Napoleon by Emil Ludwig

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Napoleon by Emil Ludwig, the biography now 74 years old, continues its remarkable presence as a classic of Napoleonic literature and has yet to be surpassed for its unique presentation. Writing in the present tense, Ludwig brings to life his subject’s character better than any other biography of Napoleon.

Why Emil Ludwig’s Napoleon?

This is the great classic biography of Napoleon, just as it was first published in 1926, with the cover here being the original cover on the 1926 work. This book has been reprinted many times, by many different publishers. There have been many other biographies of Napoleon. What makes Emil Ludwig’s work the most famous of all is his literary style and presentation. The book starts with “The Island”, and then follows with “The Torrent”, “The River”, “The Sea” and finally concludes with “The Rock”.

The biography is divided into five books One, “The Island” (birth to marriage); Two, “The Torrent” (Army of Italy to First Counsel); Three, “The River” (Marengo to birth of Napoleon II); Four, “The Sea” (Russia to Waterloo); and Five, “The Rock” (St. Helena). Each book begins with a quote from Goethe.

Although Ludwig does not include a bibliography, the concluding four pages, the “Envoy”, he states, “In this book, all the data are recorded facts, except the soliloquies.” Also, in the acknowledgments he thanked Professor Pariset and Kurt Wildhagen for advice on the book and Edouard Driault and F.M. Kircheisen for help with supplying material for the illustrations.

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