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Chouan13 Jun 2013 5:56 a.m. PST

"However, I can back up my 'opinions' with fact from different reliable source material, so the criticism that I have for Barnett's opinions are from my own research into those areas."

But you haven't done so. All you've done is repeatedly quote other people's opinions and interpretations in order to prove Barnett wrong. It doesn't work that way. You've not proved him to be in error, just that you, and others don't agree with his interpretation, which isn't the same as proving him wrong.

"Barnett's book is an anti-Napoleon diatribe which greatly lessens its value and ranks it as propaganda, not history."

In your opinion, and, apparently, some other peoples' opinions. It still doesn't prove him wrong or his book to be propaganda. Repeating assertions doesn't give them any more weight or value. However many opinions you quote, they're still only opinions.

Gazzola13 Jun 2013 7:27 a.m. PST

Bulldog and Flecktarn

Yes, there are more important things to debate than the reputation of a great character of history like Napoleon. Er, but this is a Napoleonic thread do you not see the link?

And I don't take anything that seriously, honest, you are just assuming it. Perhaps you should stop assuming things and stop insulting one of the greatest commanders from history who, as you say, has been dead for 200 years and can't answer for himself. And yet here we are still discussing him and his exploits.

As I said, I found the way he wrote his preface quite odd for a modern day author, especially since he did not do the same with other titles and the recent reprint. To me, my opinion of course, it makes him sound full of himself, as if the author is someone different, seperate, important, instead of a biased, and in this case and in my opinion, a bad historian. Of course, he could have been badly advised by those in the industry to write the preface in such a way. But my opinion of the book is mainly based on what Barnett writes within the text.

His faults and bias have been shown by others and I agree with them completely. I hope that is clear enough for you now?

BullDog6913 Jun 2013 7:33 a.m. PST

Gazzola

Right. So it seems you now accept that writing his preface in the 3rd person is utterly irrelevant to the contents of his book, or the validity of the points he raises – you just found it 'odd'.

I note, however, that you go on to say:

"my opinion of the book is mainly based on what Barnett writes within the text"

Only 'mainly'?
What else impacts your opinion of the book?

TelesticWarrior13 Jun 2013 8:51 a.m. PST

Kevin,

Barnett's book is an anti-Napoleon diatribe which greatly lessens its value and ranks it as propaganda, not history
Yep, that just about sums it up really.


Gazzola,

Yes, there are more important things to debate than the reputation of a great character of history like Napoleon. Er, but this is a Napoleonic thread do you not see the link?
Lol, that one made me chuckle.
In regards to the accepted wording in book prefaces, the 3rd person usage of "the author" is perfectly acceptable. It does feel a little bit pompous but many of my old Lecturers told me to use it because it sounds better than "I think" or "It is my opinion" etc. But as someone else said, it is not necessary to criticize Barnett's Preface when the entire body of the main text is a litany of bias and dubious tactics that should be below an academic historian when writing a Biography of an historical figure.


Chouan,
I still find it bizarre that you have totally failed to spot the rather obvious tell-tale signs of bias in Barnett's book.

Some tell-tale signs;
- The author has almost nothing positive to say about Napoleon in hundreds of pages of text. Focusing only on the negatives is another sign of intense bias. Napoleon raised himself from humble origins to the most powerful man in Europe & he is widely regarded as one of the greatest military commanders in history; with this in mind do you think the author may had had it in him to find SOMETHING positive to talk about in a Biography of Napoleon? either from a military, governmental, leadership or personal point of view?
- The author resorts to comparing Napoleon with Hitler, a cheap trick used to influence the opinion of the reader.
- The author resorts to derogatory name-calling, another sign that the author is coming from a personal agenda rather than a balanced approach.
- The author refers to Napoleon as "Bonaparte" throughout, and Titles his book in that way.
These are perhaps the main signs of bias, although there are other issues with the book not directly related to bias, such as factual errors, poor referencing/citation and the fact that the Author seems to have only a very poor grasp of Napoleonic principles of Warfare (quite a big problem for someone attempting to write a book on Napoleon).

If someone doesn't like Napoleon (and there are many people on this forum that fall into that category) then that is fine, and I can see why they might like Barnett's book. But have the honesty to admit the book has a clear anti-Napoleon agenda.

Flecktarn13 Jun 2013 9:02 a.m. PST

Gazzola,

I do seriously worry about someone who sees anything posted on here as "insulting" Napoleon; would you prefer that posting anything negative about him was banned? That would turn TMP into an online version of somewhere like North Korea.

It does seem that you have rather more invested in defending the Corsican dwarf's reputation than is healthy for a normal human being.

Flecktarn13 Jun 2013 9:40 a.m. PST

Telestic Warrior,

I rather agree that Barnett's work on Napoleon is a very poor piece of historical writing; sadly, this is also true of some of his other works, which are riddled with inaccuracies and rather sweeping opinions.

