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Adam Zamoyski's Napoleon: A Life

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  • Adam Zamoyski's Napoleon: A Life


    This volume arrived this week and while I haven't finished it yet there is some interesting comments and positions by the author in the book so far.

    First, it is an easy read and is over 700 pages in length.

    Second, the following comments are worthy of note:

    'Until very recently, Anglo-Saxon historians have shown reluctance to allow an understanding of the spirit of the times to help them see Napoleon as anything other than an alien monster. Rival national mythologies have added layers of prejudice which many find hard to overcome.'-xiv.

    'Napoleon did not start the war that broke out in 1792 when he was a mere lieutenant and continued, with one brief interruption, until 1814. Which side was responsible for the outbreak and for the continuing hostilities is fruitlessly debatable, since responsibility cannot be laid squarely on one side or the other. The fighting cost lives, for which responsibility is often heaped on Napoleon, which is absurd, as all the belligerents must share the blame. And he was not as profligate with the lives of his own soldiers as some.'-xv.

    'In the half-century before Napoleon came to power, a titanic struggle for dominion saw the British acquire Canada, large swaths of India, and a string of colonies and aspire to lay down the law at sea; Austria grab provinces in Italy and Poland; Prussia increase in size by two-thirds; and Russia push her frontier 600 kilometers into Europe and occupy large areas of Central Asia, Siberia, and Alaska, laying claims as far afield as California. Yet George III, Maria-Theresa, Frederick William III, and Catherine II are not generally accused of being megalomaniac monsters and compulsive warmongers.'

    'Napoleon is frequently condemned for his invasion of Egypt, while the British occupation which followed, designed to guarantee colonial monopoly over India, is not. He is regularly blamed for re-establishing slavery in Martinique, while Britain applied it in its colonies for a further thirty years, and every other colonial power for several decades after that. His use of police surveillance and censorship is also regularly reproved, even though every other state in Europe emulated him, with varying degrees of discretion or hypocrisy.

    Interesting comments and conclusions regarding Napoleon and the period in general, don't you think?
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
    Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
    To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Massena View Post
    Interesting comments and conclusions regarding Napoleon and the period in general, don't you think?
    Not really.

    "T
    he fighting cost lives, for which responsibility is often heaped on Napoleon, which is absurd, as all the belligerents must share the blame. And he was not as profligate with the lives of his own soldiers as some"

    So a state or nation defending itself against Napoleon attacking them is as guilty in the loss of lives as the aggressor?

    "Napoleon is frequently condemned for his invasion of Egypt"
    He is? I can't remember any especial condemnation of Napoleon for his invasion of Egypt. Some scorn for his running away and leaving his troops but he did that a few times

    If that is the general tone of the book I imagine it will be one you and many others will enjoy immensely. Others, meh, not so much.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Gooner View Post
      "T


      So a state or nation defending itself against Napoleon attacking them is as guilty in the loss of lives as the aggressor?
      [/SIZE]
      As Napoleon was not the aggressor in 1805, 1806, 1807, and 1809 your comment is at the very least inaccurate. Austria, financed by Great Britain, was the aggressor in 1805. Prussia began the war of 1806. Russia was complicit in the wars of 1805, 1806, and 1807 and Austria attacked Bavaria in 1809.

      If you would like to discuss the wars of 1812, 1813, 1814, and 1815 as well as the war in Spain and Portugal from 1807-1814 we can do that also.

      We are not now that strength which in old days
      Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
      Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
      To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Massena View Post

        As Napoleon was not the aggressor in 1805, 1806, 1807, and 1809 your comment is at the very least inaccurate. Austria, financed by Great Britain, was the aggressor in 1805. Prussia began the war of 1806. Russia was complicit in the wars of 1805, 1806, and 1807 and Austria attacked Bavaria in 1809.

        If you would like to discuss the wars of 1812, 1813, 1814, and 1815 as well as the war in Spain and Portugal from 1807-1814 we can do that also.

        Who invades who's countries in those years then?

        Revolutionary France then Napoleonic France seemed to do pretty well by not being the agressor.

        f6955303675be2e83eab235b2206a7a8.jpg

        Comment


        • #5
          366-004-92FDB83A.jpg

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Gooner View Post


            Who invades who's countries in those years then?

            Revolutionary France then Napoleonic France seemed to do pretty well by not being the agressor.

            f6955303675be2e83eab235b2206a7a8.jpg
            Napoleon had the great captain's attribute and getting the first solid hit in during the wars of 1800-1809. He wasn't either slow to take action when war was either coming or he was faced with it and didn't wait for his enemy to hit first and put him at a disadvantage. Austria invaded Bavaria in 1805; Prussia both declared war and attempted to attack first in 1806; Austria invaded Bavaria again in 1809.

            Napoleon won all of the wars from 1800-1809 and the French Empire expanded because of those victories. Prussia, Austria, and Russia lost repeatedly to France up to and including 1809 and paid for those defeats and aggression with both reparations and loss of territory. It never would have happened if those nations had not made war upon France. And it should be noted that the minor German states in western and southern Germany chose France as an ally instead of either Austria or Prussia because those latter two nations wanted to ingest them. Prussia more than proved that in 1814 when half of Saxony was taken by her as well as other chunks of German territory.
            We are not now that strength which in old days
            Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
            Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
            To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Gooner View Post


              Who invades who's countries in those years then?

