Phillip Guillory's Reviews > Napoleon's Privates: 2,500 Years of History Unzipped

Napoleon's Privates by Tony Perrottet
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it was ok
bookshelves: 2017

I picked up this book probably 8 years ago on a whim after listening to the author being interviewed on a short-lived podcast called the Bryan Park Project. I loved the idea of the book, though for whatever reason (I'll blame grad school) I didn't get around to reading it til now.

This book was a mixed bag for me. I really enjoyed the history itself, but the writing left a lot to be desired. It felt like quick jabs and "wit" were more important to the author than exploring topics more earnestly. Honestly, some of the text was so filled with euphemism that it wasn't actually clear *what* actually was being referenced. The language was surprisingly gendered (many women in the text were described as either "lovely" or "plain"...), and there's even an eyeroll-worthy chapter called "Alexander the Great Fairy?". It's strange that a book whose goal seems to be to speak candidly about things that are glossed over historically would go for such cheap shots. I feel like this was a missed opportunity.

Finally, there just wasn't a great sense of continuity to the book. It jumped from one topic to the next erratically, with no real rhyme or reason. It would have been nice to perhaps organize the text even loosely chronologically, or even by region. I realize that the idea behind this is have little tidbits of history, and appreciated how well-sourced the material is, but without a real frame of reference, the reader is left without much reference to build on from one chapter to the next.

In going for the simple thumbs up/thumbs down style review, this one gets a thumbs down. It had good elements, but ultimately I wanted to like it more than I actually did.

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Reading Progress

July 8, 2017 – Started Reading
July 8, 2017 – Shelved
August 4, 2017 – Shelved as: 2017
August 4, 2017 – Finished Reading

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