However, of course this does not mean that everything that he claims about Napoleon is inaccurate and neither does it mean that, by some curious process, Cronin's almost equally biased work is rendered entirely accurate.

I suspect that the truth is that Napoleon, as with virtually all human beings, had some good characteristics and some bad ones. In the round, I would rather agree with the late David Chandler's borrowed description of him as a "great, bad man".

Gazzola13 Jun 2013 10:03 a.m. PST

Flectarn

Posting something negative is prefectly acceptable, and many have posted negative comments here, as you well know. But then there are others, like yourself, who like to insult historical characters like Napoleon.

Your post to TelesticWarrior was very interesting. Napoleon was, after all, just a man, and, as you state yourself, all men have their good and bad points. That has always been my view about most of the great characters of history, including Napoleon. But that view, when placed alongside your insult calling Napoleon a Corsican dwarf, displays you may not really believe what you post. Such an insult is way beyond saying something negative and it certainly says more about you.

Gazzola13 Jun 2013 10:13 a.m. PST

BullDog69

You seem a little troubled that I find Barnett's preface in his little book odd. Don't worry about it man, move on. However, TelesticWarrior said it feels a little pompous, which is spot on and I should have used that expression. It does, in my opinion, sound a little pompous and after reading Barnett's text, pompous fits in neatly with describing the author. A pompous book which is basically anti-Napoleon propaganda. That's my opinion.

And you are being petty about the 'mainly' bit, so I'll be equally petty. It is 'mainly' Barnett's biased negative text that persuades me that this is bad example of a book about one of the greatest characters of history. The pictures don't have that 'impact', the front cover does not have that 'impact'. It is 'mainly' the text that has that impact. Got it now?

Flecktarn13 Jun 2013 10:24 a.m. PST

Gazzola,

I love the assumptions in your post; you really are quite an amusing dude:).

Please refer to my earlier post concerning the apparent lack of a sense of humour among certain posters here; I think that you have just proved my point;).

By the way, are you the John Walsh who has had some articles published in a wargames magazine?

Chouan13 Jun 2013 12:00 p.m. PST

"Chouan,
I still find it bizarre that you have totally failed to spot the rather obvious tell-tale signs of bias in Barnett's book."

What makes you think I've failed to spot it? I simply said that it served as a good balance with Cronin. If you read Cronin, then you need to read Barnett, and Forrest, for balance.

"Some tell-tale signs;
- The author has almost nothing positive to say about Napoleon in hundreds of pages of text. Focusing only on the negatives is another sign of intense bias. Napoleon raised himself from humble origins to the most powerful man in Europe"

Humble origins? You mean a family of hereditary nobles.

"he is widely regarded as one of the greatest military commanders in history; with this in mind do you think the author may had had it in him to find SOMETHING positive to talk about in a Biography of Napoleon? either from a military, governmental, leadership or personal point of view?"

By some people. Most books on Buonaparte are positive towards him, a text that points out the negative side of his career provides a good balance to the often near hagiography written about him.

"- The author resorts to comparing Napoleon with Hitler, a cheap trick used to influence the opinion of the reader."

No, that's either a misreading, or misunderstanding of what you've read, as has been pointed out elsewhere.

"- The author resorts to derogatory name-calling, another sign that the author is coming from a personal agenda rather than a balanced approach."

Such as?

"- The author refers to Napoleon as "Bonaparte" throughout, and Titles his book in that way."

So? It was a version of his name, so why not use it?

"These are perhaps the main signs of bias, although there are other issues with the book not directly related to bias, such as factual errors, poor referencing/citation and the fact that the Author seems to have only a very poor grasp of Napoleonic principles of Warfare (quite a big problem for someone attempting to write a book on Napoleon)."

Ah, the errors! What are these factual errors? Brechtel198 trawled through the whole book and found 4 minor errors, as has been repeatedly pointed out before. The "poor referencing" canard has also be laid to rest by others elsewhere.

"If someone doesn't like Napoleon (and there are many people on this forum that fall into that category) then that is fine, and I can see why they might like Barnett's book. But have the honesty to admit the book has a clear anti-Napoleon agenda."

I'm not aware that anybody has questioned Barnett's agenda; the book, as I've indicated above, offers a good balance to works on near hagiography, like Cronin's. Nobody has argued that it is a fair and balanced book; there are plenty of those to read. But, the book uses evidence to present an alternative view. That the view is negative doesn't make the book wrong or bad or unreadable, any more than Cronin's.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2013 12:16 p.m. PST

And which 'evidence' is that?

B

Chouan13 Jun 2013 12:34 p.m. PST

I would suggest that his evidence can be found in the footnotes and the bibliography, as discussed earlier. That's where one usually finds the sources of evidence in a book.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2013 12:39 p.m. PST

Except that, as already stated and shown, the sources and references in Barnett's book are just a little thin and none support the idea that Napoleon was a Jacobin. And that has been shown in detail.

