Two HUNDRED YEARS ago this May, General Bonaparte was proclaimed Emperor of the French. The bicentenary is the first in a succession of anniversaries of - Napoleonic triumphs to fall over the next eight years: the Notre Dame coronation on 2 December; 'the sun of Austerlitz', twelve months later to the day; the battles of Jena, Friedland and Wagram; the Habsburg marriage, and the birth of a King of Rome. Then, at midsummer 2012, will come the anniversary of Napoleon's greatest display of (ultimately ineffective) military might, the massing of half a million men to pursue a phantom victory in the East. It is this 'fatal march on Moscow' that Adam Zamoyski describes so vividly in 1812.
The tale has been told many times already. That is not surprising. Napoleon's invasion of Russia was an epic tragedy of human folly on the widest scale. But Zamoyski's achievement rests on firmer foundations than previous studies. No historian has dug so deeply into eyewitness accounts. The list of 'primary