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Napoleon the Great summary

Andrew Roberts

How Napoleon Conquered Europe and Changed the World

4.6 (203 ratings)
34 mins

Brief summary

Napoleon the Great by Andrew Roberts is a biography of Napoleon Bonaparte, exploring his accomplishments as a military genius and political leader. It offers an in-depth look at his life and legacy, shedding light on his impact on European history.

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    Napoleon the Great
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    Despite being born into a lower-class family, Napoleon rose to become one of the French army’s youngest officers.

    If there’s one thing we all know about Napoleon, it’s that he was as French as they come, right? Well, the truth is he wasn't even born in mainland France; rather, the life of this great conqueror began on August 15, 1769, on the island of Corsica, a Mediterranean island freed from Italian control in 1755 – and which only became part of France in 1768.

    In other words, Napoleone di Buonaparte, as he was named at birth, came from Italian roots. And although his family had a respectable position in Corsican society, his father had to apply for nobility to ensure his son’s prosperity.

    Napoleon’s parents were Carlo and Letizia Buonaparte and, although Carlo was a proud Corsican, he jumped at an opportunity to obtain a secure government job. Around 1769, Carlo pledged his loyalty to Louis XV of France.

    The Buonaparte family was large and Letizia bore 13 children, eight of whom survived childhood. So, in 1771, to provide for his family, Carlo applied for the Buonapartes to be recognized as Corsican nobility, in order to open up all the benefits that would afford his children. This application was successful and among those benefits was that Napoleon was able to attend the Royal Military School of Brienne-le-Château.

    Once there, he studied hard and was soon excelling in his classes. He was often teased by his classmates for being one of the first Corsicans to attend the school, and considered as fake nobility, but that only made Napoleon work harder to prove himself. He studied eight hours a day, learning all he could about math, Latin, history, weaponry and the arts. It was during this time that he also learned to speak French, though he would speak it with a Corsican accent his entire life.

    In the end, his hard work paid off; at the age of just 16, he became one of the youngest French army officers, and the only Corsican at that time to hold a prestigious artillery commission.

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    What is Napoleon the Great about?

    Napoleon the Great (2014) is an in-depth look into the life and times of the infamous French conqueror, Napoleon Bonaparte. These blinks detail how Napoleon, once a penniless young man, became a general at the age of 24 before going on to revolutionize the French military and government, and leaving an indelible mark on European and world history.

    Napoleon the Great Review

    Napoleon the Great (2013) by Andrew Roberts is a captivating biography that delves into the life of one of history's most iconic figures. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Roberts skillfully explores Napoleon's military genius and strategic brilliance, shedding light on his numerous conquests and the impact he had on Europe.
    • Through meticulous research and meticulous attention to detail, the book provides a comprehensive and well-rounded account of Napoleon's rise to power and eventual downfall.
    • With its narrative prowess and gripping storytelling, the book avoids dry historical analysis, keeping readers engaged and enthralled throughout.

    Best quote from Napoleon the Great

    Of the eight of Bonaparte children who survived, three became kings, two princesses, and one an emperor.

    —Andrew Roberts
    example alt text

    Who should read Napoleon the Great?

    • History buffs
    • Students of European and military history
    • Anyone interested in a truly fascinating life story

    About the Author

    Andrew Roberts is a renowned and award-winning historian and biographer. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and his other titles include The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War and Salisbury: Victorian Titan.

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    Napoleon the Great FAQs 

    What is the main message of Napoleon the Great?

    Discover the life and legacy of Napoleon the Great, a remarkable leader who conquered Europe and reshaped history.

    How long does it take to read Napoleon the Great?

    The reading time for Napoleon the Great varies depending on the reader's pace. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Napoleon the Great a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Napoleon the Great is an insightful and captivating read. It offers a deep understanding of Napoleon's character and accomplishments.

    Who is the author of Napoleon the Great?

    The author of Napoleon the Great is Andrew Roberts.

    What to read after Napoleon the Great?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Napoleon the Great, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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