The Resistable Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte


By Malcolm Crook, published 1st December 1998

Malcolm Crook examines the remarkable ascent to power of Napoleon at the turn of the nineteenth century. The great Bicentenary of the French Revolution of 1789 may be drawing to a close, but that of Napoleon is about to commence. So now is an opportune moment to present a critical overview of his advent to power at the turn of the nineteenth century, before the commemorative bandwagon really starts to roll and we are treated to endless repetitions of the Napoleonic myth. Bonaparte (or Buonaparte, to employ the original formulation of the Corsican soldier’s family name, which he altered in 1796) is often presented as the saviour of a France that had become trapped in a revolutionary cul de sac, from which there was no escape.

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