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TelesticWarrior31 May 2013 12:07 p.m. PST

Whirlwind,
I can't believe you are still flogging this dead-horse of yours. You are basically defending the indefensible. You don't think that the following is indicative of Corelli Barnett's extreme personal bias, an anti-Napoleon diatribe unworthy of someone claiming to be an Historian of the Napoleonic era?;

- Multiple cheap-shot comparisons of Napoleon with Hitler.
- Further comparisons of Napoleon with the Communist leaders.
(Both of these tactics are, as Kevin stated, attempts to vilify Napoleon with invalid analogies).
- Titling his book 'Buonaparte', in a cheap move to try and portray Napoleon has a foreigner who didn't understand France or was ill-suited to lead her.
In addition we also have Barnett applying the following deragotory and/innacurate labels on Napoleon;
- "Mob leader"
- "toady"
- "fervent jacobin"
- "Social and National misfit"
- "rootless wanderer"
- "the most illustrious squatter in europe"


Also, it is very clear from reading the book that Barnett does not have a very good understanding of the Military aspect of Napoleons career. There are too many examples to go into, and Kevin has already done a good job exposing them above, but here are two of my favourite pieces of biased drivel from the book;
"Ulm was a success that only just escaped being a disaster".

and

"the purely technical brilliance of Austerlitz has obscured the fact that but for the ineptitude of Bonaparte's conduct of foreign affairs, it need never have been fought". This one is actually very indicative of the mind-set of the Author towards Napoleon and stuck out to me like a sore thumb when I read it years ago; Barnett spends the first chapters nit-picking & criticising Napoleons 1st and 2nd Italian campaigns (which most Historians rate as amongst Napoleon's finest). When it comes to Austerlitz itself the Author runs low on ammunition and has to dig deep to scrape from the bottom of the barrel. He can't criticise Napoleons performance in the battle itself so he falls back on the line that "it need never have been fought". One could argue that about every battle that as ever been fought in History, but that doesn't make it all relevant to the context of that section of Barnetts book. An un-biased historian would have not have needed to include that last bit of irrelevant criticism.
But that wouldn't have suited Barnett's agenda, would it?

TelesticWarrior31 May 2013 12:10 p.m. PST

Also,
I have a feeling that Kevin Kiley's excellent post was lost in the infighting that followed, so I think it is worth including it once again just to remind ourselves just how many errors and articles of bias Barnett makes in 'Buonaparte'

On a quick run-through of Corelli Barnett's book Bonaparte up to the end of the campaign of 1809 I found the following errors made by the author-which are either errors in fact or material that cannot be substantiated.

Page 11: ‘fervent Jacobin' (pages 14, 26 ‘notoriously Jacobin', 28, 89):
The definition of Jacobin during the period was ‘fanatic.' Not only was Napoleon not a fanatic, he was never a Jacobin.

Page 11: Napoleon a ‘hater of religion.'
This was a statement made by the author without any evidence to back him up. If Napoleon was such a ‘hater of religion' why did he then restore the Church during the Consulate?

Page 15: ‘even less of a Frenchman than a contemporary American or Irishman was English.'
Again, this statement is also made without any corroborating evidence. The fact is, Napoleon was born in Corsica after it was gained by France, making him by birth a Frenchman.

Page 21: ‘…perhaps they offer an early example of his ability to assume different roles, different personalities, according to the occasion.'
Psychobabble with no reference to back up the statement.

Page 22: ‘They reveal indeed not one character, but two, and those discordant to the point of paradox.'
Again, psychobabble with no reference to back up the statement.

Page 25: ‘mob leader.'
Napoleon was never a ‘mob leader' and during the mob's assault on the Tuileries and the ensuing massacre of the Swiss Guard, Napoleon not only did not participate in the mob action, he rescued a wounded Swiss Guard. Napoleon was for law and order, not mob violence.

Page 30: Napoleon acquired ‘a lifelong digust with and contempt for the common man in action.'
There is no evidence for this and is nothing more than repeating erroneous information based on allied and British propaganda attempting to make Napoleon into some type of monster.

Page 43: ‘Like the Schlieffen Plan of 1914, the Italian offensive of 1796 was, in terms of overall national interest, a seductive folly.'
It was the campaign, leading up to Napoleon invading Austria in 1797, that led to the collapse of the First Coalition and the Treaty of Campo Formio. All of the allies quit except for Britain. What type of ‘folly' was it actually a part of?

Regarding the Battle of Rivoli on pages 50 and 51: ‘Once more the French concentration was a last-minute, pell-mell, touch-and-go affair. In fact some of Bonaparte's formations only arrived in the course of the battle itself.'
There is little or no understanding demonstrated of how the French fought or how they were organized.

-‘The Austrian strategy, another maneuver sur les derrieres, could hardly have succeeded more brilliantly.'
OK, perhaps the Austrian ‘strategy' was successful to give the author credit for strategic acumen. However, this ‘success' was all for not as the Austrians were outfought and defeated decisively.

-‘But Bonaparte and his army saved themselves yet once again by their superiority in sheer pugilism: by pace, nimbleness and hard-punching; by will to win.'

-‘Superiority in sheer pugilim'?

The author plainly does not understand the nature of warfare and what it takes to win.

Page 62: Regarding the Turkish prisoners taken at Jaffa in 1799: ‘…a further 2,000 were taken to the seashore at Bonaparte's orders and shot.'
What is neglected here is that those 2000 Turks were paroled from an earlier action and by the law of war of the period, if they broke their parole and were again captured, their lives were forfeit. Further, Napoleon had nowhere to put them and could not feed them. 20th century moralizing for events almost two hundred years earlier isn't history, but ignorance of the period itself.

Page 66: ‘the Italian gamble of 1796-1797 had in due time landed France in a fresh war of an incalculable more dangerous nature.'
What gamble? France won the war of the First Coalition. That war again erupted was at least as much fault of the allies as it was of France.

Page 67: Refers to Napoleon as a ‘toady' and a ‘rootless wanderer.'
Napoleon was hardly a ‘toady.' Further, the ‘rootless wanderer' comment is nothing but bias against the subject of the book which colors the entire narrative and contributes to the badly-researched nature of the volume with myriad errors and odd conclusions, the greater majority of which cannot be supported.

Page 68: Reference compares Napoleon to the Nazis: ‘The coup d'etat was prepared with a cunning as skilled as Nazi management of the Reichstag fire.'
Comparing Napoleon or his actions with those of the Nazis cheapens the narrative and is not historically accurate. See JC Herold, The Mind of Napoleon.

Page 70: Another comparison to the Nazis and Hitler: ‘French intellectuals, with that special gullibility of the clever, were as readily taken in by this pose of devotion to republican ideals of liberty as British intellectuals by Hitler's pose as a peace lover in the 1930s.'
See the comment and reference above.

Page 71: Comparison of Napoleon to the communists: ‘Anticipating a 20th century Communist strategy…'
Another attempt to vilify Napoleon with invalid analogies.

Page 75: ‘So yet again Bonaparte found himself saved from the consequences of his own errors by the shortcomings of his enemy.'
The general who makes the least mistakes is the one that wins.

Page 79: ‘Otherwise, Corsican and French life in an era of revolution hardly afforded an encouraging spectacle of human nature, least of all to a man so intelligent, intolerant and egotistical.'
And what element of European society, including that of Great Britain during the period 1789-1800 ‘afforded an encouraging spectacle of human nature'? With the French Revolution, although it took too many wrong turns to violence and war, at least one of the nations of Europe was pulling itself out of the feudal and monarchial order to at least attempt a new and better way of doing business.

Page 79: ‘This psychological insight did not move him to look upon humanity with compassion and charity, but rather with contempt.'
More psychobabble and a complete misunderstanding of Napoleon's character.

Page 80: ‘The army after all was his essential power base, the instrument by which he had finally reached the top; as a politician; the equivalent of a party organization to political leaders of a later era.'
Yet another illogical reference to the dictators of the 1920s-1950s

Page 80: ‘Bonaparte was here a pioneer of that calculated chumminess with the rank and file which in the twentieth century became so notable a feature of democratic politics as well as of generalship.'
‘Calculated chumminess'? Because Napoleon knew and remembered hundreds of his rank and file?

Page 80: ‘But the incapable, disobedient or negligent evoked his full savagery. One general was summarily dismissed from his post with the brutal injunction never to appear before him again.'
Which begs the question ‘why?' Napoleon did fire people who failed him. He also forgave and continued to employ those who had failed. It depended on the situation and who did what.

Page 81: ‘Domination was then more of a lifelong urge with Bonaparte; it was, like action, an essential therapy. Whereas the philosopher Descartes had sought to prove his individual existence by arguing ‘I think; therefore I am', Bonaparte in his won quest for identity might rather have said: ‘I order everybody about; therefore I am.'
Presumptuous psychobabble.

Page 81: ‘…social and national misfit…'
I would like to see documentation where it clearly demonstrates that Napoleon was a ‘social and national misfit.'

Page 81: ‘Domination was then more than a lifelong urge with Bonaparte; it was, like action, an essential therapy.'
More psychobabble.

Page 83: ‘And so well designed for its purpose was this system that it outlasted Bonaparte himself, outlasted all France's 19th century changes of regime, and survives, even though much modified, to the present day. There are those who consequently admire it as proof of Bonaparte's constructive genius and of his service to France. But in fact it completed the betrayal of the democratic promise of the Revolution…'
What was the ‘democratic promise' of the Revolution? The Revolution produced a republic, not a democracy. Too many authors equate republican government of the late 18th century with democracy and that is a stretch. And how did Napoleon ‘betray' the Revolution?