And I, for one, have questioned Barnett's agenda here. Again, it comes across as an anti-Napoleonic diatribe with poor sourcing and too much opinion.

B

Flecktarn13 Jun 2013 12:40 p.m. PST

It seems to me that people with opposing viewpoints have become locked in a rather pointless argument here which is rapidly descending towards an "angels on the head of a pin" level, with Gazzola providing occasional bouts of amusement.

It is quite clear that Barnett is biased and is out to make a case, which is pretty much his standard approach. It is also obvious that he really does not have a firm understanding of his subject or the context of the era; again, this is a problem which is also apparent in some of his other works.

However,some of the anti-Barnett arguments being put forward here smack of desperation and demonstrate a lack of understanding of the nature of historical research. All historians are biased to some extent, and virtually all historical data (except usually for such solid issues as dates etc) is capable of more than one interpretation.

To quote other authors as some form of proof that Barnett is "wrong" is a very poor methodology, especially given that most English speaking authors on the period are biased in favour of the man that I shall continue to occasionally refer to as the Corsican dwarf. If someone wants to "prove" that Barnett is wrong about his subject, then use primary research to do so, not the rehashed writings of other biased authors. Better still, stop such a pointless argument, there is no academic value to it and you are not going to persuade each other; you are just providing amusement for the rest of us.

Flecktarn13 Jun 2013 12:46 p.m. PST

Just as an aside, it is fairly apparent that Bonaparte was a Jacobin for a while, even if he was not an entirely whole-hearted one. As Jacobinism was one of the milder and more sensible political ideas that emerged from the revolution, informing much of our modern western democratic outlook, I fail to see why Barnett used it as a stick to beat his subject and why Brechtel (among others) is so desperate to clear Bonaparte of any association with it. To be described as a Jacobin should hardly be considered an insult.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2013 1:32 p.m. PST

Not according to those who lived through the Revolution for that is exactly what the Jacobins became known as-radicals and fanatics. I would think being referred to as such is highly insulting.

b

TelesticWarrior13 Jun 2013 1:55 p.m. PST

What makes you think I've failed to spot it? I simply said that it served as a good balance with Cronin. If you read Cronin, then you need to read Barnett, and Forrest, for balance.
So you are admitting then that Barnett's book suffers from rather obvious tell-tale signs of bias? Phew, finally. See Flecktarn, we are getting somewhere.
I haven't read Cronin. I get your point about balance but a piece of work needs to stand on its own merits, not in comparison to another book you deem to be flawed in the other direction. Sorry to use a cliche, but two wrongs don't make a right.

Humble origins? You mean a family of hereditary nobles.
Yep, Corsican ones. Hardly big players in France or on the European stage. I find it fascinating that Napoleon went from being a total unknown (outside Corsica) to the ruler of France and then most of Europe. That's a pretty good achievement even if you don't like the man.
You also haven't really addressed my main central point that "The author has almost nothing positive to say about Napoleon in hundreds of pages of text…….do you think the author may had had it in him to find SOMETHING positive to talk about in a Biography of Napoleon? either from a military, governmental, leadership or personal point of view?". Like I said above, if you deem other books to be near hagiography that still doesn't get Barnett off the hook.


No, that's either a misreading, or misunderstanding of what you've read, as has been pointed out elsewhere.
Not at all, we have given clear instances of where Barnett has opted to compare Napoleon to Hitler, and Basileus66 has written a number of very good posts to explain why this is a poor approach for an Historian to take.
I have also listed many times the specific incidences where Barnett resorts to name calling, and others have explained why he chooses to ALWAYS refer to Napoleon as Bonaparte. I think we are just going round in circles on these points.


Nobody has argued that it is a fair and balanced book;….But, the book uses evidence to present an alternative view. That the view is negative doesn't make the book wrong or bad
So are you then stating that it is NOT a fair and balanced book?

redcoat13 Jun 2013 2:20 p.m. PST

I find it fascinating that Napoleon went from being a total unknown (outside Corsica) to the ruler of France and then most of Europe. That's a pretty good achievement even if you don't like the man.

Substitute 'Hitler', 'Austria' and 'Germany' for 'Napoleon', 'Corsica' and 'France' and that sentence suddenly sounds less savoury. Rather sums up one of the reasons many of us are no so keen on old Boney.

TelesticWarrior13 Jun 2013 2:49 p.m. PST

redcoat,
I don't think it's very helpful to directly compare the two any more than it is to compare Tsar Alexander & Napoleon, or the Obama government and Napoleon, or the Bush government and Hitler. If there is a unifying feature it is that all these people believe in collectivism, synarchism and massive centralisation of power, they just go about it in different ways and in different forms.

