A bombastic title for a low-keyed, high-toned book--the style is heavy, but here its dignity suits the story told. The twenty-year-old Dieudonne is a bravely costumed, well-mounted trumpeter and officer in Napoleon's cavalry; the time is 1812, the grand entry into Russia and the ignominious retreat. Marching along with his memoirs, we see the Russians fall back, hear reports of battles, see Moscow during the occupation, then...the terrible brutal march back. Dieudonne finds a child and her governess among the thousands of French stragglers fleeing behind the army, and having lost his horse protecting them, accompanies them safely to Warsaw. The few fortuitous incidents which prop up the story--inadvertent, minor involvement in the Fouche plot against the Emperor's army--are slight enough not to weaken the experiences we share--the cutting off of gangrened toes, the death of a much loved old man--described with a restraint that gives just the bearable distance. A ponderous but engrossing personalization of war--historical fiction at an adult level emotionally.