Page 84: ‘But [Napoleon] himself only took part personally in the discussions on the articles relating to the law of the family…strongly reflected…his low opinion of women.'
That is incorrect. A demonstration with factual references might have helped here.

Page 87: ‘In September 1800, however, he informed …Louis XVIII, the Bourbon king in exile, that, ‘You should not hope to return to France; you would have to walk over 100,000 corpses…'
Louis ‘the Unavoidable' had asked Napoleon to reinstate him as king. Napoleon politely refused but did offer him a pension.

Page 88: refers to the Brumaire coup d'etat as a ‘boardroom takeover.'
Interesting analogy but inaccurate.

Page 88: refers to Napoleon as a ‘social misfit.'
Again, how? References would have been nice to have.

Page 89: reference to Napoleon's coronation as ‘a further coup d'etat.'
The attempt is to vilify Napoleon and not to present facts through solid research.

Pages 92-95 on the Treaty of Amiens, et al: ‘For rather than lull them after the Peace of Amiens by behaving like a good neighbor bent on a quiet existence, he proceeded to breach the treaty in spirit and letter.'
Great Britain was just as guilty as France in breaching Amiens-the British had no intention of keeping the treaty and immediately upon the treaty being signed sought to cause trouble with France.

Page 95: ‘The same personal flaws which had betrayed him into provoking England's mortal enmity were now to be demonstrated afresh in his preparations to crush her by invasion.'
Solid explanation of this interesting statement along with valid references might have been useful here.

Page 96: on the Boulogne camps…'The land forces were to be concentrated in four great camps, each to hold an army corps and its artillery, at Utrecht, Bruges, St. Omer and Montreuil, with a fifth at Brest as a diversionary threat to the restless English colony of Ireland.'
The camps along the channel were Brest, Montreuil, Boulogne, St, Omer, Bruges, and Utrecht.

Page 98: ‘On 2 December 1803 he resoundingly dubbed the invasion forces ‘The Army of England.'
In June 1803 the army assembled on the Channel coast was named the Armee des Cotes de l'Ocean. In August 1805 it became the Grande Armee. It was never named The Army of England.

Page 100: ‘…against the most formidable corps of sea officers in history…'
Nothing but blatant British nationalism at play here. In history? You've got to be kidding. If you really wanted to make a case for that ‘title' the senior leadership and officer corps of the US Navy in War II would be not only a contender, but the winner.

Page 104: ‘Yet this advance to the Danube constituted at the same time the retreat from Boulogne; the aftermath of the greatest strategic reverse Bonaparte had so far suffered. More, it was the consequence of the crassest blunders he had so far committed. For in additiona to provoking England's renewed belligerence and then failing in his foredoomed attempt to crush her by invasion, he had needlessly stirred up Russia's enmity again-and finally Austria's as well.'
What ‘retreat' from Boulogne? Austria, financed and encouraged by the British who desperately wanted the Grande Armee off the Channel, had invaded Napoleon's ally Bavaria. War was started by the Austrians.

Page 105: ‘Thus Bonaparte gratuitously opened the door for English diplomacy in St. Petersburg and ushered it inside, with the result that after the customary long drawn-out negotiations the Anglo-Russian alliance was signed in May 1805 and ratified by the Tsar in July.'

Page 106: ‘The coming campaign against Austria was therefore even more needless in terms of the real interest of the Frnech people than those of 1796-1797 and 1800.'
That the campaign of 1805 was ‘needless' is one of the most ridiculous statements I have ever seen in what is supposed to be a factual account of Napoleon's life and campaigns (which it isn't).

Page 107: ‘Bonaparte himself was not much of a military innovator, but content instead to make war with this hybrid army as he found it.'
The army was formed into homogenous divisions of infantry and cavalry; the corps system was implemented from 1800; the artillery train was created by Napoleon in 1800; the cavalry reserve was created-just a few of the military innovations made by Napoleon.

Page 107: ‘After 1800, however, Marmont, whom he appointed Inspector-General of Artillery, had set about creating the artillery arm which was to dominate Bonaparte's later battles. For the first time civilian drivers of gun teams were replaced by military personnel. Mechanical parts such as wheels were standardized. The enormous task of recasting all France's artillery from four calibers…into three…demanding the use of Italian as well as French arsenals, was well on the way to completion by the opening of the 1805 campaign.'
The footnote to this passage reads: ‘It is often stated that Bonaparte greatly benefitted from the artillery reforms of the Comte de Gribeauval under Louis XVI, but this has been exaggerated. See Ragusa, II, p. 150.'

Page 108: ‘Off the battlefield, however, the Bonapartian army lacked system and discipline; it pillaged and straggled; it ignored or disobeyed its officers. On campaign its columns of route had all the regularity of migrating tribes of gypsies hung about with plunder, edible and otherwise. This was indeed the era which saw established the great French military tradition of ‘le systeme D', the ‘D' standing for debrouiller-muddle through. Even by 1805 only the Imperial Guard was equipped with its own wagon-train, the rest of the army scavenged as it went.'
First, ‘le systeme D' actually means to improvise or untangle. In modern parlance, the ability to ‘make bricks without straw.' Debrouiller means ‘to untangle.'
Page 108: ‘In Berthier, his chief of staff, Bonaparte possessed the perfect instrument for his style of command: a kind of super chief-clerk, untiring at routine work, but in no sense the equivalent of a modern chief of staff who proffers strategic advice or takes decisions on his own responsibility.'
This is a continued inaccurate slight against Berthier, Napoleon's chief of staff and originates from Jomini's personal malice against Berthier. In short, Napoleon and Berthier formed one of the greatest operational partnerships in military history and Berthier was one of the great chiefs of staff of modern military history. His pioneering work in staff organization and functioning is still felt today.

Page 109: ‘This strategy bore strong resemblences to the Schlieffen Plan of 1914: in the simple grandeur of the conception of a flank march by almost the entire army…'
The outflanking of Ulm and the Austrians in 1805 was not done by a ‘flank march' but by a deep envelopment into the Austrian rear.

Page 109: ‘…as Marshal Marmont justly observes, ‘of that scorn for the rights of others of which Napoleon was often guilty when he believed himself the stronger.'
Much of what Marmont states has to be taken with a large salt pill. Having betrayed Napoleon and his country to the allies in 1814 Marmont spent much of the rest of his life attempting to justify his actions as well as attempting to get into the records of the 1813 and 1814 campaigns in the War Ministry to ‘fix' the errors that he committed as commander of the VI Corps.

Page 110: Ulm'…was a success that only just escaped being a disaster.'
Again, a ridiculous statement that is not based on factual material.

Page 112: refers to ‘His nine-hundred mile long line of communications with Paris…'
What is overlooked here is that Paris was not Napoleon's base-the depots and bases established by the French along their line of communications, which would be shifted as the strategic situation changed, is ignored here.

Pages 114-115: assumptions on the trap at Austerlitz.
At Austerlitz, Napoleon ‘coaxed' the allied army to attack the Grande Armee, leading to a tactical trap. It was an excellent use of intelligence and counter-intelligence, as well as generalship. Attempts to denigrate the achievement, which is obviously taking place here, are not only inaccurate but are illogical historically.
Page 116 refers to Napoleon's personal appearance as having a ‘squat body.'
Napoleon did not begin to put on weight until after his marriage to Marie Louise. The continual derogatory personal comments by the author against Napoleon do not illuminate anything historically and are not a logical historical argument.

Page 118: ‘the purely technical brilliance of Austerlitz has obscured the fact that but for the ineptitude of Bonaparte's conduct of foreign affairs, it need never have been fought.'
The actual situation is that Great Britain hired Austria and Russia to fight France in 1805 in order to get the Grande Armee off the Channel.

Page 118: Refers to Napoleon's conditions of peace with Austria as the ‘latest extortions.'
That being the case, then the ‘settlements' at the Congress of Vienna should be viewed in the same light.

Page 118: refers to Napoleon as ‘the Casanova of power.'
Another derogatory comment that displays the authors inherent bias.

Page 119: Reynier in column at Maida.
Reynier did not attack in column at Maida but in line. The original error on this issue made by Oman was later corrected by him. It was old information by the time the book was published in 1978.

Page 121: ‘The heads of grander German states, like Wurttemberg, Bavaria and, later, Saxony were promoted to the rank of king, though naturally denied the enjoyment of full sovereignty.'
Napoleon seldom, if ever, interfered in the internal government of his allies in the Confederation.

Page 121: ‘The sight of some 200,000 Frenchmen feeding off their country like a plague of sucking aphids deeply angered the German people.'
And who were the ‘German people'?
As there was a geographical location known collectively as Germany during the period, there was no state of Germany in the political sense. After the formation of the Confederation of the Rhine, Napoleon quartered his army in the territory of his allies and made them responsible for feeding his troops. But as was brought out by Owen Connelly in his Napoleon's Satellite Kingdoms, that is also where the French troops spent their money which helped the local economies. To make such a sweeping statement that the Grande Armee was nothing but ‘a plague of sucking aphids' again demonstrates a notable ignorance of what actually happened in central Europe.

Page 122: ‘Bonaparte proved as oblivious in 1806 to evidence that Prussia was girding herself for war as to evidence of the Third Coalition the previous year.'
Barnett needs to take a serious look at Napoleon's correspondence. Again, he is in error.

Page 124: ‘The truth is that from the very outset of his career as a general-in-chief Bonaparte practiced tightly centralized control of all operations, however, distant, and demanded blind obedience to the orders which defined his subordinates' roles in his master plan.'
This is another error on Barnett's part revealing a lack of serious research on his part regarding the command and control system of the Grande Armee. Napoleon usually told his subordinates what he wanted done and how it was accomplished was up to the corps commanders and independent commanders. Napoleon was also noted as being an excellent trainer of subordinate commanders.

