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This book is great at what it does, but what it does is not what I hoped for.
This is a broad overview of Napoleon, with a particularly detailed examination of his part in the wars that dominated Europe during the early 19th century.
What it is not, disappointingly, is a narrative of the battles themselves.
I had presumed, given the book's title and length, was that I was buying a detailed examination of napoleonic battlefield strategy and tactics. While I have only made it 1/3 through this work, I can confidently state that there is none of this.
Instead, we hear a lot of "and then Napoleon defeated the Austrians at this spot, then they formed an alliance and defeated the Germans at that spot, etc etc."
I should also point out that this book presumes a fairly extensive understanding of European geography (particularly historic geography) on the part of the reader. Without a map of current and past geographic features as a companion, this work quickly becomes inaccessible.
24 of 26 people found this review helpful
This well-narrated and well-written book is giving me the background I need to teach a history-and-literature series on the aftermath of the American Revolution in Europe. The narrative has helped me begin to understand the confusing complexities of the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. Prior to this book, we read aloud and studied Unlikely Allies, The Great Upheaval, and of course Tale of Two Cities. In conjunction with it we are studying The War for All the Oceans (by Adkins) and Tolstoy's War and Peace (the latter using Audible's audiobook also). In addition, the Sharpe series by Cornwell is providing some additional relaxed level historical fiction as we read through those in order. Esdaile's narration is a pleasure to listen to. (I have a hard copy of the book but am a bit too busy now to sit down with it much, so the audio keeps me going; I drop in post-it notes at the parts I want to relate to my high schooler.) (By the way, I'm a veteran home school mother and a retired physician. All my children have loved history taught using this approach.)
5 of 5 people found this review helpful