Saturday, April 05, 2008

Book Review-Napoleon: The Path to Power


Over the long run, the costs to France and to Europe of Napoleon’s monumental ambition —indeed megalomania — were enormous. The disastrous Russian campaign of 1812 is particularly significant in this respect. It was only a few years ago that remnants of a handful of the soldiers who had had the bad fortune to be with Bonaparte were finally uncovered in Lithuania. Napoleon’s Grand Army lost 370,000 men to death and another 200,000 to Russian captivity. When Bonaparte returned to Paris, a military bulletin cheerfully announced: “The Emperor’s health has never been better.” That was true enough, and Napoleon blithely began to rebuild his armies for the next campaign. Napoleon once said, “A man like me does not give a damn about the lives of a million men.” For a million people, however, the romance of the emperor’s adventures led simply to death.

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