Page 125: refers to Napoleon as ‘the most illustrious squatter in Europe.'
Nothing but a derogatory, ad hominem attack on the character of Napoleon. How would the traditional reigning monarchs be characterized historically?

Page 127: ‘The traditional system relying on private contractors to supply the transport having broken down, Bonaparte drew up a wonderful scheme for an army transport corps. Nothing came of it because a transport corps on the scale required by the huge French conscript armies lay well beyond the resources of the French exchequer.'
But Napoleon did establish and organize an efficient supply train, militarize it, and got rid of the hired contractors that were both inefficient and corrupt. The supply train, the train des equipages militaires, was organized beginning on 26 March 1807. By 1809 there were thirteen train battalions and by early 1812 there were twenty-three. Fifteen supply train battalions went into Russia. One train battalion would be attached to each corps.

Page 127: ‘It is perhaps hardly surprising therefore that although his army escaped actual destruction through starvation and sickness on this particular occasion, Bonaparte showed himself no more than mediocre as a quartermaster-less able than Raglan, nowhere near as able as Wellington or Marlborough.'
The issue is how did Napoleon supply, reequip, and train the army for the spring campaign. That the Grande Armee was prepared to fight the Russians in the spring, and led to the decisive victory at Friedland is the material to be studied and understood.

Page 128: ‘The Battle of Eylau displayed Bonaparte at his worst as a commander.'
If that were so, then he would have lost, and lost badly.
Page 129: ‘The campaigns against the Russians between November 1806 and February 1807 mark Bonaparte's second great strategic reverse in three years.'
How? It can be argued to be a check because of the conditions in eastern Europe, but it was not a ‘strategic reverse.'

Page 131: Refers to the Duchy of Warsaw as Napoleon's ‘puppet Polish administration.'
When the Duchy of Warsaw was organized in 1807-1809, it was put under the traditional suzerainty of the King of Saxony. The Duchy was an ally of the French, but not a puppet.

Page 138: ‘In the dank shadow of such a domination neither talent nor initiative could flourish; only the fungus growth of bureaucratic mediocrity. One of his first acts on returning from Tilsit was to sack his Foreign Minister, Talleyrand, a man too independent in ideas and behavior, and replace him with a dutiful chief clerk, Champagny; the diplomatic equivalent of Berthier.'
Talleyrand was sacked for rapacity and he was committing treason to boot.
The idea that Berthier was nothing more than a ‘chief clerk' is absolute nonsense which a little close study on the French staff system will support. Usually, authors who make that comment about Berthier don't understand what an army chief of staff is supposed to do.
The idea that under Napoleon ‘neither talent nor initiative could flourish' is complete nonsense. That says more about the author of that statement than Napoleon's civil administration or his command of the Grande Armee.

Page 150: ‘So fragile was France's true financial condition that Bonaparte took care to conceal it by cooking the public national accounts like a smart company accountant.'
Interestingly, Napoleon always balanced his budgets and France had practically no national debt, even in 1814.
Page 150: ‘the newly raised troops [in 1809] approximated in quality to militia, because under the Bonapartian military system recruits received little formal training.'

Page 151: ‘The makeshift ‘Army of the Rhine' could as a whole only manage crude tactics in clumsy mass formations; it depended on massed cannon to blast a path for it. By a paradox the very decline of Bonaparte's army was to breed another Napoleonic legend; that of the master of artillery.'
First, Napoleon was a master of his profession regarding his training and qualifications as an artillery officer. That is easily demonstrated by a little careful research which Barnett's book does not demonstrate at all.
The Army of Germany was hastily organized and was initially short of much material, including artillery. However, it was built around Davout's excellent command in central Germany which included his III Corps and the heavy cavalry (12 regiments of cuirassiers and two of carabineers).
The Guard and naval units also were part of the Army of Germany.
Oudinot's II Corps and Massena's IV Corps were organized for the campaign and the contingents of the Confederation of the Rhine made up the difference. The Saxons had problems, not the least was having Bernadotte in command of them. The Wurttembergers, Badeners, Hessians, and Bavarians were excellent troops, and were well-trained and well-led. To understand the tactics used it might be worth it to study the battles around Ratisbon in the first half of the campaign where the Austrian offensive was stopped and then defeated badly.
The employment of large formations in the campaign is somewhat overblown and taken out of context. The two instances that come immediately to mind were Lannes' formation in his attack on the second day of Essling where he had to get out of the French bridgehead first and then deploy and Macdonald's formation at Wagram. It wasn't a ‘column' as is usually stated but a large hollow oblong formed in that manner because he would have to fight in three directions as he penetrated the Austrian line, which he did.

Page 151: ‘And in any case, of all the forces mobilized against Austria in Italy and Germany only half were native Frenchmen; the rest more or less unenthusiastic satellite troops.'
The Confederation of the Rhine contingents that fought in the Army of Germany did well and Napoleon was very pleased with their performance. ‘Unenthusiastic' is a very inaccurate assessment of their contributions. The Italian units in Eugene's Army of Italy were equally excellent and did good service. Again, terming them ‘unenthusiastic' is historically inaccurate and shows a unique ignorance of the situation in 1809.

Page 151: ‘On 9 April the Archduke [Charles] took Bonaparte by surprise by invading Bavaria, France's ally, six days earlier than Bonaparte expected, so catching the Army of Germany still far from concentrated, the Guard still en route from Spain and the cavalry corps still being assembled. It did not help that Bonaparte had left Berthier, a man unfitted for command, in temporary charge.'
Berthier was never left in charge of the Army of Germany. He was sent to the theater of operations before Napoleon did but was never assigned as the commander of the Army of Germany. He was in his usual position as Major General and chief of staff and Napoleon attempted, not too successfully, to command from Paris, which caused much confusion that Berthier has been inaccurately blamed for. It was Berthier who finally bluntly told Napoleon to get in theater as it was becoming a mess.

Page 152: ‘In committing his army to this operation beyond the Danube Bonaparte had embarked on perhaps his rashest military undertaking thus far; an act of recklessly bad generalship.'
Napoleon decided on a hasty river crossing, which is a valid military operation. And if the bridges had held, Davout would have gotten across the Danube and supported Lannes attack on 22 May. Interestingly, if the operation had been successful there is little doubt that it would have been held up as one of daring initiative.

Page 152: ‘Under cover of a bombardment by 250 guns, 100,000 Austrians smashed into the French and drove them out of the villages of Aspern and Essling back towards their bridge.'
The French retained or retook Aspern and Essling and held them at the end of the battle. The Austrians did not drive the French back to their bridgehead. The French withdrew after the fighting had ended.

Page 152: ‘And neither Bonaparte nor his soldiers had ever experienced so bloody a struggle.'
Yes, they did-at Eylau over two years previously.

Page 153: ‘With his defeat at Aspern Bonaparte had got himself into the most gruesome plight of his career, with half his army marooned on Lobau and the Danube repeatedly in flood.'
The French on Lobau were not ‘marooned.' The bridge to the east bank of the Danube was taken up after the French withdrawal and Lobau was turned into a fortified camp. New bridges were built to the west bank and preparations, based on Lobau were made for the second Danube crossing which took place at the beginning of July.

Page 154: ‘Along…the Marchfeld lay ranged more than 300,000 men and nearly 900 cannon; all brought together by Bonaparte's pursuit of his destiny for the purpose of slaughtering each other: 136,000 Austrians and nearly 400 guns, and 187,000 men and five hundred guns under Bonaparte's own command.'
Austrian strength at Wagram: 136,200 and 446 guns.
French strength at Wagram: 188,900 and 488 guns.
Page 154: ‘Inexplicably Bonaparte selected this strong sector as the object of his opening attack, by Davout's and Oudinot's corps. They were thrown back with bloody loss. Bonaparte tried again, this time with Bernadotte's Saxon corps in the center of the Austrian ring at Wagram.'
Davout was not engaged along with Oudinot. Oudinot, Bernadotte, and Macdonald were attacking the Austrian center. Davout was on the French right flank and his attack on 6 July was the battle-winner.

Page 154: [At Wagram] ‘the Archduke came close to one of the great victories of history.'
How? Charles stood on the defensive, did not oppose the second Danube crossing, and was outflanked by Davout.

Page 155: ‘Bonaparte did not pursue; the French army was too shattered for that.'
The French were ‘too weary and disorganized' for an immediate pursuit, but they were not ‘shattered.' The French pursuit began the next day and was undoubtedly energetic and aggressive, though not ‘quite able to bring Charles to bay.' It did, however, wear down the Austrians and they requested an armistice on 10 July 1809 (Wagram having been fought on 5-6 July).

I stopped here as the inaccuracies in the volume are clearly demonstrated.

B

Whirlwind31 May 2013 1:20 p.m. PST

Whirlwind, I can't believe you are still flogging this dead-horse of yours. You are basically defending the indefensible.

Erm, my dead-horse? Well, three of you have said that the book is 'indefensible'. But that doesn't make it so.


You don't think that the following is indicative of Corelli Barnett's extreme personal bias, an anti-Napoleon diatribe unworthy of someone claiming to be an Historian of the Napoleonic era?;

Not really…

– Multiple cheap-shot comparisons of Napoleon with Hitler.

Does cheap-shot just mean 'I disagree' here? Perhaps in some ways they were similar? Is that logically impossible?

Further comparisons of Napoleon with the Communist leaders.
(Both of these tactics are, as Kevin stated, attempts to vilify Napoleon with invalid analogies).

