In this second volume of Philip Dwyer’s authoritative biography on one of history’s most enthralling leaders, Napoleon, now 30, takes his position as head of the French state after the 1799 coup. Dwyer explores the young leader’s reign, complete with mistakes, wrong turns, and pitfalls, and reveals the great lengths to which Napoleon goes in the effort to fashion his image as legitimate and patriarchal ruler of the new nation. Concealing his defeats, exaggerating his victories, never hesitating to blame others for his own failings, Napoleon is ruthless in his ambition for power.
Following Napoleon from Paris to his successful campaigns in Italy and Austria, to the disastrous invasion of Russia, and finally to the war against the Sixth Coalition that would end his reign in Europe, the book looks not only at these events but at the character of the man behind them. Dwyer reveals Napoleon’s darker sides—his brooding obsessions and propensity for violence—as well as his passionate nature: his loves, his ability to inspire, and his capacity for realizing his visionary ideas. In an insightful analysis of Napoleon as one of the first truly modern politicians, the author discusses how the persuasive and forward-thinking leader skillfully fashioned the image of himself that persists in legends that surround him to this day.