Chesterton is one of the neglected giants of 20th-century English literature. This book ought to be considered a minor classic of both fantasy and political allegory. It tells the story of the consequences of a decree issued on a whim by a bored governor that London be devolved into districts corresponding roughly to its ancient boroughs, and each given municipal rituals in order to instil a sense of civic belonging. This joke takes on a life of its own, as the citizens of the "new" boroughs take the battle - eventually, literally a battle - to each other. The Napoleon of the title is Adam Wayne, an enthusiastic *citoyen* who takes the new arrangements with great seriousness - and whose territorial aggrandisement and downfall mirror Napoleon's career. The point that Chesterton intimates - in a vastly more effective, because more subtle, way than more explicitly political novelists, such as Upton Sinclair - is that small and knowable communities are a desirable and indeed virtuous focus of our loyalties, but that the aggrandisement of power and territorial ambition tend to corrupt. While fashionable literary opinion (Wells, Shaw, Wyndham Lewis and so many others) was about to take a terrible wrong turning in favour of the totalitarianism of Right or Left, Chesterton's essential and very English sense of moderation formed, and continues to express, a most effective and beautifully written counterpoint.