Well yes, Kevin says the analogies are invalid. But Barnett thinks they are valid. How to choose between them without detailed analysis?

Titleing his book 'Buonaparte', in a cheap move to try and portray Napoleon has a foreigner who didn't understand France or was ill-suited to lead her.

Honestly, this is pretty nit-picky. But if you want to be pedantic and logical, then calling him 'Napoleon' is also biased because it is used to imply that he was a legitimate monarch. There can be no neutral if you are following this train of thought.

In addition we also have Barnett applying the following deragotory and/inaccurate labels on Napoleon;
- "Mob leader"
- "toady"
- "fervent jacobin"
- "Social and National misfit"
- "rootless wanderer"
- "the most illustrious squatter in europe"

Well, do you object to these phrases ever been used or you just disagree in this case?

Also, it is very clear from reading the book that Barnett does not have a very good understanding of the Military aspect of Napoleons career. There are too many examples to go into, and Kevin has already done a good job exposing them above, but here are two of my favourite pieces of biased drivel from the book:

"Ulm was a success that only just escaped being a disaster".

and

"the purely technical brilliance of Austerlitz has obscured the fact that but for the ineptitude of Bonaparte's conduct of foreign affairs, it need never have been fought". This one is actually very indicative of the mind-set of the Author towards Napoleon and stuck out to me like a sore thumb when I read it years ago; Barnett spends the first chapters nit-picking & criticising Napoleons 1st and 2nd Italian campaigns (which most Historians rate as amongst Napoleon's finest). When it comes to Austerlitz itself the Author runs low on ammunition and has to dig deep to scrape from the bottom of the barrel. He can't criticise Napoleons performance in the battle itself so he falls back on the line that "it need never have been fought". One could argue that about every battle that as ever been fought in History, but that doesn't make it all relevant to the context of that section of Barnetts book. An un-biased historian would have not have needed to include that last bit of irrelevant criticism.
But that wouldn't have suited Barnett's agenda, would it?

Well, no, again. There is nothing illogical or even that critical about saying that the battle was brilliant but he reckons that he could have avoided fighting the 1805 campaign at all by better diplomacy. I mean, disagree by all means but it is hardly a sign of massive ingrained bias per se.

Whirlwind31 May 2013 1:23 p.m. PST

@TW

Well, post Kevin's review as many times as you like and on reading it yet again, I still see just as many pro-Napoleon biases as anti-Napoleon ones.

Regards

basileus6631 May 2013 3:13 p.m. PST

I haven't read Barnett's, so it is with some caveat that I would say that if what Kevin and TW have quoted from Barnett's book is correct he shows a strong anti-Napoleon stance, indeed. Which, in my opinion, usually is a poor starting point for any biographer.

Also, I agree with both of them that comparing Napoleon with Hitler, or Communists is not what marks a good historian. First thing you learnt when you start at college is that you can't compare people from different periods; past is a foreign country, indeed.

Not that Napoleon is an especially lovable character, but to be honest who absolute ruler has ever been?

Nasty Canasta31 May 2013 4:45 p.m. PST

I wish to thank Telestic Warrior for advancing my carpal tunnel.

Maxshadow31 May 2013 7:26 p.m. PST

ROFL

Whirlwind31 May 2013 9:12 p.m. PST

First thing you learnt when you start at college is that you can't compare people from different periods; past is a foreign country, indeed.

Fair enough Basileus, but logically that means that the objection cannot be specifically that Barnett says that in some respects Napoleon resembles Hitler or the Communists; presumably you would equally object to any comparison made out of period with anyone else ?

Regards

basileus6631 May 2013 11:13 p.m. PST

Yes, I would, and already did. Call me historicist if you wish, but I am a strong supporter of the idea of particularity of historical periods. Nazism was a formula particular to the concrete conditions of Europe in the 1930s. You can compare Nazism with Communism or Fascism, as those were ideologies which put in motion political experiments of social engineering at the same time that Nazis did. But when I read some presumed historians comparing, for instance, Tamerlan with Hitler, I can't stop thinking: "Wrong! Wrong! It wasn't like that!" And not because I feel any sympathy for Tamerlan (or Hitler), but because I strongly believe that to actually understand how it was possible that someone was able to build a pyramid of skulls or sent millions to their deaths is necessary to study them in their own historical context.

That's why I find so useless and a-historical comparisons between characters separated by culture, time and experience, as Barnett's allegedly does with Napoleon.

von Winterfeldt31 May 2013 11:13 p.m. PST

he crowned hinself emperor to establish a heriditary monarchy, form a dynasty, as like the Bourbons, or Capets – by that turning the clock back and abolishing the French Repulic.
He failed in contrast to Bernadotte.

Whirlwind01 Jun 2013 2:10 a.m. PST

@basileus,

I completely respect your point of view, only noting that it rules out a 'positive' analogy (where separated by time and/or culture) as much as a 'negative' one. Indeed, on this view, the phrase 'invalid analogy' when applied to anything separated by a number of years is tautologous, there could not be a valid one.

Regards

basileus6601 Jun 2013 3:53 a.m. PST

I am aware of that, and that's why I try to avoid any kind of analogies, positive or otherwise. Besides, I find them to be a lazy literary trick. It's like the author doesn't know how to explain a topic and needs crutches (the analogy) to make his point clear to his readers.

I know that my position is not easy, and won't be shared by many, but I've found it a good way to discipline myself as historian. By avoiding analogies, I force myself to actually think about the period I am researching, and to find the correct words I need to convey its full significance to the readers.

Do you know when I actually started to hate analogies? It was while reading a book on Biblical warfare; when the author compared the Assyrian four-horses chariots to German panzers I almost choked in my coffee! Regretfully it is more common than you imagine, and it only serves to confuse, not to enlight, the reader.

Best regards

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP02 Jun 2013 10:08 a.m. PST

'Well yes, Kevin says the analogies are invalid. But Barnett thinks they are valid. How to choose between them without detailed analysis?'

JC Herold makes a very convincing case for invalidating Barnett:

From The Mind of Napoleon by JC Herold, xxxviii (Introduction):

'Certain external and by no means accidental similarities between Napoleon's career and that of Hitler have blinded some men to the far more significant contrasts. Unlike Napoleon, Hitler is likely to go down in history as another Attila or Jenghiz Khan. Hitler destroyed the law; Napoleon was a lawgiver whose code spread across continents. That difference alone should be enough to discourage comparison. Hitler was a maniacal crank with an ideology; Napoleon, sane and self-controlled, despised ideologies. Hitler appealed to hatred; Napoleon, to honor. Hitler extolled that dark, instinctual monster which he called the People and which Taine called the Gorilla; Napoleon had seen that monster in action during the Reign of Terror, and he preferred to perish rather than invoke its power. Napoleon, when he began his career, embodied the hopes of sane and noble minds (not least among them Beethoven's); Hitler began and ended surrounded by psychopaths. But why insist on the contrast? Perhaps there is no difference between them but the difference between the Age of Reason and the Age of Hatred. It's a substantial difference.'

Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

B

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP02 Jun 2013 10:13 a.m. PST

'He failed in contrast to Bernadotte.'

And 'le miserable Ponte Corvo' is such an admirable person…

B

Whirlwind02 Jun 2013 10:15 a.m. PST

erm, Kevin…

Certain external and by no means accidental similarities between Napoleon's career and that of Hitler…

Since Barnett only refers in passing to certain resemblances, I take it you mean QED for Barnett?

If the thrust of Bernett's book had been that Napoleon was very similar to Hitler then obviously you would have a point. But that isn't the thrust, so no dramas.

Regards

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP02 Jun 2013 10:54 a.m. PST

For the comparison(s) of Napoleon to Hitler. It's nonsense. Barnett is only one that makes the invalid comparison. Herold's point is well taken and valid.

B

Whirlwind02 Jun 2013 11:06 a.m. PST

Ah, so you disagree with Herold the when he says that there are similarities?

Regards

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP02 Jun 2013 11:22 a.m. PST

Did you actually read the excerpt (there's also more to it, I just posted the first paragraph)?

Basically any similarities are irrelevant from the thrust of the paragraph.

Let's not play semantics or word games-it's counterproductive.

B

SJDonovan02 Jun 2013 11:30 a.m. PST

They both had the same hat size (7 3/8). If that's not a similarity I don't know what is.

Oh, and they both invaded Russia.

Which puts them in a pretty select group all things considered.

Whirlwind02 Jun 2013 11:40 a.m. PST

Basically any similarities are irrelevant from the thrust of the paragraph. Let's not play semantics or word games-it's counterproductive.

No, let's play semantics. Firstly, Barnett doesn't compare Napoleon with Hitler here. He doesn't mention Hitler here at all . He says the coup d'etat was prepared with a cunning as skilled as Nazi management of the Reichstag fire. Note, he does not say that he/they were 'like' the Nazis in any way . All he is saying is that they were very politically cunning. That's it.

So you can relax. He wasn't comparing Hitler with Napoleon here.

Regards

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP02 Jun 2013 11:41 a.m. PST

The Swedes did it a couple of times. One of their generals, de la Gardie, led a Swedish army to Moscow and back in 1610.

Any comparison between Napoleon and Hitler is an insult to the former and a great compliment to the latter which he does not deserve.

B

SJDonovan02 Jun 2013 12:33 p.m. PST

The Swedes did it a couple of times. One of their generals, de la Gardie, led a Swedish army to Moscow and back in 1610.

Any comparison between Napoleon and Hitler is an insult to the former and a great compliment to the latter which he does not deserve.

