NAPOLEON: MASTER OF EUROPE 1805-1807 by Alistair Horne


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If ever a military genius' battles have been fought to a conclusion it is Napoleon's--for a century and a half, armchair strategists have replayed the Emperor's great masterpieces of Austerlitz and Jena and dissected every move (Napoleon always wins). Why, then, another scouring of this oft-trod turf? Home, author of J Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962, among others, has no particularly good reason save that Napoleon's reputation may need a little shining up and military history is exciting stuff. As he admits, he has no new insights or critical perspective to offer; just a narrative of how Napoleon got to be the master of Europe. As such, the book is more than adequate--Horne vividly recounts the details of battles, but more importantly gives the necessary background on military organization and technique that enables the full scale of Napoleon's achievements to come to light. Horne's only moral is that military victory abstracted from political objectives is inherently unstable, and merely leads on to further battles, as in Napoleon's invasion of Russia and failure to pursue peace. Presumably, there are lessons here for the French and American war-makers of recent vintage, but they might have learned them from experience. For anyone who hasn't been over this before, Home's study is a good place to start; for others, it's a well-drawn map of familiar terrain.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1979
Publisher: Morrow