While admitting competition with the endless chain of books on his subject, the biographer presents this new one as designed to give the man in his own words, through his correspondence to a great degree. This permits of inclusion of Napoleon's own contradictory reports- one thing in a personal letter, quite another in an official communication, and Thompson presents both, with objectivity and precision of comment. The personal background is etched in from youth in Corsica to the exile and death, but the focus is chiefly on the military history, as -- in disciplined style- the reader follows its path of conquest. Specific conclusions are drawn from the facts. The author cites Napoleon's handling of Egypt as the original inspiration of the French Colonial policy; he ventures the conclusion that the great monument to the conqueror-emperor is not the Arc de Triomphe, but the fitting of the republican ideals of the French Revolution into laws compatible with monarchical traditions. This is a biography more of the external than the internal man, comprehensive in coverage, thoughtful in content. As author of an important book on the French Revolution, Thompson's name carries weight in scholarly circles.