De la Gardie wore a 6 1/2 so isn't really relevant to this discussion.

basileus6602 Jun 2013 12:54 p.m. PST

He says the coup d'etat was prepared with a cunning as skilled as Nazi management of the Reichstag fire.

Don't be naive. If he wouldn't wanted to compare Napoleon with the Nazis, he wouldn't have used the Reichstag fire as comparison. He could have used another dozen of examples of cunning plots to compare with, but then he wouldn't have make his point clear: Napoleon was alike the Nazis. Which, as I explained before, it's not only an example of bad history, but actually shows a poor grasp of language skills by Barnett's part and a fair amount of lazyness.

Call Napoleon an autocrat, even an absolut monarch if you wish, as those are labels proper for his times, but, please, please… don't compare him with a totalitarian ideology that was based upon a racist notion of history (which Napoleon never showed to have had) and which was made possible by the disaster of WWI.

Whirlwind02 Jun 2013 1:25 p.m. PST

@Basileus66,

That is your over-interpretation. His words simply don't mean that. If he wanted to say that Napoleon was as evil as Hitler/the Nazis then he could have done so quite easily, buthe didn't. He said "as cunning as (in one instance)".

The phrase "as efficient as the German Army in WW2" does not imply that hidden in the idea of military efficiency is the mass slaughter of innocent civilians off the battlefield. It just means 'very military efficient, like they were'.

basileus6602 Jun 2013 1:43 p.m. PST

Words aren't innocent, and that's not an "over-interpretation". Just is.

When you use in the same phrase "Whoever" and "Nazis" you are conveying a very particular meaning, that any reader will immediately grasp.

I get it. You will never, ever accept that, somehow, Kevin or, God help us!, Gazzola can be right about something. I usually don't agree with them, but in this case they are spot on: an author that relies on such idiotic comparisons is worthless. I wouldn't trust any of his research. Am I being too harsh in my judgement? Maybe, but I need to draw the line somewhere and lousy analogies are my pet.

Whirlwind02 Jun 2013 1:49 p.m. PST

When you use in the same phrase "Whoever" and "Nazis" you are conveying a very particular meaning, that any reader will immediately grasp.

Then you are just wrong. The sentence "Napoleon invaded Russia, as the Nazis did 130 years later" implies nothing about the morality or otherwise either of Napoleon or the Nazis.

You will never, ever accept that, somehow, Kevin or, God help us!, Gazzola can be right about something. I usually don't agree with them, but in this case they are spot on: an author that relies on such idiotic comparisons is worthless. I wouldn't trust any of his research.

You are simply wrong again. I know I agree with Kevin about much more than I disagree with him. The same is probably true of John.

Regards

basileus6602 Jun 2013 2:15 p.m. PST

Then you are just wrong. The sentence "Napoleon invaded Russia, as the Nazis did 130 years later" implies nothing about the morality or otherwise either of Napoleon or the Nazis.

Of course it implies something! Why the Nazis? Why not the Swedes just 100 years before? It would be more logical, as Napoleon had Charles XII's invasion in mind when he planned his attack on Russia. Or the Polish, 200 years? What is the author implying? That we are ignorants and do not know that Russia has been invaded by others than Napoleon? Maybe in a children's book written in the late 40s a phrase like that would be justified, but any author that would like to pass as "serious" should avoid such phrases.

I would understand if a researcher of Barbarossa would say that Hitler and the OKH had Napoleon's invasion in mind when they planned the operation, and that the retreat of 1812 played a role in Hitler's order of no retreat in the winter of 1941. THAT is history based upon clear reflection and not upon prejudice (of course, if backed up by evidence, not just opinion). But the other way around? What sense it makes but to stablish a sub-conscious relationship between Napoleon's invasion of Russia and the Nazis? Look at how language is used in propaganda, in history, in the press… What next? Will you tell me that Eisenstein's "Alexander Nevskii" was an innocent tale of Russian heroism and not a clever piece of propaganda? That the helmets of the Teutonic soldiers resembled the stalhelms used by the Nazis was surely coincidental and innocent? It doesn't mean that Eisenstein would have been preparing Russian people for a potential invasion of Russia… (Stalin didn't think the same: he ordered the movie out of the theaters after the German-Soviet Pact of August 1939 and didn't authorise to be shown again until 22 June 1941)

Anyway… I am getting tired (its 23:14 here) and this debate is not going anywhere, so with your permission I will retire and concede the field.

Whirlwind02 Jun 2013 2:23 p.m. PST

@basileus,

You miss my point. It just shows there is no necessary connection between the morality or otherwise of the two protagonists. Of course Barnett had in mind something when he picked the specific example of 'like the Reichstag fire'. I leave it to others (not you, since you believe that no analogy from a different period can *ever* be accurate) to whether, specifically, the plotting of the coup was much like the plotting of the Reichstag fire or not. What I will not concede is that this is a 'hidden message' which Barnett is using to whisper 'Napoleon was like Hitler'. He simply does not make that connection in this example, and so I fundamentally disagree with those who do infer such a connection, and then say the whole book is worthless.

Regards

Peeler02 Jun 2013 5:01 p.m. PST

You can't compare an earlier event (Napoleon) to a later event (Hitler). But you can compare a later event to an earlier one. The earlier one would have no comprehension of the later one, whereas the later one should have knowledge of the earlier one & could be influenced by it.

And that's after the pub :)

Chouan05 Jun 2013 3:56 a.m. PST

Actually, when one considers the evidence presented here, and I've only looked at some, through pressure of time, many, if not most, aren't actually factual errors but are differences in interpretation or disagreements in perception. The first three I have ignored as I have pointed out the errors in the comments elsewhere.

"Also,
I have a feeling that Kevin Kiley's excellent post was lost in the infighting that followed, so I think it is worth including it once again just to remind ourselves just how many errors and articles of bias Barnett makes in 'Buonaparte'

""Page 21: ‘…perhaps they offer an early example of his ability to assume different roles, different personalities, according to the occasion.'
Psychobabble with no reference to back up the statement."

No, not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 22: ‘They reveal indeed not one character, but two, and those discordant to the point of paradox.'
Again, psychobabble with no reference to back up the statement."

No, not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 25: ‘mob leader.'
Napoleon was never a ‘mob leader' and during the mob's assault on the Tuileries and the ensuing massacre of the Swiss Guard, Napoleon not only did not participate in the mob action, he rescued a wounded Swiss Guard. Napoleon was for law and order, not mob violence."

He was indeed a mob leader, look at his "extra-legal" activities in Corsica. Lyons, p.10.

"Page 30: Napoleon acquired ‘a lifelong digust with and contempt for the common man in action.'
There is no evidence for this and is nothing more than repeating erroneous information based on allied and British propaganda attempting to make Napoleon into some type of monster."

No, not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 43: ‘Like the Schlieffen Plan of 1914, the Italian offensive of 1796 was, in terms of overall national interest, a seductive folly.'
It was the campaign, leading up to Napoleon invading Austria in 1797, that led to the collapse of the First Coalition and the Treaty of Campo Formio. All of the allies quit except for Britain. What type of ‘folly' was it actually a part of?"

No, not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Regarding the Battle of Rivoli on pages 50 and 51: ‘Once more the French concentration was a last-minute, pell-mell, touch-and-go affair. In fact some of Bonaparte's formations only arrived in the course of the battle itself.'
There is little or no understanding demonstrated of how the French fought or how they were organized."

No, not an error but a differing interpretation.

"-‘The Austrian strategy, another maneuver sur les derrieres, could hardly have succeeded more brilliantly.'
OK, perhaps the Austrian ‘strategy' was successful to give the author credit for strategic acumen. However, this ‘success' was all for not as the Austrians were outfought and defeated decisively.
-‘But Bonaparte and his army saved themselves yet once again by their superiority in sheer pugilism: by pace, nimbleness and hard-punching; by will to win.'
-‘Superiority in sheer pugilim'?
The author plainly does not understand the nature of warfare and what it takes to win."

No, not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 62: Regarding the Turkish prisoners taken at Jaffa in 1799: ‘…a further 2,000 were taken to the seashore at Bonaparte's orders and shot.'
What is neglected here is that those 2000 Turks were paroled from an earlier action and by the law of war of the period, if they broke their parole and were again captured, their lives were forfeit. Further, Napoleon had nowhere to put them and could not feed them. 20th century moralizing for events almost two hundred years earlier isn't history, but ignorance of the period itself."

Not an error, as they were shot, on Buonaparte's orders. Your interpretations of the event differ.

"Page 66: ‘the Italian gamble of 1796-1797 had in due time landed France in a fresh war of an incalculable more dangerous nature.'
What gamble? France won the war of the First Coalition. That war again erupted was at least as much fault of the allies as it was of France."

Even though they won the war, it was still a gamble, so once again, no, not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 67: Refers to Napoleon as a ‘toady' and a ‘rootless wanderer.'
Napoleon was hardly a ‘toady.' Further, the ‘rootless wanderer' comment is nothing but bias against the subject of the book which colors the entire narrative and contributes to the badly-researched nature of the volume with myriad errors and odd conclusions, the greater majority of which cannot be supported."

No, not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 68: Reference compares Napoleon to the Nazis: ‘The coup d'etat was prepared with a cunning as skilled as Nazi management of the Reichstag fire.'
Comparing Napoleon or his actions with those of the Nazis cheapens the narrative and is not historically accurate. See JC Herold, The Mind of Napoleon."

Your view, so not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 70: Another comparison to the Nazis and Hitler: ‘French intellectuals, with that special gullibility of the clever, were as readily taken in by this pose of devotion to republican ideals of liberty as British intellectuals by Hitler's pose as a peace lover in the 1930s.'
See the comment and reference above."