              Revolutionary France then Napoleonic France seemed to do pretty well by not being the agressor.

              f6955303675be2e83eab235b2206a7a8.jpg


              The US was not the aggressor in WW2 and yet it invaded Germany and Italy and occupied japan. In 1991, the Coalition invaded Iraq and yet it was not the aggressor in that conflict.
              So, it would appear that invasion is not the same thing as being the aggressor.

              Avatar is General Gerard, courtesy of Zouave.

              Churchill to Chamberlain: you had a choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.

              Comment


              • #8
                Well done.

                We are not now that strength which in old days
                Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Massena View Post

                  Napoleon had the great captain's attribute and getting the first solid hit in during the wars of 1800-1809. He wasn't either slow to take action when war was either coming or he was faced with it and didn't wait for his enemy to hit first and put him at a disadvantage. Austria invaded Bavaria in 1805; Prussia both declared war and attempted to attack first in 1806; Austria invaded Bavaria again in 1809.
                  Napoleon can be likened to the swaggering playground bully who provokes and taunts the smaller kids into taking the first swing, then beats them up and steals their lunch money.
                  Sometimes of course Napoleon didn't wait for the small kids to take the first swing but beat them up and stole their lunch money anyway!

                  Napoleon won all of the wars from 1800-1809 and the French Empire expanded because of those victories. Prussia, Austria, and Russia lost repeatedly to France up to and including 1809 And it should be noted that the minor German states in western and southern Germany chose France as an ally ..
                  You think the minor German states didn't make the (mis)calculation that being an ally of France who 'won all the wars' was a better bet than being an opponent?

                  Prussia more than proved that in 1814 when half of Saxony was taken by her as well as other chunks of German territory.
                  Prussia expanded post 1815 in the same way that the Soviet Union did post 1945. In the second case it was the fault of Hitler, in the first Napoleon.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Cambronnne View Post



                    The US was not the aggressor in WW2 and yet it invaded Germany and Italy and occupied japan. In 1991, the Coalition invaded Iraq and yet it was not the aggressor in that conflict.
                    So, it would appear that invasion is not the same thing as being the aggressor.
                    Correct, I would not consider the Austrians, Prussian, Russian, British, Swedish, Wurttermburger and Saxon armies that invaded France in 1814 as the aggressors either!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Gooner View Post

                      Correct, I would not consider the Austrians, Prussian, Russian, British, Swedish, Wurttermburger and Saxon armies that invaded France in 1814 as the aggressors either!
                      So it would appear that you accept that Napoleon was not the aggressor in all of his wars.

                      Well the Saxons and Wurtemburgers were forcibly incorporated into the coalition armies.
                      The Russians certainly were not the aggressors, but everyone else was, save for the Spanish.
                      Napoleon wasn't a threat to Sweden or Austria, they joined in to share in the spoils (Norway and Italy)
                      So, they would have to be considered the aggressors in that invasion.



                      Avatar is General Gerard, courtesy of Zouave.

                      Churchill to Chamberlain: you had a choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Gooner View Post

                        Napoleon can be likened to the swaggering playground bully who provokes and taunts the smaller kids into taking the first swing, then beats them up and steals their lunch money.
                        Sometimes of course Napoleon didn't wait for the small kids to take the first swing but beat them up and stole their lunch money anyway!



                        You think the minor German states didn't make the (mis)calculation that being an ally of France who 'won all the wars' was a better bet than being an opponent?



                        Prussia expanded post 1815 in the same way that the Soviet Union did post 1945. In the second case it was the fault of Hitler, in the first Napoleon.
                        I think Bavaria is a good example of why some of the German states sided with Napoleon.
                        Bavaria feared Austrian invasion more than it feared one by France.
                        Austria was very interested in absorbing parts of Bavaria, Napoleon was not.

                        Bavaria may have ultimately "miscalculated" by siding with the French, but they had some very good reasons for doing so.

                        Napoleon was not unique in seeking to establish dominance over other European nations, he was just substantially better at it than the other major powers.

                        Avatar is General Gerard, courtesy of Zouave.

                        Churchill to Chamberlain: you had a choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Cambronnne View Post

                          I think Bavaria is a good example of why some of the German states sided with Napoleon.
                          Bavaria feared Austrian invasion more than it feared one by France.
                          Austria was very interested in absorbing parts of Bavaria, Napoleon was not.
                          Bavaria may have ultimately "miscalculated" by siding with the French, but they had some very good reasons for doing so.

                          Bavaria was very interested in aborbing parts of Austria however. Austria and Bavaria had history.
                          Ultimately Bavaria calculated very well by switching sides opportunely. Its ruler had become a King from a mere Elector and in 1815 gained substantial land from Napoleons more loyal German allies.


                          Napoleon was not unique in seeking to establish dominance over other European nations, he was just substantially better at it than the other major powers.
                          No one yet had quite his ambition either though. And in the end his dominance extended no further than Longwood House, St. Helena.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Cambronnne View Post

                            So it would appear that you accept that Napoleon was not the aggressor in all of his wars.
                            The whole period 1792-1815 can be considered a war with peace breaking out from time to time.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Gooner View Post

                              The whole period 1792-1815 can be considered a war with peace breaking out from time to time.
                              I would agree with that.

                              Avatar is General Gerard, courtesy of Zouave.

                              Churchill to Chamberlain: you had a choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.

                              Comment

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