*First of two volumes, a masterly biography of the great French general, with special emphasis on his military genius.
Since his untimely death aged fifty-one in 1821, Napoleon Bonaparte has been too often the victim of biographical revisionism that treats him either as a demi-god or as devil incarnate. In the first of this monumental new two-volume biography, Robert Asprey has preferred to treat him as a human being. The Rise and Fall of Napoleon (Volume 1: The Rise) chronicles the beginning of this most extraordinary of lives, from Napoleon's birth in 1769 to the historic Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, when he brilliantly defeated the Austro-Russian armies. What emerges is both a fascinating and contradictory figure: a child of the French Revolution who grew to be its master; who exploited the national will for what he believed to be the national good; who converted the surging passions of thirty million persons into an irresistible force to challenge and often topple archaic thrones; whose desire for European reforms ultimately fell victim to feudal superstition and misery. Based on years of research, Robert Asprey tells this remarkable tale with the even-handedness such a major historical figure deserves. He presents Napoleon as he was - a man dedicated to his vision of himself and his empire.
Asprey's biography is well balanced overall in its judgements and does not suffer from the usual Anglo-American myopia which likes to depict Napoleon as the predecessor of Hitler - IRISH TIMES
A level-headed and serious account of Napoleon's life, which is clear, objective and informative... the author is an expert on military history and it is not surprising that he should devote much space to the expeditions and battles... he follows Napoleon's actions closely and carefully and there is much to hold the reader's attention in this volume and one looks forward to its successor - SPECTATOR