Again, see above.

"Page 71: Comparison of Napoleon to the communists: ‘Anticipating a 20th century Communist strategy…'
Another attempt to vilify Napoleon with invalid analogies."

Only if you are anti-communist, so again, not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 75: ‘So yet again Bonaparte found himself saved from the consequences of his own errors by the shortcomings of his enemy.'
The general who makes the least mistakes is the one that wins."

So, not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 79: ‘Otherwise, Corsican and French life in an era of revolution hardly afforded an encouraging spectacle of human nature, least of all to a man so intelligent, intolerant and egotistical.'
And what element of European society, including that of Great Britain during the period 1789-1800 ‘afforded an encouraging spectacle of human nature'? With the French Revolution, although it took too many wrong turns to violence and war, at least one of the nations of Europe was pulling itself out of the feudal and monarchial order to at least attempt a new and better way of doing business."

No, not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 79: ‘This psychological insight did not move him to look upon humanity with compassion and charity, but rather with contempt.'
More psychobabble and a complete misunderstanding of Napoleon's character."

No, not an error but a differing interpretation. Only a misunderstanding because you don't agree.

"Page 80: ‘The army after all was his essential power base, the instrument by which he had finally reached the top; as a politician; the equivalent of a party organization to political leaders of a later era.'
Yet another illogical reference to the dictators of the 1920s-1950s"

No, not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 80: ‘Bonaparte was here a pioneer of that calculated chumminess with the rank and file which in the twentieth century became so notable a feature of democratic politics as well as of generalship.'
‘Calculated chumminess'? Because Napoleon knew and remembered hundreds of his rank and file?"

And had military secretaries who compiled files of lists of people in regiments so that Buonaparte could look them up before reviewing that regiment to refresh his memory. Not a criticism, in fact it shows ability, but again, this isn't a factual error.

"Page 80: ‘But the incapable, disobedient or negligent evoked his full savagery. One general was summarily dismissed from his post with the brutal injunction never to appear before him again.'
Which begs the question ‘why?' Napoleon did fire people who failed him. He also forgave and continued to employ those who had failed. It depended on the situation and who did what."

No, not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 81: ‘Domination was then more of a lifelong urge with Bonaparte; it was, like action, an essential therapy. Whereas the philosopher Descartes had sought to prove his individual existence by arguing ‘I think; therefore I am', Bonaparte in his won quest for identity might rather have said: ‘I order everybody about; therefore I am.'
Presumptuous psychobabble."

No, not an error but a differing interpretation. Just because it irritates you doesn't mean that it's wrong. Are you really in a position to call Barnett presumptuous?

"Page 81: ‘…social and national misfit…'
I would like to see documentation where it clearly demonstrates that Napoleon was a ‘social and national misfit.'"

No, not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 81: ‘Domination was then more than a lifelong urge with Bonaparte; it was, like action, an essential therapy.'
More psychobabble."

More difference in view.

"Page 83: ‘And so well designed for its purpose was this system that it outlasted Bonaparte himself, outlasted all France's 19th century changes of regime, and survives, even though much modified, to the present day. There are those who consequently admire it as proof of Bonaparte's constructive genius and of his service to France. But in fact it completed the betrayal of the democratic promise of the Revolution…'
What was the ‘democratic promise' of the Revolution? The Revolution produced a republic, not a democracy. Too many authors equate republican government of the late 18th century with democracy and that is a stretch. And how did Napoleon ‘betray' the Revolution?"

The Republic had representative democracy, voters selected electors who chose the government. Rather like the current US system. Is that also not a democracy? The Directory had a democratic constitution, with so many and so frequent elections, to positions of real power, that the government was often paralysed. Buonaparte replaced a democratic system which elected people with power with an elective system that chose people with no power.

"Page 84: ‘But [Napoleon] himself only took part personally in the discussions on the articles relating to the law of the family…strongly reflected…his low opinion of women.'
That is incorrect. A demonstration with factual references might have helped here."

What were his views of women? Again, no, not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 87: ‘In September 1800, however, he informed …Louis XVIII, the Bourbon king in exile, that, ‘You should not hope to return to France; you would have to walk over 100,000 corpses…'
Louis ‘the Unavoidable' had asked Napoleon to reinstate him as king. Napoleon politely refused but did offer him a pension."

Did you not look up the reference? Buonaparte is recorded as having said it, referenced in the book. Does a referenced quote not count if you don't like it?

"Page 88: refers to the Brumaire coup d'etat as a ‘boardroom takeover.'
Interesting analogy but inaccurate."

Again, not an error but a differing view.

"Page 88: refers to Napoleon as a ‘social misfit.'
Again, how? References would have been nice to have.

Not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 89: reference to Napoleon's coronation as ‘a further coup d'etat.'
The attempt is to vilify Napoleon and not to present facts through solid research."

How else would you describe the seizure of absolute power? Where is the justification that Barnett hasn't done "solid research"? Because you don't like his findings?

"Pages 92-95 on the Treaty of Amiens, et al: ‘For rather than lull them after the Peace of Amiens by behaving like a good neighbor bent on a quiet existence, he proceeded to breach the treaty in spirit and letter.'
Great Britain was just as guilty as France in breaching Amiens-the British had no intention of keeping the treaty and immediately upon the treaty being signed sought to cause trouble with France."

Again, not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 95: ‘The same personal flaws which had betrayed him into provoking England's mortal enmity were now to be demonstrated afresh in his preparations to crush her by invasion.'
Solid explanation of this interesting statement along with valid references might have been useful here."

Again, just because you don't like what is being said it doesn't mean that it isn't a valid view.

"Page 96: on the Boulogne camps…'The land forces were to be concentrated in four great camps, each to hold an army corps and its artillery, at Utrecht, Bruges, St. Omer and Montreuil, with a fifth at Brest as a diversionary threat to the restless English colony of Ireland.'
The camps along the channel were Brest, Montreuil, Boulogne, St, Omer, Bruges, and Utrecht."

Barnett does mention Boulogne as being one of the principal ports for the invasion flotilla, so not entirely wrong. You are in error though, as Brest isn't on the Channel.

"Page 98: ‘On 2 December 1803 he resoundingly dubbed the invasion forces ‘The Army of England.'
In June 1803 the army assembled on the Channel coast was named the Armee des Cotes de l'Ocean. In August 1805 it became the Grande Armee. It was never named The Army of England."

It is often referred to as the Army of England though, or rather l'Armee d'Angleterre", no more an error than referring to his invasion force in 1812 as the Army of Russia.

"Page 100: ‘…against the most formidable corps of sea officers in history…'
Nothing but blatant British nationalism at play here. In history? You've got to be kidding. If you really wanted to make a case for that ‘title' the senior leadership and officer corps of the US Navy in War II would be not only a contender, but the winner."

Certainly not an error but a differing interpretation. I would suggest that Barnett is referring to the men rather than to the materiel. How the officers of the USN in WW2 can be considered better than those of the RN in WW2 escapes me, never mind those of the RN in 1805. US chauvinism at play here, I think. So again, not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 104: ‘Yet this advance to the Danube constituted at the same time the retreat from Boulogne; the aftermath of the greatest strategic reverse Bonaparte had so far suffered. More, it was the consequence of the crassest blunders he had so far committed. For in additiona to provoking England's renewed belligerence and then failing in his foredoomed attempt to crush her by invasion, he had needlessly stirred up Russia's enmity again-and finally Austria's as well.'
What ‘retreat' from Boulogne? Austria, financed and encouraged by the British who desperately wanted the Grande Armee off the Channel, had invaded Napoleon's ally Bavaria. War was started by the Austrians."

Not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 105: ‘Thus Bonaparte gratuitously opened the door for English diplomacy in St. Petersburg and ushered it inside, with the result that after the customary long drawn-out negotiations the Anglo-Russian alliance was signed in May 1805 and ratified by the Tsar in July.'
Page 106: ‘The coming campaign against Austria was therefore even more needless in terms of the real interest of the Frnech people than those of 1796-1797 and 1800.'
That the campaign of 1805 was ‘needless' is one of the most ridiculous statements I have ever seen in what is supposed to be a factual account of Napoleon's life and campaigns (which it isn't)."

Again, not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 107: ‘Bonaparte himself was not much of a military innovator, but content instead to make war with this hybrid army as he found it.'
The army was formed into homogenous divisions of infantry and cavalry; the corps system was implemented from 1800; the artillery train was created by Napoleon in 1800; the cavalry reserve was created-just a few of the military innovations made by Napoleon."

Not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 107: ‘After 1800, however, Marmont, whom he appointed Inspector-General of Artillery, had set about creating the artillery arm which was to dominate Bonaparte's later battles. For the first time civilian drivers of gun teams were replaced by military personnel. Mechanical parts such as wheels were standardized. The enormous task of recasting all France's artillery from four calibers…into three…demanding the use of Italian as well as French arsenals, was well on the way to completion by the opening of the 1805 campaign.'
The footnote to this passage reads: ‘It is often stated that Bonaparte greatly benefitted from the artillery reforms of the Comte de Gribeauval under Louis XVI, but this has been exaggerated. See Ragusa, II, p. 150.'
Page 108: ‘Off the battlefield, however, the Bonapartian army lacked system and discipline; it pillaged and straggled; it ignored or disobeyed its officers. On campaign its columns of route had all the regularity of migrating tribes of gypsies hung about with plunder, edible and otherwise. This was indeed the era which saw established the great French military tradition of ‘le systeme D', the ‘D' standing for debrouiller-muddle through. Even by 1805 only the Imperial Guard was equipped with its own wagon-train, the rest of the army scavenged as it went.'
First, ‘le systeme D' actually means to improvise or untangle. In modern parlance, the ability to ‘make bricks without straw.' Debrouiller means ‘to untangle.'"

