- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: UK General Books (April 16 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0006531466
- ISBN-13: 978-0006531463
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
- Shipping Weight: 240 g
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,080,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Napoleon His Wives And Women Paperback – Apr 16 2003
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It's well known that Napoleon Bonaparte had a huge appetite for power: Christopher Hibbert's Napoleon: His Wives and Women reminds us of his great ardour for the opposite sex as well. Twice-married (to Josephine de Beauharnais in 1796, and to Marie Louise of Austria in 1811) Napoleon was also a serial philanderer, rarely without a lover until ill and apparently impotent in exile at the end of his life. This is the latest in a long line of Hibbert's "personal histories" of (mostly) 19th-century famous figures. He displays, once more, his skill at getting beneath the skin of his subjects and in this case revealing the moody temperament and possessive libido of the French conqueror.
Hibbert accounts for not only Napoleon's mistresses and marriages, but also his formative relationship with his mother and with his sisters, and he also describes the many women (from maids to society hostesses) who came into Napoleon's orbit, as confidants, carers and commentators. This is a compendious account of Napoleon's private life (much of which was inevitably public too), underpinned by a secure hold on the military history of the first empire. What it all adds up to, that is, what part all these women played in the rise and fall of Napoleon, Hibbert seems reluctant to say, eschewing both psychological and sexual speculation. At the end of this poised and highly readable study, we are left only with Napoleon's somewhat jaundiced and weary conclusion that women "belong to the highest bidder". --Miles Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Hibbert is both eclectic and prolific, and his energies are hardly flagging; in the last few years, he has produced well-regarded biographies of Wellington, Queen Victoria and George III. Hibbert has a talent for visiting old ground with a fresh eye, and as he crosses the Channel, he does not disappoint. The Napoleon who emerges is not the victor, the emperor nor even the hero brought low, but the man as revealed in his relations with the numerous women in his life: his wives, his mistresses, his sisters and his mother. It is, on the whole, not a pretty sight. Napoleon was often crude, rude, insulting and even violent toward women, some of whom unaccountably found him irresistible. Marie Walewska, the teenaged wife of a Polish count offered to Napoleon to avert the destruction of Poland, fainted at their first private encounter and was raped while unconscious. Still, she appears to have fallen in love with him, and bore his child. Poland, however, was not saved. Napoleon demanded that he be first in the heart of any woman close to him and was ruthless when he detected divided loyalties. He upbraided his stepdaughter, Hortense, for mourning the death of her little boy excessively, and saw to it that Mme. Rcamier's banker husband was ruined and she herself banished because she virtuously preferred her husband to him. Through all of this, Hibbert remains studiously nonjudgmental, allowing readers to form their own conclusions about the character of the great man. 16 pages color, 8 pages b&w illus. not seen by PW.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Mr. Hibbert gives the reader a balance of the negative and the positive attributes that made up the complex, enigmatic Napoleon. My only negative was that he seemed to whiz through the telling of Waterloo.
This book would probably be most worthwhile for someone looking for a different aspect in the enormous collection of writings about Napoleon available today.
It is fun to read, and informative in its own limited way. If you are expecting a comprehensive examination of the Napoleonic Era, then this is not the book for you. Its very subject matter leaves it somewhat restricted. However it is worth reading nonetheless. It may add a dimension to Napoléon that was previously unknown to you.
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