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Napoleon: Life, Legacy, and Image: A Biography
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Napoleon: Life, Legacy, and Image: A Biography

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  225 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
From Alan Forrest, a preeminent British scholar, comes an exceedingly readable account of the man and his legend  On a cold December day in 1840 Parisians turned out in force to watch as the body of Napoleon was solemnly carried on a riverboat from Courbevoie on its final journey to the Invalides. The return of their long-dead emperor’s corpse from the island of St. Helena ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published December 11th 2012 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2011)
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Christopher Fox
This is a good, readable survey of this monumental figure but it only rates 3 stars for two personal reasons.

1. There's no doubt about the research or accuracy of this biography but I prefer a more fully rounded portrait. Here, I have excellent history without getting any real appreciation of Napoleon as a person, the inner man behind all the exploits.

2. There are historians who present their craft in an accessible way (as Forrest does here) and then there are historians who, in addition to thei
Jud Barry
Napoleon as spin doctor. Even as a young general he developed a sympathetic network of writers and publications to whom he provided copy; as a powerful emperor he imposed press controls and censorship; his memoirs were written with a view to securing his legacy as the one who secured the accomplishments of the French Revolution.

This is a balanced book--Napoleon-haters get their say, as do those like Lazare Carnot, the Revolution's "organizer of victory," who backed out of politics when Napoleon'
Khoa Dang
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well-written story highlighting the key milestones in Napoleon's life, from his Corsican upbringing, his career as a brilliant post-revolutionary general, his later attainment of absolute power and creation of the First French Empire to his downfall and death in exile.
What makes this a worthy read to me is Alan's ability to describe the life of the historical figure in vivid colors against the backdrop of history. We can see how Napoleon learned to navigate through the tumultuous and t
Apr 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As the subtitle states, author Alan Forrest tells the story of Napoleon with emphasis on his legacy and image. He shows how from the very beginning, Napoleon was a master propagandist. He created his own image through flourish, dash and good press which he initiated and controlled and bad press which he vigorously suppressed.

Carlo Bonaparte, a somewhat connected lawyer in the turbulent politics of Corsica, saw to it that his son Napoleon, had good military education. While in school Napoleon rea
Marcia Van Camp
For many years I have wanted to read a book about Napoleon because so many other books I read referenced him. Whether they were about the time of his reign or the affects of it, Napoleon certainly made his mark. I don't think this was the best book on Napoleon, but I had to start somewhere. The author tends to repeat himself a lot, and I wish there had been some maps included.

There were many interesting things in the book, and here are just a few highlights.

Napoleon was originally from Corsica,
Jan 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book starts off giving you an idea of how important Napoleon was as a symbol and how even the idea of Napoleon was something to feared. However the author could have easily done this in about 200 pages instead of the repetitive nature in which there were times a would go back to see if he had verbatim copied a sentence he used pages earier. While this was an interesting read, it dragged on in parts where it didn't need to.
Jul 07, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The general that is spoken like a legend could not have been portrayed more akin to a boring tax accountant than a leader.
May 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book took me a long time to read as I have dipped in and out for a while. It is quite a dry history of Napoleon but it is well written and researched.
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written and gives a great deal of info I didn't know before.
Aug 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Comprehensive but lacking in depth. Rushed at times, slow at others.
Melania Marianu
Altough it did satisfy my curiosity about Napoleon Bonaparte, i feel that it went trough many aspects of his life and history itself barely scratching the surface, insisting on Napoleon's use of propaganda in creating the "Napoleonian myth", and couldn't offer a substantial analysis of his personality or his actions.
Daniel Wright
Napoleon was probably never a happy man. He may have had, all too briefly, a happy childhood, growing up in Corsica, surrounded by an extended family in a culture that had only recently grown out of feudal vendettas. But he went to school in France, and there he was alienated for his strong accent and imperfect French. This may have been why he started out as a liberal revolutionary and a Corsican nationalist after the mould of Pasquale Paoli, in contrast to the cynical dictator he would become. ...more
Maarten Mathijssen
Can you write a biography of a man like Napoleon in something more then 300 pages? I think Alan Forrest succeeded well in this. Althoug Forrest has a background as a militairy historian, the book doesn't elaborate in too detailed information regarding the many battlefields. The question asked many times: was Napoleon the culmination or the end of the French Revolution? A revolution which derailed quickly into terror (as most revolutions). During this time of Terror the young Napoleon positioned ...more
Reet Champion
Apr 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an intriguing read! I've read a little about Napoleon Bonaparte in the past. None of it was overly flattering (and with good reason). Alan Forrest, however, has painted a picture of Napoleon's personality and character which I found very interesting. Forrest gives readers a peek into the personality of this historical figure, including the good and the bad. While I do not admire Napoleon I still classify him as interesting. This is more an examination of the Emperor's character; and that wa ...more
Daniel Kukwa
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
It's less of a biography and far more of a biographical character study and personal deconstruction. However, if that sounds daunting or dull, have no fear: this is a very smooth, very straightforward read that leaves the reader deeply contemplating the many facets of Bonaparate's personality and self-mythologizing. It makes for a very satisfying addition to my historical library.
Feb 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Fairly easy to follow and the chapters focus less along a timeline. They are more like mini timelines about different phases of his life and roles he played. The exiles are more interesting to me than the rest and the history of France afterward. The battles and political maneuvering are slightly too tedious for me. But overall a good modern account.
Jul 31, 2013 rated it liked it
I liked this biography though I've read a lot on Napoleon and this one falls short of many other books. It is nice, but very brief summary of Napoleon. Covers the Napoleonic Code and relations with the British fairly, well but if you're looking for battles or insights into his personal life you'll be disappointed. By no means definitive, but a pleasant read and nice summation nevertheless.
John Robertson
Fairly solid account of the life of Napoleon, a little sympathetic and slightly biased in his favour, but not for Military enthusiasts as it doesn't go into any depth with regard to his battles or the army, enjoyable though and very easy to read, a good introduction to the man.
Sep 22, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good overview of the life of napoleon and of the. Politics in europa during his reign
Mar 20, 2013 marked it as to-read
Shelves: 2013-new
Mawa Mahima
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for my Napoleon coursework, and it was very helpful in the opinions put forward about Napoleon and his character, as well as how accessible this was.
Jul 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting picture of one of the great historical figures of our civilisation.
Elliot Moore
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Alan Forrest is Emeritus Professor of Modern History at the University of York. He works on modern French history, especially the period of the French Revolution and Empire, and on the history of modern warfare.

He serves on the editorial boards of French History and War in History, and is a member of the advisory committee for Annales historiques de la Revolution Francaise. He also co-edits a ser
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