But if we substitute the words we get;
I find it fascinating that Hitler went from being a total unknown (outside Austria) to the ruler of Germany and then most of Europe. That's a pretty good achievement even if you don't like the man.
The statement is still probably true, it IS a fascinating rise to power, and it IS a good achievement from the point of view of the Predator mind. Not so good for the rest of us, mind you. That is why I always say we have to resist centralisation and big government. It always ends up going in the same direction….I don't buy into the idea of Napoleon being the bogey-man, basically because the British and Austrians and Russians were trying to do the same thing. Napoleon was just better at it at that particular moment in History.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2013 3:05 p.m. PST

'Substitute 'Hitler', 'Austria' and 'Germany' for 'Napoleon', 'Corsica' and 'France' and that sentence suddenly sounds less savoury. Rather sums up one of the reasons many of us are no so keen on old Boney.'

I've found over the years that the above argument is either one of desperation because the argument is being lost, or it is the refuge of the ignorant.

In the comparison above, it is a great insult to Napoleon and a compliment to Hitler which he does not deserve.

JC Herold said it much better, however:

'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 had 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 a handful of 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.'

Finally, if you believe this statement of yours, 'Rather sums up one of the reasons many of us are no so keen on old Boney' why are you here? Do you just want to make somewhat ignorant and invalid comparisons to denigrate a historical figure that you don't like?

B

redcoat13 Jun 2013 3:11 p.m. PST

I don't buy into the idea of Napoleon being the bogey-man, basically because the British and Austrians and Russians were trying to do the same thing. Napoleon was just better at it.

I suppose that is true to an extent. C18th Prussia, Russia and Austria were happy to attack each other or their less powerful neighbours (i.e., Poland, Turkey) to take this or that province. It seems pretty clear that Frederick the Great and the French would have been happy to see the disintegration of Austria in the War of the Austrian Succession, and that Austria, Russia and France aimed to reduce Prussia to second-rank status (or worse) in the Seven Years War.

Where the aggressive acquisitiveness Napoleon's France differed from these competing C18th powers is surely in the extent and scale of the horrors that his wars unleashed. "What are the lives of a million men to someone like me?" as he put it himself to Metternich in 1813 (or, "I was born on a battlefield. I couldn't give a Bleeped text about the lives of a million men."). And that excludes the horrors that his mas armies inflicted on civilian populations.

redcoat13 Jun 2013 3:31 p.m. PST

Finally, if you believe this statement of yours, 'Rather sums up one of the reasons many of us are no so keen on old Boney' why are you here? Do you just want to make somewhat ignorant and invalid comparisons to denigrate a historical figure that you don't like?

Because the Napoleonic Wars fascinate me and because, in particular, I take no small satisfaction that my national forebears made such a major probably the major part in removing General Bonaparte from power and restoring peace to the European continent.

Gazzola13 Jun 2013 4:02 p.m. PST

redcoat

Peace for only less than 40 years, then you get the Crimean War – hey, who was involved in that war – oh yeah, Britain.

By the way, Britain did not help in defeating General Bonaparte – he was an Emperor – do get it right.

Edwulf13 Jun 2013 4:17 p.m. PST

Perfectly valid comparison to make.

Hitler/Ceasar/Alexander/Napoleon/ Ghengis.. All war leaders, all imperialistic, all had a lasting impact. All charasmatic men who have left large scars on demographics still felt today. Anyone one of them could be compared to the other.

There are many differences between them all too. Three of them are pagan. But that does not mean the comparison is invalid. Only one of them was a racist genicidal maniac. Maybe Ceaser too actually.
Again that doesn't invalidate the comparison.

I see many parallels between Napoleonic France – Imperial Rome – and the third Reich. I also recognise the differences. Just because I happen too admire one or two (Ceasar and Alexander) and loath one (Hitler) doesn't mean there are no parallels between them.

So yes. Hitler and Napoleon. Ones dachshund and ones a poodle. But they are both still dogs. They are cut from the same cloth but Hitlers is just from a dirtier ream.

Insulting Napoleon. Perfectly fine thing to do. He's been dead for nearly 200 years. Considering the insults heaped upon Bernadotte for example. Who was not only brave but also a respected monarch pf Sweden with living decendents. Who is frequently insulted on here, as are others. General Whitelocke has been dead for roughly 200 years, I doubt if I called him a buffoon then Gazzola, Tellastic and Brechtel would tell me to speak more respectfully. Or is it only wrong to insult the ancient dead that THEY admire.

I'd say infact ALL the leaders and commanders are open to criticism, ridicule and the odd insult.

Gazzola13 Jun 2013 4:38 p.m. PST

Flecktarn

You have to be desperate and scraping the barrel for anyone to take Barnett's book seriously.

