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Publisher's Summary

Napoleon Bonaparte lived one of the most extraordinary of all human lives. In the space of just 20 years, from October 1795, when as a young artillery captain he cleared the streets of Paris of insurrectionists, to his final defeat at the (horribly mismanaged) battle of Waterloo in June 1815, Napoleon transformed France and Europe.

After seizing power in a coup d'état, he ended the corruption and incompetence into which the revolution had descended. In a series of dazzling battles, he reinvented the art of warfare; in peace he completely remade the laws of France, modernised her systems of education and administration, and presided over a flourishing of the beautiful Empire style in the arts.

The impossibility of defeating his most persistent enemy, Great Britain, led him to make draining and ultimately fatal expeditions into Spain and Russia, where half a million Frenchmen died, and his empire began to unravel.

More than any other modern biographer, Andrew Roberts conveys Napoleon's tremendous energy, both physical and intellectual, and the attractiveness of his personality even to his enemies. He has walked 53 of Napoleon's 60 battlefields and has absorbed the gigantic new French edition of Napoleon's letters, which allows a complete reevaluation of this exceptional man.

He overturns many received opinions, including the myth of a great romance with Josephine: She took a lover immediately after their marriage, and, as Roberts shows, he had three times as many mistresses as he acknowledged.

Of the climactic Battle of Leipzig in 1813, as the fighting closed around them, a French sergeant major wrote, "No-one who has not experienced it can have any idea of the enthusiasm that burst forth among the half-starved, exhausted soldiers when the Emperor was there in person. If all were demoralised and he appeared, his presence was like an electric shock. All shouted 'Vive l'Empereur!' and everyone charged blindly into the fire."

Andrew Roberts is a biographer and historian of international renown whose books include Salisbury: Victorian Titan (winner, the Wolfson Prize for History); Masters and Commanders; and The Storm of War, which reached number two on the Sunday Times best seller list. Roberts is a fellow of the Royal Societies of Literature and Arts. He appears regularly on British television and radio and writes for the Sunday Telegraph, Spectator, Literary Review, Mail on Sunday and Daily Telegraph.

©2014 Andrew Roberts (P)2015 Audible, Ltd

What the critics say

"Roberts...writes with great vigour, style and fluency." (Dominic Sandbrook, The Sunday Times)
"Magisterial and beautifully written.... A richly detailed and sure-footed reappraisal of the man, his achievements--and failures--and the extraordinary times in which he lived." (Jeremy Jennings, Standpoint)
"Roberts tells his story with vigour and aplomb. And even critics of the emperor will recognize that there is much new information in Roberts’s 814 pages, while the frequent complaint that is made of a tendency among authors to foreshorten the military narrative is not suitable here." (Charles Esdaile, Literary Review)

What listeners say about Napoleon the Great

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Bad pronunciations

Odd choice to have a narrator whose French pronunciations are really weak, despite his German seeming excellent. A bit dry as well, in terms of intonation. Book is for Napoleon enthusiasts, rather than mildly interested amateurs.

5 people found this helpful

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Absolutely Riveting

Couldn’t put the book down. Wasn’t a single boring part.
Incredibly interesting man, and a well written biography.

1 person found this helpful

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Bad history and okay reading

Ura ura! - does not mean plunder. Many such nonsensical small errors in this book. I get it, this is a popular history and not academic level but the text is far too much a shameless praise of Napoleon to have any value. Historical writing is nothing if it reads like a list of battles and supposedly great achievements without any critical evaluation. This is one of those books that read like teenage fanboy praise of superhero. Quite disturbing at times.

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He Came, He Saw, He Conquered

I enjoyed this book immensely. If you’re interested in history, this is a must read

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Great narrative but biased

This is a great history of Napoleon and the narration is excellent. However the author is very biased towards Napoleon himself, glossing over or excusing his failures and trumpeting his successes.

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Excellent Work

This should be standard listening for all. Very good presentation and it really holds your interest all the way through. Nothing boring here, you will learn alot you never knew!

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Lots of insight!

Well told with tons of info on battles, historical figures, and reason. Worst noting that this is more than just one perspective.

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A Great Summary

I knew of Napolean and some general points regarding his life, but not much. This book is a great introduction to the man. What a life!

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An incredible life

The story of the incredible life of Emperor Napoleon is well told here with excellent story telling and an attention to the details of his life. The only complaint is that it can be a challenge to remember some of the many names that come up often during the book. But that is just the drawback of an audiobook. It is an excellent audiobook for those with an interest in Napoleon and history fans more generally.

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Well worth the listen

It's a fantastic book about Napoleon and specifically addresses Napoleon's unenlightened choice to reimpose slavery in Haiti via the Leclerc Expedition.

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  • Annette
  • 2015-05-12

An In-Depth Account that Humanizes Bonaparte

This book makes no claim to be anything but a defence of Napoleon Bonaparte as someone deserving the title "Great." While never failing to highlight Napoleon's mistakes or weaknesses, the author certainly does make the case for his greatness. He does so with loads of factual information, including many telling and surprising comments from Bonaparte himself taken from some of his thousands of letters.

Roberts' biography serves to dispel the various, often inane historical caricatures of Bonaparte and draws the listener into appreciating the compelling, enigmatic nature of a brilliant man with unsurpassable charm, energy, leadership skills, strategic vision, a ridiculous attention to details, a manic desire for knowledge, and of course a longing to rule and mould society.

My main criticism of the book is that the author continually introduces new characters of which there are many, often with only a fleeting description, and then refers to said characters over and over again without ever referencing his original description; this left me almost continually uncertain of the identity of many individuals whom the author referred to, particularly pertaining to those in the military and government. More frustratingly, I often didn't even know which countries these men represented. Perhaps this is one "flaw" that is made less evident by reading the book instead of listening to it.

Still very much worth the read. I learned a great deal about the main character, and about French and European history that I was previously unaware of.

1 person found this helpful