"Men and nations fail by the same powers as those by which they rise." Discuss with reference to Napoleon by Hilaire Belloc.

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Belloc's premise is that Napoleon fell because of the same types of qualities that allowed him to rise to power. Napoleon was critical in putting an end to some of the disorder and disunion that characterized France during the French Revolution. Belloc regards Napoleon as a semi-mythical figure and one of greatness. However, he writes that Napoleon had some failings that also came out of his desire for greatness. He was, given his overwhelming ambition, not fully cognizant that Spain and Russia posed a threat to his military power, and these countries would cause his fall. The overwhelming ambition and confidence that drove him to power also made him at times unrealistic about the threats against him. Therefore, what drove him and France to power would also prove his undoing and that of his country.

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I haven't read Belloc's book, but since no one else is answering, let me try to help based on what I know of Napoleon.

The quote you cite basically says that the same drives and qualities that make men great also make them vulnerable to failure -- what makes them great also undermines them.

Napoleon's greatness and his fall seem to me to come from his daring and arrogance.  Both of these led him to do things that others would not have attempted.  Early on, that allowed him to rule France and conquer much of Europe.  But then those same impulses made him overreach and invade Russia.  This led to his fall.

So, Napoleon was driven to the top by the same qualities that made him make a fatal mistake.

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