Besides all the errors and insults offered by other people, you only have to go to page 18 to see the author's true leanings towards his subject. Most historians describe Napoleon feeling out of place at Brienne, but Barnett has to describe him not just as feeling like or being treated as a misfit, but a mongrel creature. He obviously jumped on the creature bit from Segur's memoirs, which suggests his views might be based solely on questionable information in certain areas. The term mongrel was unneeded but employed because Barnett wants to dehumanise Napoleon.

He describes Augereau (page 55), one of Napoleon's officers who became a Marshal, as 'a hatchetman'. Why, because he wants to portray Napoleon as a gangster. He did it earlier (mob leader-page 25) as already mentioned by other posters.

I could go on and on but I don't want to waste too much time on this waste of a book. A funny bit is when he describes Napoleon has having growing 'love of domination' (page 16) Where does he get this fantasy from – from the fact he was able to change from the Carthaginian group to the Roman group at school.

Another funny bit is when (page 115) he tries to knock Napoleon's military tactics – and this at Austerlitz! He states,' Not for the first time Bonaparte was waiting anxiously for someone to turn up.' So I guess Wellington was equally at fault at Waterloo, waiting for 'someone', in this case night or the Prussians to turn up? Does he mention that-does he heck! I wonder why?

But you have to read these books to see how far some people will go in attempting to pull down Napoleon, even 200 years after his death. Read them and laugh and then read some good books on Napoleon and the Napoleonic period.

BullDog6913 Jun 2013 10:26 p.m. PST

Gazzola

OK so it is 'mainly' the text and also to a lesser degree the pictures and the front cover? Because, as you finally admitted, it would be 'absurd' to dismiss the contents of a book based on the preface being written in the 3rd person.

I think finally understand your position, though I still have no idea why you mentioned the preface in the first place as you now say that has no influence, whereas the pictures and the front cover do (only a slight one, apparently though I would suggest in any way judging a book by its cover is not a good idea). Though you are quick to point out that TelesticWarrior also personally finds the use of the 3rd person 'pompous', you will note he also said that was how he was taught to write by his lecturers. (Please note he also said the book was 'worth reading' in another thread, before getting a little hot under the collar and getting dog-housed when asked to explain why a 'cheap copy' would contain more valid information than a non-cheap copy).

I am intrigued, however, that you appear to think no one has any right to 'insult one of the greatest commanders in history'. Though I have not seen anyone 'insulting' Napoleon as such (perhaps you missed the humour in some earlier posts?), I suggest you have a look at some of the other boards on TMP and you will see that the likes of Haig and Buller (to name two off the top of my head) come in for much worse abuse. I assume you think they, like Napoleon, should be lionised and their records / judgement / character never queried or scrutinised?
Please can you provide a list of those historical commanders who you feel CAN be criticised?

von Winterfeldt13 Jun 2013 10:51 p.m. PST

Exactly, those who deny the right to "insult" – N – insult frequently others, like contributors on this board, or brave men like Bernadotte, Moreau, Ney, Marmont, Dupont, to name a few.

basileus6613 Jun 2013 10:57 p.m. PST

This thread is like a zombie! No matter how dead it looks, that it is still alive! And apparently it likes to eat brains too…

basileus6613 Jun 2013 11:06 p.m. PST

Perfectly valid comparison to make.

Hitler/Ceasar/Alexander/Napoleon/ Ghengis.. All war leaders, all imperialistic, all had a lasting impact. All charasmatic men who have left large scars on demographics still felt today. Anyone one of them could be compared to the other.

Only if you decide to ignore history at all, of course, and focus in the surface.

Neither their social milieus, nor their origins, nor their understanding of the world and the position of their people and themselves on it, nor their cultural biases, nor their comprehension of politics, were similar. Not even Caesar and Alexander are comparable, even if they are the most culturally similar of all of them.

History doesn't repeat herself. It's only lazy historians who believe she does.

Edwulf13 Jun 2013 11:39 p.m. PST

So.

The study of history is meaningless? As of course no real lessons can be learned… Ill explain a bit more in a minute. My daughter is crying.

redcoat13 Jun 2013 11:45 p.m. PST

As many as seven million people died as a consequence of the Napoleonic Wars. Millions more were despoiled, ruined, raped, etc.

The Napoleonic Wars were thus named because they were caused principally by the determination of one individual to impose his hegemony on Europe.

Hence the comparison with warlords like Hitler is – in this respect – perfectly valid.

Flecktarn14 Jun 2013 1:44 a.m. PST

Gazzola,

Why are you arguing against a position that I have not taken up? You really are worth having around for the comedy value alone:).

In a way, I almost admire your ability to contradict yourself; you state that you "don't want to waste too much time" on Barnett's book, yet you seem rather obsessed with attempting to denigrate a book which most people regard as being massively flawed, even to the point of arguing with me about it when I have clearly stated that I find it to be a poor piece of work by an historian whose approach to his craft is questionable.