Not an error but a differing interpretation. Systeme D does indeed refer to muddling through, rather than relying on precise planning, so no error there either.

"Page 108: ‘In Berthier, his chief of staff, Bonaparte possessed the perfect instrument for his style of command: a kind of super chief-clerk, untiring at routine work, but in no sense the equivalent of a modern chief of staff who proffers strategic advice or takes decisions on his own responsibility.'
This is a continued inaccurate slight against Berthier, Napoleon's chief of staff and originates from Jomini's personal malice against Berthier. In short, Napoleon and Berthier formed one of the greatest operational partnerships in military history and Berthier was one of the great chiefs of staff of modern military history. His pioneering work in staff organization and functioning is still felt today."

Again (I'm getting tired of this) not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 109: ‘This strategy bore strong resemblences to the Schlieffen Plan of 1914: in the simple grandeur of the conception of a flank march by almost the entire army…'
The outflanking of Ulm and the Austrians in 1805 was not done by a ‘flank march' but by a deep envelopment into the Austrian rear."

A deep flank march, in fact. So, not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 109: ‘…as Marshal Marmont justly observes, ‘of that scorn for the rights of others of which Napoleon was often guilty when he believed himself the stronger.'
Much of what Marmont states has to be taken with a large salt pill. Having betrayed Napoleon and his country to the allies in 1814 Marmont spent much of the rest of his life attempting to justify his actions as well as attempting to get into the records of the 1813 and 1814 campaigns in the War Ministry to ‘fix' the errors that he committed as commander of the VI Corps."

So only the evidence of people who liked Buonaparte matter? So once again, not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 110: Ulm'…was a success that only just escaped being a disaster.'
Again, a ridiculous statement that is not based on factual material."

Not an error but a differing interpretation.

"Page 112: refers to ‘His nine-hundred mile long line of communications with Paris…'
What is overlooked here is that Paris was not Napoleon's base-the depots and bases established by the French along their line of communications, which would be shifted as the strategic situation changed, is ignored here."

Finally, as I'm getting really bored now, another case of a differing interpretation.

You've not proved much in the way of error I'm afraid, but you've shown very many differences of opinion and in interpretation.

Chouan05 Jun 2013 4:03 a.m. PST

"Well only if you use the Napoleon was an unprincipled self-aggrandizer defence. Barnett actually does Napoleon the favour (sort of) of taking him at his (first) word. Personally I'm convinced that Kevin is right about this, but one can surely see that being secretary of a Jacobin club and writing a Jacobin pamphlet might make you look like, umm, a Jacobin?"
Quite

"Chouan wants to trumpet Barnett's book when it is clear to everyone else I have spoken to (who has actually read the damn thing) that its fit only for burning."
No, I'm not "trumpeting Barnett's book, but I believe that it needs to be read to gain a balanced view.

"I've read it. I don't think it is fit for burning. I think it is a useful alternative viewpoint. Lots of the comments above are simply statements along the lines of "this opinion/analogy is invalid". Charitably one might respond "Oh really?". Less charitably, one might think "Says who?"
Quite

"A huge list of Corelli's mistakes and personal biases have been presented above for all to see.
Well sometimes I can see Barnett's mistakes and biases. And sometimes I can see those of the presenter."
Quite

"Well Chouan (pro-Barnett) and Gazzola (pro-Napoleon) both got dawghoused. How does that prove anything?"

Except that I'm not pro-Barnett; as has been pointed out, he is a serious Historian who has a view on Buonaparte. One can't dismiss that view out of hand because it doesn't agree with one's own. That would be very poor work from a serious Historian.

TelesticWarrior05 Jun 2013 8:20 a.m. PST

So Chouan, you don't really have anything to say about the charges of bias/error levelled at Barnett other than to keep repeating "No, not an error but a differing interpretation."

Also, neither you or Whirlwind have yet to comment on why you think it is exceptable for a so-called historian to resort to name-calling in a book that should focus instead on factual evidence.

Maybe I'll choose an historical figure at random, say John of Guant, and call him a Toady, a Mob leader, a Social and National misfit, a rootless wanderer, and the most illustrious squatter in Europe. Then, when someone calls me biased or in error towards John of Guant, I'll simply say "no, not an error but a differing interpretation". It won't really matter because I'm not an historian, but if I was an historian I would be viewed with deep suspicion. And that suspicion would be justified.

Whirlwind05 Jun 2013 8:30 a.m. PST

@TW,

You aren't serious are you?

Look, I opened a page of 'Swords…' at random. Elting calls Joseph Bonaparte a 'coward'. Does this make Elting worthless? Should we burn his books? Give him a 1* on Amazon?

Kevin calls Marmont a traitor. Should we stifle Kevin and think he has nothing important to say?

Of course not. The essential objection isn't the 'name-calling' but that you think the name is inaccurate. That is something different: a disagreement in interpretation.

Regards

TelesticWarrior05 Jun 2013 9:02 a.m. PST

Yes, I am serious.

The thing is your examples are not necessarily apt. A traitor is not a subjective thing. It is defined by Law. Marmont was a traitor in 1814, by definition. (whether Marmont did the right thing or not is another, very interesting, debate that we can have another day, but he is by definition a traitor).
In terms of calling Joseph a coward, it kind of depends on whether Elting backs up his claim with evidence doesn't it?
If Barnett wants to resort to calling Napoleon a Toady, a Mob leader, a Social and National misfit, a rootless wanderer, and the most illustrious squatter in Europe, then he had better justify his position. He hasn't. Neither have you or Chouan.
And if Barnett wants to resort to lazy multiple cheap-shot comparisons between Napoleon and Hitler, rather than let his evidence do his talking for him as a proper Historian should, then he is going to be labelled as biased isn't he, especially when analysed alongside all his other bizarre anti-Napoleon tactics. Basileus66 has made some very good points above concerning this issue, so I don't feel the need to add anymore to this specific issue.

Whirlwind05 Jun 2013 9:54 a.m. PST

The thing is your examples are not necessarily apt. A traitor is not a subjective thing. It is defined by Law. Marmont was a traitor in 1814, by definition. (whether Marmont did the right thing or not is another, very interesting, debate that we can have another day, but he is by definition a traitor).

This debate was already had. It was hotly disputed by posters on both side.

In terms of calling Joseph a coward, it kind of depends on whether Elting backs up his claim with evidence doesn't it?

No, it was a throw-away line. So we are all going to head off to now to Amazon to dish out that 1*.

If Barnett wants to resort to calling Napoleon a Toady, a Mob leader, a Social and National misfit, a rootless wanderer, and the most illustrious squatter in Europe, then he had better justify his position. He hasn't. Neither have you or Chouan.

Well he has justified. You just don't agree . That is the point, really.

And if Barnett wants to resort to lazy multiple cheap-shot comparisons between Napoleon and Hitler,

Did he? It has been a while since I read it cover-to-cover – which bits are you on about?

…rather than let his evidence do his talking for him as a proper Historian should, then he is going to be labelled as biased isn't he, especially when analysed alongside all his other bizarre anti-Napoleon tactics.

Again, you just don't agree with him. If he is biased 'against' are you then biased 'for'?

Basileus66 has made some very good points above concerning this issue, so I don't feel the need to add anymore to this specific issue.

I rather think that Chouan has made the very good points. Sentences of Barnett's have been dismissed as 'inaccurate' when the most that could be said of them is 'I disagree'.

Regards

Whirlwind05 Jun 2013 9:56 a.m. PST

"Well Chouan (pro-Barnett) and Gazzola (pro-Napoleon) both got dawghoused. How does that prove anything?"

Except that I'm not pro-Barnett; as has been pointed out, he is a serious Historian who has a view on Buonaparte. One can't dismiss that view out of hand because it doesn't agree with one's own. That would be very poor work from a serious Historian.

Chouan, please accept my apologies for lazy and inaccurate shorthand. I merely meant that the party disputing with you was pro-Napoleon, and he got dawghoused too.

Regards

TelesticWarrior05 Jun 2013 2:44 p.m. PST

This debate was already had. It was hotly disputed by posters on both side.
Nicely evaded by you. I'll repeat it again; A traitor is not a subjective thing. It is defined by Law. Marmont was a traitor in 1814, by definition. (whether Marmont did the right thing or not is another, very interesting, debate that we can have another day, but he is by definition a traitor).

No, it was a throw-away line. So we are all going to head off to now to Amazon to dish out that 1*.
You can do that if you like. I wouldn't know as I don't have Elting's book available. If it was an incautious throw-away line that Elting used it would still have no bearing at all on the intellectual honesty of Corelli Barnett.

Well he has justified. You just don't agree . That is the point, really.
No, I don't agree that calling Napoleon a Toady, a Mob leader, a Social and National misfit, a rootless wanderer, and the most illustrious squatter in Europe is a particularly useful approach for an academic to take, and I am even more suspicious of that approach when it comes from an Author who has also demonstrated a large number of cheap and rather laughable tactics to have a pop at an historical personage.

Did he? It has been a while since I read it cover-to-cover – which bits are you on about?
Some of the instances where Barnett resorts to comparing Napoleon to Hitler are listed in Kevin's original post. They are clear for all to see.

Again, you just don't agree with him. If he is biased 'against' are you then biased 'for'?
You missed my point or evaded it. An historian should let the evidence do the talking rather than resorting to lazy/cheap comparisons to historical figures that came later (just because those later figures have a monstrous image in the collective psyche of people). Basileus has already explained why this is important.

