Napoleon’s Wars: An International History, 1803–1815 by Charles Esdaile - review by Andrew Roberts

Andrew Roberts

The Emperor of Spin

Napoleon’s Wars: An International History, 1803–1815


Allen Lane / The Penguin Press 602pp £30

Professor Charles Esdaile, the author of an excellent history of the Peninsular War, has now followed it up with an even better history of the Napoleonic Wars from the breakdown of the Peace of Amiens in 1803 to the opening of the second Vienna Congress in 1815. Although it is subtitled An International History because of its deliberate emphasis on those areas of the conflict that are often skirted around by historians, another subtitle might have been: ‘Napoleon – The Case for the Prosecution’.

It is Esdaile’s contention that, along with Julius Caesar, Napoleon was able so to frame the debate about his achievements that it is almost impossible today to analyse him except within those same parameters. (By writing The Second World War so soon after the struggle ended, Winston Churchill might also

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