Try to keep this in context; we are a bunch of guys who play war with toy soldiers arguing about a Corsican dwarf who has been dead for nearly 200 years. There is no need for you or anyone else to become so agitated over it.

I am not sure if it was my "Corsican dwarf" comment that led someone to stifle me; if it was, then all that I can say is that they seriously need to get a life.

TelesticWarrior14 Jun 2013 2:02 a.m. PST

redcoat,

As many as seven million people died as a consequence of the Napoleonic Wars. Millions more were despoiled, ruined, raped, etc.
The Napoleonic Wars were thus named because they were caused principally by the determination of one individual to impose his hegemony on Europe.

The Napoleonic Wars are so named because Napoleon was the dominant character of the age and it is a convenient appellation.
But it is not correct to over-simplify and say that he personally was the primary cause of all the fighting. That would be totally wrong. Europe was at war for 22 years and Napoleon was only in charge of France for the last 15. Don't you think the French revolution might have had a lasting impression on European stability? Nothing happens in isolation. The other European monarchs dis-liked Napoleon and France because of what they represented. Don't forget that they attacked Napoleon in 1800, 1805, 1806, 1809, 1813, 1814, & 1815. How does it make any sense at all to say Napoleon was the principle cause?
How do you factor in Russia's wars with Sweden and the Ottoman Empire? Was that Napoleon's fault too? How about Britains war with the U.S. and her various invasions and colonisations around the world. Britain was seeking hegemony and domination in global trade. She was quite happy to fund all the Wars and armies that you seem to want to ascribe to Napoleon.

To repeat, nothing exists in isolation.


Constant aggressive expansionist policy as exhibited by Hitler's 3rd Reich is one thing.
Defeating various coalitions one by one as THEY ATTACK YOU and then making them pay for it once you have smashed them is another thing entirely.

Edwulf14 Jun 2013 2:19 a.m. PST

You mean the USAs war with Britain.

THEY started it after all.

Peeler14 Jun 2013 3:55 a.m. PST

Corsican dwarf – that did make me chuckle :) Appreciate the point about French measurements being different too.

So Napoleon was an average height overly aggressive expansionist tart then. Got to admit, the bloke did well for himself. At others expense. As for Britain being expansionist too, well yes, it was. But that turned out rather better for those whom we governed for a while, to the extent that the commonwealth is still going.

Peeler14 Jun 2013 3:59 a.m. PST

Sorry about the split post – so, to compare Britain with France, or with Germany later, just does not stack up. Look through history, I don't see France under Napoleon, short or not, saving Europe from itself, like Britain did against Napoleon and later against Hitler.

Whilst I can appreciate the point that Napoleon, like Hitler, rose to the top from nowhere, if either one, in theory, were to appear in my local, I'd be inclined to give them a good slap.

redcoat14 Jun 2013 4:10 a.m. PST

The French Revolutionary Wars were initiated by factions within France which saw war as a useful tool to advance their particular objectives. The Brissotins wanted war as a way of radicalising the Revolution and destroying the monarchy. The Fayettists saw the war as a means of doing the opposite. Both factions (and the King) in fact were destroyed by it. The Great Powers were little interested in war with Revolutionary France and, as soon as was practicable, disengaged to seek more profitable enterprises elsewhere. It was the French who, because they could not disassemble their mass armies of brutalised volunteers and conscripts without causing internal chaos, decided to expand the conflict beyond France's natural borders: hence Bonaparte in Italy in 1796-97 and Egypt in 1798-99.

The Allied coalitions against Napoleon Bonaparte as First Consul/Emperor were essentially *defensive* in nature, designed to resist his efforts to partition their territories and establish French hegemony in Europe. In short, if you put your foot on my throat you cannot condemn me for using force to try to remove it.

Chouan14 Jun 2013 4:32 a.m. PST

Brechtel198, rather than making curious statements like this "Not according to those who lived through the Revolution for that is exactly what the Jacobins became known as-radicals and fanatics. I would think being referred to as such is highly insulting."
I would suggest that you read something on the Revolution, and the Jacobins, such as those books I suggested elsewhere. That might finally convince you that radicals and fanatics are not the same thing, and that the Jacobins, of whom Buonaparte was an active member, were not the monsters that you appear to think them. Why would anybody think it insulting to be thought of as a Jacobin. Clearly you do, but on the other hand, despite many people explaining who they actually were, you persist in believing them to be the "fanatics" of your own imagination. Is it, perhaps, as I've suggested elsewhere, that your own current political viewpoint leads you to see that a suggestion that a hero is of the radical left as being somehow a negative?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP14 Jun 2013 4:46 a.m. PST

'The Allied coalitions against Napoleon Bonaparte as First Consul/Emperor were essentially *defensive* in nature, designed to resist his efforts to partition their territories and establish French hegemony in Europe. In short, if you put your foot on my throat you cannot condemn me for using force to try to remove it.'

