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"Napoleon the Great" Topic


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518 hits since 12 Jan 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2019 10:50 a.m. PST

"Napoleon Bonaparte lived one of the most extraordinary of all human lives, transforming France and Europe in the space of just twenty years from 1795 to 1815. After seizing power in a coup d'état he ended the corruption and incompetence into which the Revolution had descended. In a series of dazzling battles he reinvented the art of warfare; in peace, he completely remade the laws of France and modernised her systems of education and administration. The impossibility of defeating his most persistent enemy, Great Britain, led him to make draining and ultimately fatal expeditions into Spain and Russia, where half a million Frenchmen died and his Empire began to unravel…."
Main page
link

Have anyone read this book?
If the answer is yes… comments please?

Thanks in advance for your guidance.


Amicaement
Armand

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2019 12:35 p.m. PST

The sample alone would keep me from ever reading the book. You could write whole volumes on the lies and half-truths in those five lines.

Artilleryman12 Jan 2019 2:46 p.m. PST

It is an interesting read but in the end a bit hagiographic. I do not believe the facts about Napoleon make him the hero of Europe this suggests. I would try the Adam Zamoyski book. It seems more balanced.

Brechtel19812 Jan 2019 3:43 p.m. PST

I've read them both and the Roberts volume is the more accurate and is also much better written. Zamoyski isn't bad, and is well worth the read, I just believe that Roberts is more accurate.

Brechtel19812 Jan 2019 3:43 p.m. PST

You could write whole volumes on the lies and half-truths in those five lines.


Perhaps you could elaborate?

MaggieC7012 Jan 2019 7:36 p.m. PST

For a truly balanced--and highly entertaining--activity, read Dwyer [Naps the Devil Incarnate], Zamoyski [Naps the Occasionally OK but Mostly Meh], and Roberts "{Naps who Hung the Moon].

And afterward, you will believe you were reading about three separate men with the same name. But there would be something for everyone to like here, depending on one's proclivities.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2019 7:45 p.m. PST

Shall we start with remaking the laws of France? I'll rate that one for a half-truth. The re-write was already being done when he seized power and his contribution was a raft of restrictions on women his hagiographers don't talk about much. (Maggie can elaborate.) But if someone had had the common decency to shoot him for his coup, France would still have had an updated version of the Corpus Juris Civilis. The Code Moreau perhaps? (And should we talk about just how binding the code was on His Imperial Majesty?)

Ending corruption and incompetence? Shall we discuss the profits made from selective enforcement of the Berlin and Milan decrees? Talk to Sam Mustafa about actually stealing from the poor boxes of churches like some third-rate bandit. "Lie" is the right word, and I'd use a stronger one if I had one handy.

Seizing the throne of Spain for his brother was somehow a plan to defeat Great Britain? In what alternate universe? Going with "lie" again. (And please note his complete inability to recognize the scale of the blunder: it's one of the hallmarks of absolute monarchs.)

"One of the most extraordinary of all human lives." Maybe. By what standard? Cold truth is, he's neither the first not the last general or politician to profit from the fall of a dynasty, and next to some of the others, he was born an aristocrat. I couldn't fit all the commoners or petty nobility who seized power in a coup in my house: they'd have to come in shifts. But then I'm generally unimpressed by the seizure of power.

I'll give you reinvention of warfare as neither a lie nor a half-truth, but I'm pretty sure anyone here who's worked the 18th Century can argue the contrary. And I'll abstain on education and administration. I simply don't know enough.

They all show up here, you know--the more militant absolute monarchs with a run of victories and body counts in the hundreds of thousands of millions--Genghiz Khan, Hitler, Mao, Tamurlane, Stalin…It always intrigues me that Napoleon and only Napoleon still has a cheering section.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2019 7:58 p.m. PST

Oh, Maggie. Our earlier discussion over the glories of a hyperactive monarch? (Clearly you've never had the sort of boss who calls you at home in the middle of the night with his wonderful idea, or rewards you Friday night with a project due Monday morning.) Contemplate two moderns of the type which used to be called "oriental despots." Would you rather live under the lethargic and fun-loving Kim Jong-un, or under the hard-working highly-educated Pol Pot?

