The Invisible Emperor: Napoleon on Elba from Exile to Escape

Penguin. Sept. 2018. 384p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780735222601. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780735222618. HIST
OrangeReviewStarFollowing decades of bloodshed and warfare, and under military pressure from an allied coalition led by Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia, Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821) reluctantly relinquished his position as Emperor of France and Italy in 1814. With the Treaty of Fontainebleau, he was exiled to the small Mediterranean island of Elba. While giving the appearance of settling into obscurity, Napoleon used his ten months of seeming retirement to fortify the island, build a small fleet, and gather an armed expeditionary force that later crossed to the mainland. Based on extensive research of primary sources, historian and author Braude (former fellow and lecturer, Stanford Univ.; Making Monte Carlo) effectively presents Napoleon's seen and unseen activities on Elba against the larger picture of European politics of the time. The result is an intriguing look at a still controversial public figure during an often overlooked historical period.
VERDICT For readers of French history, there is little about the Napoleonic legend that isn't fascinating, and as Braude proves, the time spent on Elba is no exception.
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