Napoleon : His Wives and Women

3.75 (154 ratings by Goodreads)
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A masterly biography of Napoleon, concentrating on his private life, by the historian described by Stella Tillyard as 'a master portraitist of great men's private lives' and by Amanda Foreman as 'one of England's greatest living historical writers'. Modern history has produced one single myth on a heroic scale to rival those of Alexander and Caesar - that of Napoleon. The continuing fascination of this astonishingly gifted man is reflected in the number of books published each year on various aspects of the Napoleonic legend: some 250,000 volumes in all since Napoleon's mysterious death in 1821. What is still needed is now provided by Christopher Hibbert: an authoritative up-to-date account of Napoleon's private life at all stages of his developing and extraordinary career, based on the fruits of modern research, his character, interests and tastes, his friendships, enmities and love affairs, his relations with the members of his remarkable family, the impressions he made on his contemporaries away from the council chamber and the battlefield, his personal life at war, in exile and as emperor in peacetime, the mystery surrounding his death: in short, the man revealed behind the soldier, statesman and more

Product details

  • Paperback | 448 pages
  • 128 x 194 x 24mm | 240.41g
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 16 b/w, 16 col plates
  • 0006531466
  • 9780006531463
  • 1,043,671

About Christopher Hibbert

Described by Professor Sir John Plumb as a 'writer of the highest ability' & by the New Statesman as 'a pearl of biographers', Christopher Hibbert is our leading popular historian whose works reflect meticulous scholarship. His books also include THE DeSTRUCTION OF LORD RAGLAN, THE COURT AT WINDSOR, LONDON and ROME, THE RISE AND FALL OF THE HOUSE OF MEDICI etc. His biography of QUEEN VICTORIA will be published in autumn 2000 (HC).show more

Review Text

Having already written 'personal histories' of Nelson and Wellington, Christopher Hibbert now focuses his critical attention on the private life of their mutual enemy. Napoleon was, according to Hibbert, not just an empire-builder, but a misogynist, who treated the women of his court like chattel, pinching their cheeks and noses, complaining to their faces how ugly or ill-dressed they were, remarking to one that he had heard she was 'quick and good in bed'. From his wives he would brook no complaint about his extra-marital activities. 'I am not like other men,' he said. 'The commonly accepted rules of morality and propriety do not apply to me.' Boney may at last take centre stage in a Hibbert biography, but he has to share it with many strong-willed women: his mother Letizia, whom he described as 'both strict and tender'; his three sisters - decisive, determined Caroline, beautiful, sensual Pauline, plain but bossy Elisa - and the two very different women he married - the charming and wildly extravagant Josephine, who came from Martinique, and had suffered imprisonment during the revolutionary Terror, and Marie-Louise, the Austrian Emperor's daughter, who gave birth to his hapless heir, Napoleon II. There were, in addition, many mistresses, four of whom bore him children. To Napoleon, women were 'mere machines for making children'. And for making love. 'A plain mistress', he said, 'is a monstrosity. She would fail in her principal, indeed in her only duty.' Few women dared to fail Napoleon. Nor has Hibbert, for this is an immensely absorbing and readable work, one that illuminates a neglected side of Napoleon's character. Not without reason does A N Wilson call Hibbert 'our outstanding popular historian'. (Kirkus UK)show more

Rating details

154 ratings
3.75 out of 5 stars
5 22% (34)
4 43% (66)
3 25% (38)
2 9% (14)
1 1% (2)
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