The book presents no reinterpretation of Napoleon’s motives or any aspect of his rulership. Komroff writes clearly and directly, and the narrative moves quickly and dramatically, with few dates to slow down the tale. Napoleon is portrayed as a tragic hero, destined to fall because of his pride and ambition. Komroff makes Napoleon out to be a tyrant who brutalized France, and indeed most of Europe, simply because he wanted to impose his will on the maximum number of people.
Napoleon revolves around a series of military campaigns: Egypt, northern Italy, Austria and Prussia, Spain, and Russia. Priority is given to the French quagmire in Spain and Napoleon’s relationship with Czar Alexander. Napoleon eventually turned against the czar because of the latter’s ambitions in Poland and the Ottoman Empire. Because the book contains no maps or battle diagrams, the unfolding of the major military encounters is not always clear. Even Napoleon’s administrative, educational, judicial, and economic reforms are interpreted as cynical ploys to gain popularity.
Strangely, Komroff gives little attention to England and the Continental System. The important place England had after 1805 is unknowledged, except for the military assistance that England gave to Spain following Napoleon’s intervention in 1808. The Continental System of 18061812 would help to explain many of Napoleon’s diffi-culties with Spain, Prussia, and Russia. Indeed,...
(The entire section is 591 words.)