Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Napoleon: The Decline and Fall of an Empire: 1811-1821 (Michael Broers)

In a few short years, a man that had fought for France’s legitimacy on Europe’s stage and then the rest of Europe to stand shoulder to shoulder with England as one of the premier global powers of the time, lost his global standing and title as Emperor of the French and spent his last days in secluded exile in a remote part of the Atlantic Ocean. Napoleon’s rise was as sudden and dramatic as his downfall, and Michael Broers captures the final ten years of Napoleon’s life in the well-researched Napoleon: The Decline and Fall of an Empire: 1811-1821.

Broers, who has written two other books on Napoleon, starts by covering the run-up to Napoleon’s march on Russia and subsequent retreat, the loss of his title after an invasion of France by Russia and her allies in 1814, and Napoleon’s subsequent exile to Elba. From there, Napoleon’s escape and attempts to rebuild his army and his empire are beautifully detailed by as we see how Napoleon worked himself to the point of exhaustion before the infamous battle at Waterloo. The former Emperor was then exiled to a remote island in the South Atlantic to spend his last days in gradually worsening health.

Napoleon covers the battles fought by the book’s namesake in great detail, including personal correspondence from the Emperor to his supporters and French military leaders throughout his final years in charge of France. For historians who study and read up on Napoleon, this book is a great addition given the inclusion of Napoleon’s personal correspondence.