Limited government for choice. But if it's going to be an absolute monarchy, always, ALWAYS hope he's lazy and unambitious. You'll live a lot longer.

MaggieC7013 Jan 2019 1:47 a.m. PST

Or the Type-A boss who invites you to dinner and gives you five minutes to eat because he's done in five.

I agree about the Corsican patriarchal Code--hogwash.

I agree about Spain. Utterly dumb.

There are arguments to be made either way--or more--on the other topics. Rarely is anything so black or white.

Duc de Brouilly13 Jan 2019 11:28 a.m. PST

Don't you just love the reasoned, balanced and nuanced viewpoints expressed on the Napoleonic boards. And just wait, it'll only take a few more posts before it degenerates into personal abuse.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP13 Jan 2019 2:14 p.m. PST

(smile)


Amicalement
Armand

MaggieC7013 Jan 2019 2:22 p.m. PST

Eh bien, monsieur le duc, why don't you contribute a reasoned, balanced, and nuanced opinion here for our delectation rather than offering a snide evaluation of those posts that do appear?

And do you really think the disagreement expressed thus far, minute though it is, will become a barrage of acrimony and ad hominem attacks?

Duc de Brouilly13 Jan 2019 3:21 p.m. PST

As I was saying …

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP13 Jan 2019 3:34 p.m. PST

Monsieur le duc forgets that this is the Napoleonics Board. We don't do personal abuse until someone brings up column vs line, or starts discussing French uniforms in 1809 and 1812. Then it gets vicious.

But even then, it never sinks to the level of the Conventions Board when someone brings up the Lancaster Host Resort.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP13 Jan 2019 5:03 p.m. PST

And I forgot the boss who loves the "brown bag lunch" where instead of taking a break from work, you get herded into a room and lectured at--on your own time, of course. It would be marginally less offensive if the lectures actually helped you at your job. But that's only a hypothesis: in years of those shenanigans, I never actually attended one with useful information.

Or the boss who can't understand why you can do things as fast as he can think of things for you to do, and his close relative who changes what he wants you to do faster than you can do it. At one point on one job, my various bosses were changing formats on a type of report so frequently that it was not possible to submit the report before the format changed again. (I took up date-stamping them: "format correct as of 1/15/05 3:30 PM.")

Gazzola13 Jan 2019 5:48 p.m. PST

Not every book will match the blinkered viewpoints of some people, and some I imagine won't dare read it just in case it does challenge their viewpoints. And a good book will always depend on not only who wrote it but also on who reads it. But really, people should not criticize a book they have not read – that's absurd! And Maggie370 is right, people should read as many versions about the same personality, battle, campaign or whatever. Only then can a reader try to develop their own viewpoints. The more you read the more you learn.

von Winterfeldt14 Jan 2019 4:32 a.m. PST

Boney the great liar, the great propaganda genius, the great traitor of the French Revolution, the great reactionist, the great censor, well great indeed ;-)).

It is clearly Boney's fault that historians are under the spell of his propaganda.

Sebastian Palmer14 Jan 2019 5:50 a.m. PST

Hi Armand, personally I really enjoyed Roberts' Napoleon The Great.

Here in England the dominant narrative on Napoleon has always been very superficial, stereotyped and predominantly negative; the 'Black Legend', 'Little Boney', the 'Corsican Upstart', etc..


As I'm sure you know, Great Britain was Revolutionary and Napoleonic France's most inveterate enemy, bankrolling all the various coalitions in lieu of having large and effective enough armies of her own. So effectively fighting very largely by proxy.