Nonsense. Napoleon ended the Wars of the Revolution by 1800 and was confirmed with the Peace of Amiens with Great Britain.

The wars began again with Amiens failing and that fault is as much Great Britain's as it was France's, though the British government by its actions in Switzerland and elsewhere probably had no intention of keeping the peace.

As Britain was the Coalitions' paymaster, it was she who goaded Austria into invading Bavaria in 1805 supported by Russia. Britain wanted the French off the Channel and that was, for them, the best course of action.

The Prussians declared war in 1806 and were the aggressor. Russia had not concluded peace with France after Austerlitz and continued their war with France supporting Prussia.

Jena/Auerstadt ended Prussia's main involvement and Tilsit in 1807 ended the war.

France was not the aggressor in any of these circumstances.

In 1809 Austria was again the aggressor and again invaded Bavaria expecting an 'uprising' of the German states of the Confederation. She again lost.

Spain was different. It was also a mistake on Napoleon's part. What probably instigated the invasion was the finding in Berlin of correspondence from Godoy that he would betray his alliance with France if Prussia won.

The 1812 campaing, also a great mistake on Napoleon's part, was the result of the failure of the Tilsit alliance. Alexander probably decided on war as early as 1810 and wanted the Duchy of Warsaw. The Poles refused and that was a precursor to war.

The campaigns of 1813 and 1814 were a continuation of the 1812 campaign.

The territorial results of the Congress of Vienna definitely demonstrated what the allies were after-more territory.

In 1815 the allies chose war, Napoleon did not.

B

TelesticWarrior14 Jun 2013 5:04 a.m. PST

I think I understand where all this is heading;
All of Napoleon's campaigns were ones of "shameless aggression" but all of the coalitions campaigns were ones of "defence", and Britain was heroically "saving Europe" from the Monster, whilst at the same time "Governing the conquered Colonials for their own benefit".

Oh, how I wish I could still cling to comfortable simplistic child-like fantasies and Nationalistic propaganda. Maybe that way I could find some value in Barnett's book. Maybe I could also join in with the modern delusion that the heroic West is spreading love and democracy (not drones and crony capitalism) in the middle East.

The Traveling Turk14 Jun 2013 5:25 a.m. PST

"The territorial results of the Congress of Vienna definitely demonstrated what the allies were after-more territory."

Really?

The only allied power I can think of, which ended the Napoleonic period with more territory than it had before 1800, is Russia. And a significant portion of the territory that it gained, it did so in alliance with Napoleon (Finland, for instance, parts of the Caucasus, and Bessarabia, were all acquired during the period of their alliance with France, not later in opposition, nor at Vienna.)

Prussia and Sweden ended the Congress with different territory from what they'd had in 1799, but not more. (Less, in fact, if I'm not mistaken, in both cases.)

What additional new territory did Spain, Portugal, Austria, or Britain acquire in the Congress of Vienna? They had territory restored to them, but "new" or "more"?

Britain may have walked away with a few new islands here or there, but that wouldn't have been at the Congress of Vienna.

So: aside from Russia's acquisition of Poland, which allied power got more territory out of the Congress of Vienna, than it had had, prior to Napoleon?

- -

However, if I'm not mistaken, until 1814 Napoleon never made peace without enlarging either French territory, and/or territory governed by French proxies.

Flecktarn14 Jun 2013 5:32 a.m. PST

In 1815, only someone who was delusional could not have realised that returning from Elba and retaking the imperial throne would result in war.

As for the allies being the aggressors, on a strategic military level they often were; that is undeniable.

However, one has to look at the reasons for their actions; revolutionary France had engaged in a series of wars of conquest and was now being ruled by what the crowned heads of Europe saw as a usurper, who also happened to be a great military commander who had stolen northern Italy for France during the revolution and had even attempted to conquer Egypt. In that situation, it is fairly easy to understand why they would not wait around for his armies to roll into their territory and would try to destroy him.

I agree that comparisons with Hitler are usually somewhat ridiculous, but this is one situation where an analogy can be drawn; in 1939, Britain and France went to war with Germany because of the German invasion of Poland, an event which was of very little practical concern to them. However, given Hitler's threats and history of aggression, they declared war in support of Poland. Outside of neo-Nazi and "revisionist" circles Britain and France are not seen as aggressors yet the adorers of Napoleon see those who declared war in similar circumstances as unprincipled aggressors.

Britain was not "saving Europe" during the Napoleonic era, it was taking an opportunity to expand its overseas empire while attempting to restore the balance of power in Europe in the way that suited it best. Self interest was the mainstay of British policy.

