Napoleon : A Life

3.59 (792 ratings by Goodreads)

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From New York Times bestselling author Paul Johnson, "a very readable and entertaining biography" (The Washington Post) about one of the most important figures in modern European history: Napoleon Bonaparte In an ideal pairing of author and subject, the magisterial historian Paul Johnson offers a vivid look at the life of the strategist, general, and dictator who conquered much of Europe. Following Napoleon from the barren island of Corsica to his early training in Paris, from his meteoric victories and military dictatorship to his exile and death, Johnson examines the origins of his ferocious ambition. In Napoleon's quest for power, Johnson sees a realist unfettered by patriotism or ideology. And he recognizes Bonaparte's violent legacy in the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. Napoleon is a magnificent work that bears witness to one individual's ability to work his will on history.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 190 pages
  • 129 x 182 x 14mm | 154g
  • Penguin USA
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0143037455
  • 9780143037453
  • 406,856

Table of contents


Chapter One: The Corsican Background

Chapter Two: Revolutionary, General, Consul, Emperor

Chapter Three: The Master of the Battlefield

Chapter Four: The Flawed and Fragile Empire

Chapter Five: The Graveyards of Europe

Chapter Six: Elba and Waterloo

Chapter Seven: The Long Good-bye

Further Reading
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Review quote

Praise for Napoleon by Paul Johnson: "Paul Johnson . . . is a historian at the top his game. His judgments are sure. His historical range is sweeping. His storytelling is crisp and his writing elegant."
--The Baltimore Sun "The selection of the venerable British historian . . . Paul Johnson to write on Napoleon . . . has turned out to be a wise one: Johnson is succinct, critical, and deeply skeptical of the Napoleonic legend."
--The Atlantic Monthly "This is a jewel of a book; comprehensive, brief, and passionate."
--The Economist "Johnson provides an excellent overview . . . [He] presents a concise appraisal of Napoleon's career and a precise understanding of his enigmatic character."
--Booklist "[A] succinct yet lively biography . . . very readable and entertaining."
--The Washington Post
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About Professor Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson's many books, including A History of Christianity, A History of the Jews, Modern Times, Churchill, and Napoleon: A Penguin Life, have been hailed as masterpieces of historical analysis. He is a regular columnist for Forbes and The Spectator, and his work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many others publications. He lives in London.
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Rating details

792 ratings
3.59 out of 5 stars
5 15% (122)
4 41% (322)
3 34% (272)
2 7% (55)
1 3% (21)
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