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Napoleon: The Man Behind the Myth Reviews

Napoleon: The Man Behind the Myth by Adam Zamoyski

Napoleon: The Man Behind the Myth

Adam Zamoyski

4.38 out of 5

4 reviews

Imprint: William Collins
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 18 Oct 2018
ISBN: 9780008116071

`Napoleon is an out-and-out masterpiece and a joy to read' Sir Antony Beevor, author of Stalingrad A landmark new biography that presents the man behind the many myths. The first writer in English to go back to the original European sources, Adam Zamoyski's portrait of Napoleon is historical biography at its finest.

  • The TimesBook of the Year
4 stars out of 5
Gerard DeGroot
1 Dec 2018

"authoritative and robust"

At last, a book that questions the genius of Napoleon Bonaparte. Historians have been too kind to the commander who presided over the worst military disaster in history — the relentless string of defeats from Moscow to Waterloo. In this authoritative and robust biography Adam Zamoyski shows how Napoleon’s genius was the creation of his own propaganda machine. He had some impressive victories at the start of his career, but then he started to believe his own hype.


5 stars out of 5
6 Jan 2019

"elegantly written, exhaustively researched and compellingly argued "

...Zamoyski uses many new first-hand sources to flesh out the detail of Napoleon’s largely happy childhood in Ajaccio, where his boldness, aggression and quarrelsome nature set him apart from his brothers... The real value of this wonderful biography – elegantly written, exhaustively researched and compellingly argued – is the insight it gives us into Napoleon the Man. He was, concludes Zamoyski, neither a monster nor a saint. Instead, his motives “were on the whole praiseworthy” and his ambition “no greater than his contemporaries”. What made that ambition “so exceptional was the scope it was accorded by circumstance”.

5 stars out of 5
1 Dec 2018

" a vivid and convincing picture of Napoleone di Buonaparte before he became Napoleon Bonaparte"

Adam Zamoyski sets himself a different task: to peel back the layers of myth that have formed around the emperor and reveal the man beneath. He succeeds impressively in this remarkable book... Zamoyski’s first achievement is to present a vivid and convincing picture of Napoleone di Buonaparte before he became Napoleon Bonaparte... 

4 stars out of 5
3 Nov 2018

"Adam Zamoyski scrapes away layers of lies and exaggeration to reveal Bonaparte in his true, unvarnished colours"

The refreshing distinction of Zamoyski as a biographer is that he humanises Bonaparte — in contrast to others who either hero-worship ‘Napoleon the Great’ (the title of Roberts’s recent adoring life of the emperor) or damn the Corsican usurper as a war-mongering mountebank who devastated Europe and slaughtered millions for the sake of his ego. In portraying the person behind the many myths that have accrued around his name, Zamoyski acts as a skilful picture-restorer, scraping away layers of lies, exaggerations and misconceptions to reveal the man in his true, unvarnished colours.