Chouan14 Jun 2013 6:35 a.m. PST

Of course. Self interest is always the best national policy. Look what happened when Britain went to war for moralistic reasons. WW1 bankrupted us, and WW2 destroyed our Empire.

basileus6614 Jun 2013 6:41 a.m. PST

The study of history is meaningless? As of course no real lessons can be learned…

I agree: lessons can't be learned from history. However, I don't think it is useless, quite the contrary. I believe its study is necessary to avoid history being abused and manipulated by demagogues, tyrants, and all of those unsavory characters that like to use Clio as a Bleeped text, instead the daughter of a god.

basileus6614 Jun 2013 6:42 a.m. PST

Look what happened when Britain went to war for moralistic reasons…

Surely you are not that naive, are you?

Gazzola14 Jun 2013 6:53 a.m. PST

Flecktarn

Let's get one thing straight. I did not stifle you. I have not and will not stifle anyone. The stifle, to me, is totally pointless.

You may well have upset someone by calling one of the greatest historical characters a Corsican dwarf, but it may have been for something else, I don't know. And I don't particulary care either. The expression did not upset me because it says more about you. However, I was a bit puzzled, considering, as you say, we are just a bunch of guys playing wargames, you felt you had to use such an insulting term. Do you use the same language to other military leaders, perhaps calling Wellington Pinocchio over his big nose, Blucher a raving pregnant elephant, etc, etc.

Using it suggests either you are being petty, trying to provoke people or have done no research as to Napoleon's actual height, because going by what you say Coriscan dwarfs are much bigger than other dwarfs. here's an idea, why don't you do some research on the height of dwarfs worldwide? Have a think about it.

And yes, far too much time has been wasted on this book. But if people keep saying things that should be challenged or deserve a reply, then why not continue to post? There are no rules here that say when you should or should not post or who you should or should not post to.

Gazzola14 Jun 2013 7:15 a.m. PST

BullDog69

Firstly, I have never stated that a book should be dimissed solely on the author's preface. Why make such a silly statement? I said I found it odd and agreed with TelesticWarrior that it felt pompous.

My opinion is that all books are worth reading, even the bad ones like Barnett's book. Virtually all books contain something of value, although finding anything of value in Barnett's little book is difficult. However, it is good to show how a biased author can write a book and how good the other books not written by him are.

I disagree with anyone insulting great historical characters. I'm talking about personal attacks here, not criticism of their military careers. After all, I have not, for example, heard anyone describe Wellington as Pinocchio because of his big nose. I think we should ALL have more respect for those that lived and made history and are not present to confront those 'brave' enough to insult them.

Peeler14 Jun 2013 7:30 a.m. PST

Would it be ok to insult Mr Hitler?

Edwulf14 Jun 2013 9:03 a.m. PST

Basilieus.

Possibly my feather weight mind is sparring with a heavy weight here, and my apologies for not being able to finish my earlier post. My daughter isn't very well. I could not get time to fully develop what I was trying to say.

Of course. Two men sepetated by generations. Either decades or centuries will be operating under different circumstances. I do not think this stops there being parallels between certain events, people or states. Do I think Gengis Khan, Ceasar, Alexander, Hitler, Napoleon are all exactly the same?
No.
But they are all in the foremost league of leaders and imperialists. They all "extended the limits of glory" so to speak. When I lump these men together its because very few have achieved so much/ caused so much devestation. Human nature hasn't evolved so much that these men don't share some traits.

The differences exist. But they dont invalidate the parallels.

The way I understand your position. Is each circumstance is unique. It can never be repeated. So study serves no purpose except being able to understand lies of dictators we disagree with.

I disagree. Not out of laziness or ignorance. But that I think there are patterns to human behavior that are more powerful than the superficial trappings of culture. History moves in cycles of unification and seperation.

Gazzola14 Jun 2013 3:16 p.m. PST

Peeler

There is no need to insult Hitler. What he did was an insult to mankind.

What I am saying is that I don't think people should lower themselves to insulting historical characters like Wellington, Napoleon, Caesar, Attila, Churchill etc, etc. Criticise and disagree or praise and agree with what they did, their military achievements etc, by all means nothing wrong with that. But why stoop to making personal attacks against people long dead and who we did not know. By not knowing, I mean none of us knew them personally, or rather we were not around to know the earlier characters, so none us know what they were really like.

People can only assume they know the characters by the knowledge of what they did and what others tell us they did, which could be seen in a negative or positive way, depending on who is is doing the telling and who is doing the listening. This is why it is always best to read as many accounts of battles, campaigns and historical characters as possible, so that we are not persuaded one way or another by one image or viewpoint, which, like Barnett's book, in my opinion, might be completely biased.

However, in terms of insulting historical characters, there are of course those 'brave' enough to do so, have no respect and who may get a 'personal' buzz out of doing it. But that's life I suppose.

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