Even Roberts himself held the traditional Boney-phobic view, by his own admission, until writing this book changed his mind.* At the beginning he asks what makes a historical figure great, or 'Great', and he then, quite reasonably and naturally, concludes that by any fairly normal historical standards, Napoleon certainly was Great. And I agree with Roberts more or less entirely.

His book is certainly not a hagiography, as he tempers his open and honest admiration with critical balance. Roberts is a card carrying Conservative, meaning he belongs to a political lineage in England traditionally super-critical of Napoleon. Those few Brits who had originally championed Napoleon, certainly in the early years, were inclined to be Romantics, and more left-leaning. It's taken 200 years for most people in England to even think about starting to try to evaluate Napoleon impartially.

On that note, I'm keen to read Zamoyski's new tome on Napoleon. I've read several of his other books, and they've all been excellent. But I've also heard some accuse him, re his 'noble' Polish ancestry, of being less than impartial.

There was an 'Intelligence Squared' debate, chaired by Jeremy Paxman, some years ago, on exactly this theme, with Roberts (his book being fresh off the press) giving the 'pro' Napoleon argument, and Zamoyski taking the 'anti' position. You can watch that here:

https://youtu.be/bxQ4TcTcPbI

It's interesting that Roberts' position on Napoleon has clearly evolved and changed. Has Zamoyski's? I'm interested to read his new book and find out. In science the ability to admit you're mistaken and change your position on the basis of the data is very definitely the right modus operandi. In cultural debate it's often regarded as a sign of weakness. Is history really so much more subjective?

* In his book on Hitler's and Churchill's leadership styles Roberts talks of 'otherwise enlightened' people being seduced by the myth of Bonaparte.

Gazzola14 Jan 2019 9:12 a.m. PST

I don't know if it is me but I get a sort of feeling that VW might not like Napoleon? LOL

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP14 Jan 2019 11:09 a.m. PST

Thanks Sebastian!….

Amicalement
Armand

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP14 Jan 2019 11:21 a.m. PST

My good friend Gazzola… I know… that deeply… deeply… but deeply in his hart…. VW loves Napoleon… (smile)


Amicalement
Armand

MaggieC7014 Jan 2019 2:58 p.m. PST

Napoleon meets my most important criterion: he is never boring.

dibble Supporting Member of TMP14 Jan 2019 5:22 p.m. PST

MaggieC70:

Napoleon meets my most important criterion: he is never boring

Yup! Just as well he came along because history would be less interesting without him.

Sebastian Palmer:

As I'm sure you know, Great Britain was Revolutionary and Napoleonic France's most inveterate enemy, bankrolling all the various coalitions in lieu of having large and effective enough armies of her own. So effectively fighting very largely by proxy.

So did Napoleon have allies? Did he rely on a volunteer army? Was the British army 'effective' considering it projected its power around the world, capturing islands from the French. Sending two totally defeated French armies home in British ships. Campaigned against the French in land combat for longer than any other European army. Was almost always successful in the major battles when both armies met on the field. Helped her allies against the French which would end by its total destruction and one of the worst defeats (in 9 hours) of a French army in its history.

Who paid for the confederation troops to be deployed? Who paid for the Prusssian, Swiss, Italian, Dutch/Belgian, Austrian etc, troops when they were allied to the French?

How much did Russia, Austria and Prussia pay back to Britain after the wars?

Roberts is just another Napoleon fawner. There are plenty more British people out there who are fawners of other great tyrants of history as well as Napoleon, so nothing unusual there excepting they all seem to have a Susie Sietz, unhealthy hero worship type of fixation.

Roberts is a card carrying Conservative, meaning he belongs to a political lineage in England traditionally super-critical of Napoleon

He is the same product of most British Tories these days who have been educated by a Lefty-Liberal education system of the 60's and 70's which is showing it's (the conservatives) rather left of centre credentials that we see these days.

