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" Killing Napoleon" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse08 Aug 2018 12:04 p.m. PST

"It was the evening of Christmas Eve. The streets of Paris were crowded with citizens. Some were shopping, some were eating and drinking. But others were plotting to murder the most famous and powerful man in the world. They wheeled their improvised bomb into town earlier that day, and waited. Then, amongst the milling crowd, they saw the target. Despite knowing that the bomb would kill indiscriminately, the fuse was lit, and the enormous explosion wreaked havoc.

The target for this early act of terrorism was the coach carrying Napoleon Bonaparte, who had seized power the year before and found himself the enemy of republicans and royalists alike. The terrorists belonged to the royal faction and although they failed to kill Napoleon, their atrocity hurled political violence in a new and terrifying direction in the country: towards a now familiar place where civilian casualties would be collateral damage and where bombs in packed streets and squares would be the new agents of terror.

This book sets the scene with Napoleon's coup and follows the cell of extremists as they prepare their plans and devise a weapon that became known as the Infernal Machine. After their attack, we follow the security services as they hunt down the perpetrators, baffled by the novelty of terrorism, as Napoleon uses public anger to launch a war on his opponents. Using first-hand accounts, trial transcripts and archival material, and with the drama of a detective story, Killing Napoleon recounts one of the great crimes of its era, a story still largely unknown in the English-speaking world, that was a powerful precursor to the terrorist threats we know today."

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Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2018 1:59 p.m. PST

Here is the funny thing…..

It should have been "so easy" to kill Napoleon, Hitler or Stalin. (I will concede it would have needed von Stauffenb ….I think Tom Cruise deserved an Oscar as an actor I never really rated up until then… to have been prepared to sacrifice himself for Long Live Sacred etc)

But no one did to try to kill these three (arguably I admit, when it really was too late to matter) not at the expense of their own lives. Risk of, yes…….

I would add Mao, Pol Pot, Willy Kaiser and Brezhnev to that list

But not one truly suicide bomber.

It is not our way. makes you wonder though……..

Only War and Peace suggests that we are all pawns to the will of a few powerful individuals. Post advent of Soviet writing is power to the people, the peasants, the proletariat….The people en masse can change the course of history….indeed that is inevitable (Soviet Doctrine told us).

Funny thing though. The role of the individual is not allowed. Pierre played by Sergei Bond. in the film W and P…if he had got near Boney as planned….

42flanker Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2018 3:36 p.m. PST

"But others were plotting to murder the most famous and powerful man in the world…"


("It was the evening of Christmas Eve…"
or, as we like to say in English, "It was Christmas Eve.")

Whirlwind09 Aug 2018 5:50 a.m. PST

But not one truly suicide bomber

I don't think that the conditions which usually produce suicide bombers – belonging to a group which perceives itself to be violently oppressed with little hope of successful conventional resistance – existed in Europe in Napoleon's time.

I suppose that a suicide bomber might have attacked Hitler or Stalin, but the bomber would almost certainly have to have been Jewish, Polish, Chechen or similar rather than a German.

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP09 Aug 2018 10:40 a.m. PST

Looks neat. It's not available on Amazon yet. I'd like to see a few more reviews. It has become difficult to convince myself I need another book.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse09 Aug 2018 10:47 a.m. PST



Hector Blackwolf09 Aug 2018 7:40 p.m. PST

When you consider how 'available' so many historical leaders were it is amazing how few controversial figures were actually assassinated.

It of course happened quite a lot, but when you consider how much security attends public figures these days it's interesting how few in the past fell to political radicals (rather than simply rival elites)

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse10 Aug 2018 11:09 a.m. PST

Interesting indeed!.


14Bore14 Aug 2018 2:40 p.m. PST

Only in a novel but Count Bezukov takes a shot at Napoleon

Jpnorth23 Oct 2018 8:28 a.m. PST

Just heard it should be out in January. Apologies for some of the purple prose used to promote the book. The text in the book is a bit more down to earth, promise.

Stoppage23 Oct 2018 9:38 a.m. PST


If they'd been so easy to kill then they wouldn't have reached to where they got!

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP23 Oct 2018 11:19 a.m. PST

Just back from my first ever trip to Prague. Visited St Cyril and Methodius cathedral twice. Had no idea the crypt would be open to vistors…….even Mrs Deadhead was so impressed she walked all the way back there next day.

Killing Heydrich was an exception and it was never repeated (other than Yamamoto or the attempt on Rommel by Keyes et al where the attackers were in uniform). I wonder if the awful reprisals had something to do with that.

Even then, however brave (which they surely were) the Czechs did flee the scene of the attack and clung to some hope of life. As did von Stauffenberg, which was probably just as well, in terms of the effect of an earlier death of Hitler on the course of WWII.

and you can have the "evening of Christmas Eve". That day starts at midnight and there is a morning, an afternoon, of Christmas Eve etc until 2400.

Strikes me as an interesting and (unusually) novel topic for our era of interest.

dibble26 Oct 2018 4:03 a.m. PST

I've had Tim Clayton's book THIS DARK BUSINESS since its release. I got through 104-105 pages before I put it back on the book-shelf. I've read some pretty bias stuff in my time but from what I had read, Clayton seems to be a self flagellating, lefty-liberal (Jacobin) English hater. Has anyone read this book through? Has Clayton found evidence that the British government were complicit in the attempted assassination?

I must say, that compared to this author, Cronin was a moderate and Roberts is to his right.

I have read other books on this subject but not one shows any evidence of British involvement in the attempt

Suffice to say that i won't be getting Clayton's latest related tome that comes out next year.

Paul :)

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Oct 2018 4:12 a.m. PST

"and although they failed to kill Napoleon, their atrocity hurled political violence in a new and terrifying direction"

I would argue that the French Revolution had already done that. They didn't call it "The Terror" for nothing.

42flanker Supporting Member of TMP26 Oct 2018 5:16 a.m. PST

I stand to be corrected but, as far as I know, the bombing attack of 24th December 1801 was a one-off, and- despite Andrew Robert's off-handed suggestion otherwise (discussed previously on TMP) nothing of the sort was attempted again during Napoleon's time in power.

I am not sure when the next reckless public 'terrorist' attack of that sort would be attempted. Developments in explosives and firearms would eventually make the task easier.

A 'cabinet' murder such as that of Czar Paul I was a different matter. Such killings are as old as history.

By contrast, Czar Paul's great-grandson Czar Alexander II, would die as a result of a public bomb attack in 1881, which was no less chaotic or bloody than that of the Royalist would-be assassins in 1801, but did succeed in fatally injuring the Czar.

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