Sentences of Barnett's have been dismissed as 'inaccurate' when the most that could be said of them is 'I disagree'.
Fair enough, you disagree. That's your prerogative. It's my prerogative to point out that Corelli Barnett's book is a litany of biased nonsense and that anyone who cannot see that may themselves have an unbalanced outlook towards Napoleon.

Gazzola05 Jun 2013 3:35 p.m. PST

TelesticWarrior

Good post. But as we know, there will always be those against Napoleon, no matter what. Of course, that is their choice and their interpretation. But they just don't seem to get it when you try to tell them that their views are just that, their views, their opinions and their interpretations.

And some of them (you will probably know who I'm talking about), appear to believe you should interpret things the way they do and just can't accept or cope with anyone thinking differently.

Some even have to find another reason for your disagreeing with them, you must be pro-Napoleon or see him as some kind of God. Your opinion, intpretation certainly can't be right-it is not the same as theirs! How can you not think the way they do? And why do they think like that – because they actually think they know better and are right about everything they say concenring Napoleon.

But we've seem before, they come and go like the wind and probably will do right up to and after June 2015. I just laugh at their posts now.

Chouan06 Jun 2013 1:46 a.m. PST

Telestic Warrior
"Fair enough, you disagree. That's your prerogative. It's my prerogative to point out that Corelli Barnett's book is a litany of biased nonsense and that anyone who cannot see that may themselves have an unbalanced outlook towards Napoleon."

You have expressed your opinion about Barnett's book, but you haven't proved that it is a "litany of biased nonsense". All you and Brechtel198 have done is prove that you don't agree with Barnett's views; you've asserted that he's wrong, but haven't offered any proof at all.

Chouan06 Jun 2013 1:47 a.m. PST

Sorry Whirlwind, apology accepted, but not needed.

TelesticWarrior06 Jun 2013 2:26 a.m. PST

Chouan,
We have provided a good amount of evidence to suggest Barnett's book is biased to an unacceptable degree (I have a lot more evidence to present if it becomes necessary, but at this point it seems a waste of time). We have provided actual content in this discussion, which has now spread out into 4 different related threads. In return you and Whirlwind have provided no real content or de-constructive arguments in defence of Barnett. You both seem to think its OK to evade all the important issues and keep repeating "the author just has a differing interpretation", or similar evasive phrases. Not good enough I'm afraid. We're going round in circles so I'm out of the discussion until the situation changes.

Chouan06 Jun 2013 3:30 a.m. PST

Your prerogative. However, you, or rather Brechtel198, provided a list of points or statements made by Barnett, claiming that they were errors or gross bias. I addressed most of those points, and in every single case they were emphatically not errors. The only errors were of Brechtel198's making. Neither of you have offered evidence of Barnett's bias. All you have offered is evidence of Barnett's view being a different interpretation to yours. That is not the same thing at all. An example:

Brechtel gave this example:
"Page 100: ‘…against the most formidable corps of sea officers in history…'"

Barnett is making a valid point, the RN at that time could be described as such. Brechtel198 responds with:

"Nothing but blatant British nationalism at play here. In history? You've got to be kidding. If you really wanted to make a case for that ‘title' the senior leadership and officer corps of the US Navy in War II would be not only a contender, but the winner."

How is that anything but a different view? Barnett isn't in error, or even showing gross bias. He is giving his interpretation. Brechtel198 is, I would argue, showing his gross bias in favour of the USN. Two differing interpretations; not a right view and a wrong view, although my own personal view is that Brechtel198 is wrong in his assessment.
My response was:

"Certainly not an error but a differing interpretation. I would suggest that Barnett is referring to the men rather than to the materiel. How the officers of the USN in WW2 can be considered better than those of the RN in WW2 escapes me, never mind those of the RN in 1805. US chauvinism at play here, I think. So again, not an error but a differing interpretation."

I don't see that this example, which I chose at random, justifies your comment " In return you and Whirlwind have provided no real content or de-constructive arguments in defence of Barnett. You both seem to think its OK to evade all the important issues and keep repeating "the author just has a differing interpretation", or similar evasive phrases. ".
Nothing evasive, but a full response. Other "examples" selected by Brechtel198 aren't worthy of any more response than that given. For example,
""Page 88: refers to the Brumaire coup d'etat as a ‘boardroom takeover.'
Interesting analogy but inaccurate."

Again, not an error but a differing view."

Brechtel198 doesn't think it a good analogy. So? Brechtel198's opinion against Barnett's opinion. What is there to de-construct? No proof of error offered, just as assertion that his analogy is inaccurate.

Gazzola06 Jun 2013 3:34 a.m. PST

TelesticWarrior

We need the bad books and the negative interpretations to show how good the other books are and how some historians are biased, perhaps without even knowing it.

And the foreword in Barnett's book is interesting. He refers to himself as 'the author has sought' rather than, I have sought?

Is this an error on the author's behalf or does it suggest he did not write the book at all? Very odd for a modern day author!

Mind you, on the positive side, at least he does not mind using Napoleon's surname Bonaparte when the spelling changed, unlike some people.

TelesticWarrior06 Jun 2013 4:58 a.m. PST

Hi Gazzola,
you're right, even the bad books have their uses. I actually took a lot from Barnett's book when I read it many years ago. Barnett raises some very interesting ideas at times. He also shows that Napoleon is still despised by some academics to the point of irrationality (either that or Barnett was being very cynical, trying to be over-the-top controversial in order to create a stir and sell more copies).

My final opinion on Barnett is that his approach is actually counter-productive; long pieces of text that only focus on the negative aspects of somebodies life are a real turn-off. Who wants to read a couple of hundred pages of an author essentially saying "Bonaparte was crap, Bonaparte was crap, Bonaparte was crap, Bonaparte was like Hitler, Bonaparte was crap, Bonaparte was a poor General, Bonaparte was a baddie, Bonaparte was crap" and so on ad finitum? Well, I guess some people do!

But yes, you are right, all points of view are useful, one way or another. My personal approach to life is that all experiences are an opportunity to learn something. Experiencing polarity is how we learn. I guess it's important to try and not take myself and others too seriously!!

von Winterfeldt06 Jun 2013 5:23 a.m. PST

It is just about opinions – I share those of Whirlwind and Chouan – did anyone in case read the biography of Presser??

Barnett has an opinion, as well as Cronin – and in my edition of Cronin, the discussions about the worth of Napoleon biographies is there as well.

I found Cronins assesment entertaining, but as biased as the book, and yes this is my opinion.

some of his assesments are prooven today as completly wrong, Gourgaud a frequent liar – and acting as Napoleon's mouth after 1815, read Coppens, Waterloo, les mensonges.

Also Cronins statement about the memoires of Thiébault are wrong was well – for more read

THE FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY
COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
GENERAL PAUL THIÉBAULT
HIS LIFE AND HIS LEGACY
By
JACKSON L. SIGLER
A Dissertation submitted to the
Department of History
In partial fulfillment of the
Requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Awarded
Spring Semester, 2006

Gazzola06 Jun 2013 4:20 p.m. PST

We ALL have our opinions, we ALL have our viewpoints, and we ALL interpret events and historical characters differently.

Having your OWN viewpoint, opinion or interpretation, does not mean YOU are right or EVERYONE who disagrees is wrong. It just shows that people, life and history is and are far more complex than many want us to believe, and history is certainly not as black and white as some people would like to paint it – the same goes with the wonderful historical characters that made the history we so often discuss, argue and debate about. (and wargame of course)

Chouan07 Jun 2013 1:49 a.m. PST

So Brechtel198's personal opinion of Barnett's work isn't anything more than his personal opinion, especially as he could only find 4 errors in his list of issues with Barnett's book.
Which is what people have been saying all along.

TelesticWarrior07 Jun 2013 2:26 a.m. PST

Nobody's personal opinion is worth more than anyone else's personal opinion, that is why you cannot ever really 'prove' that an author has bias. Defenders of the faith can just keep saying "it's just his personal opinion, it's just his personal opinion, it's just his personal opinion" as they have done so here.
BUT,
I am also confident that anyone with a modicum of good sense will quickly spot that a book that only concentrates on the negatives of someone's career and in which almost every paragraph is a personal attack, as well as using some cheap/lazy tactics such as comparing that person to Hitler, is a book that has issues of bias.

Gazzola07 Jun 2013 3:34 a.m. PST

TelesticWarrior

Barnett should have stuck to books (and TV series) on the later wars, which were popular. But as I have just stated in another thread, Barnett was just using a completely negative and Anti-Napoleon basis to try and sell his book, in the same way that 'he who can't be named', used the joke about Waterloo being a Prussian victory.

Arteis07 Jun 2013 3:38 a.m. PST

… as we know, there will always be those for Napoleon, no matter what. Of course, that is their choice and their interpretation. But they just don't seem to get it when you try to tell them that their views are just that, their views, their opinions and their interpretations.

And some of them (you will probably know who I'm talking about), appear to believe you should interpret things the way they do and just can't accept or cope with anyone thinking differently.

Some even have to find another reason for your disagreeing with them, you must be anti-Napoleon or see him as some kind of Devil. Your opinion, interpretation certainly can't be right-it is not the same as theirs! How can you not think the way they do? And why do they think like that – because they actually think they know better and are right about everything they say concerning Napoleon.

But we've seem before, they come and go like the wind and probably will do right up to and after June 2015. I just laugh at their posts now.

PS: I've got no dog in this fight – just saying that the arguments are interchangeable when they focus on the personal traits of a dogged opposition. All you have to do is change some keywords ;-)

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