Any book on Napoleon is welcome, as there are so few studies of him aimed at young adults. Komroff’s work is certainly lively enough to keep the attention of any teenage reader. Unfortunately for the latter, any introductory book on Napoleon will be superficial and sketchy because of Napoleonic France’s involvement with virtually every nation of Europe. Hence, the lack of background knowledge will be a disadvantage in gaining an understanding of Napoleon and the world of his time. This short book hurries over some aspects of Napoleon—the First Consulate reforms, relations with England, military tactics, the period after the defeat in Russia, and the Congress of Vienna—and lingers over others—his campaigns in Egypt, Spain, and Russia, his exile on Elba, and the Hundred Days. The author seems unaware of the apparent contradiction that runs throughout the book: why the “op-pressed” French willingly fought for Napoleon. Komroff’s propensity to describe Napoleon as a ruthless tyrant does no credit to his subject. Yet the author does service to his readers by involving them with this larger-than-life personality.
Students of history should find this account of Napoleon fascinating and informative. Komroff’s study is accurate and well written and could serve as a fine introduction to this period for high-school courses on modern European history.