NAPOLEON BONAPARTE: An Intimate Biography by Vincent Cronin

NAPOLEON BONAPARTE: An Intimate Biography

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The fascination with Napoleonic lore, anecdotes and memorabilia seems to be insatiable as Vincent Cronin's more mawkish than ""intimate"" biography demonstrates. Saturated with details of the Emperor's toilette, dinner table -- ""Napoleon always drank inexpensively red Burgundy with his meals, even with chicken"" -- musical and literary tastes and -- once more with feeling -- that torrid, incomparable love for Josephine, the book extols the simple, stalwart, just-plain-folks Corsican beneath the imperial robes. Fine up to a point, but Cronin's chatty glitter is seriously flawed by uncritical adoration of his hero. Napoleon's most serious blunders (e.g., the Spanish invasion) are passed off as acts of quixotic benificence and invariably war is forced on his essentially peace-loving soul -- England for example is held solely responsible for the resumption of war after the Peace of Amiens because ""she was frightened of peace."" Napoleon selflessly assumes the title of Emperor the better to consolidate republicanism, never swerves from the ""principles of the Revolution"" and, most incredibly, ""Napoleon was never personally ambitions."" Cronin draws on some new material for this volume, including the notebooks of Henri Bertrand who shared his exile, the memoirs of his valet (to whom he was a hero), and some letters to Desiree Clary, an early amour. Since all three were under Napoleon's spell, it's not surprising that a halo shimmers above the imperial cockade.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1972
Publisher: Morrow