Mind you! Going back even further we have Oswald Mosley as an example of an 'enlightened' fawner of a tyrant, and he was both a labour and Conservative MP. A political affiliation does not preclude ones sycophancy or hero worship

von Winterfeldt16 Jan 2019 4:19 a.m. PST

I know… that deeply… deeply… but deeply in his hart…. VW loves Napoleon… (smile)

Of course – I love how he still manipulates successfully with his propaganda and lies a lot of people, I pity those who have to used him in religious fashion.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP16 Jan 2019 11:11 a.m. PST

If Napoleon were a nice girl… at the end of so many "battles"… you probably married her mein Kamerad…. (smile)


Amicalement
Armand

Brechtel19821 Jan 2019 10:17 a.m. PST

Shall we start with remaking the laws of France? I'll rate that one for a half-truth. The re-write was already being done when he seized power and his contribution was a raft of restrictions on women his hagiographers don't talk about much. (Maggie can elaborate.) But if someone had had the common decency to shoot him for his coup, France would still have had an updated version of the Corpus Juris Civilis. The Code Moreau perhaps? (And should we talk about just how binding the code was on His Imperial Majesty?)
Ending corruption and incompetence? Shall we discuss the profits made from selective enforcement of the Berlin and Milan decrees? Talk to Sam Mustafa about actually stealing from the poor boxes of churches like some third-rate bandit. "Lie" is the right word, and I'd use a stronger one if I had one handy.
Seizing the throne of Spain for his brother was somehow a plan to defeat Great Britain? In what alternate universe? Going with "lie" again. (And please note his complete inability to recognize the scale of the blunder: it's one of the hallmarks of absolute monarchs.)
"One of the most extraordinary of all human lives." Maybe. By what standard? Cold truth is, he's neither the first not the last general or politician to profit from the fall of a dynasty, and next to some of the others, he was born an aristocrat. I couldn't fit all the commoners or petty nobility who seized power in a coup in my house: they'd have to come in shifts. But then I'm generally unimpressed by the seizure of power.
I'll give you reinvention of warfare as neither a lie nor a half-truth, but I'm pretty sure anyone here who's worked the 18th Century can argue the contrary. And I'll abstain on education and administration. I simply don't know enough.
They all show up here, you know--the more militant absolute monarchs with a run of victories and body counts in the hundreds of thousands of millions--Genghiz Khan, Hitler, Mao, Tamurlane, Stalin…It always intrigues me that Napoleon and only Napoleon still has a cheering section.


More hyperbole and revisionism of the worst type. Perhaps you could list some source material, either primary or credible secondary, to support what you have posted?

To help you along, here is a list of Napoleon's accomplishments as French head of state (First Consul and Emperor):


-Introduced the Civil Code, followed by other legal codes such as a new Penal Code.
-Restored the Church.
-Completely revamped French public and private education. Napoleon spent more money on education than on any other civil function.
-Built roads, canals, harbors, bridges, and drained swamps.
-Established orphanges and hospitals, and public sanitation.
-Established a Paris fire department.
-Established the prefect system.
-Reformed the National, later Imperial, Gendarmerie.
-Guaranteed basic civil rights.
-Guaranteed freedom of religion.
-Granted Jews full citizenship.
-Introduced gas lighting.
-Introduced the smallpox vaccine to the European continent.
-Abolished feudalism within the Empire.
-Trees were planted along France's roads.
-Established a government office to protect France's forests, lakes and rivers.
-Established better water and sewer systems for Paris.
-Balanced his budgets and established a sound financial system.
-Because of his insistence on public finance, the franc became the most stable currency in Europe.
-Encouraged and sponsored improvements in agriculture.
-Insisted on honesty in his officials and established an agency to ensure that occurred.
-Was a patron of the arts.
-Established the Legion of Honor, open to all both civil and military.
-Established France's first bureau of statistics.
-Reestablished horse-breeding in France.
-Improved French industry.
-Brought full employment, stable prices, and an improved balance of trade.
-Law and order was reestablished in France after the chaos of the Revolution.

Sources are available by request.

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