Kimberley Heuston’s Napoleon: Emperor and Conqueror


Heuston, K. (2010). In Napoleon: Emperor and conqueror. New York: Franklin Watts. 9780531212776

Of  “A Wicked History” Series, the one about Napoleon was the first one I borrowed from HCPL. My dad managed to read this one before I did, too.

On 15 August 1769, Nabullione Buonoparte was born in the newly French land of Corsica. His folks had Italian leanings but this didn’t prevent them from sending their sharp son away to French military school. While his mother may have seen Nabullione’s gifts for math and strategy, nobody could’ve predicted he would rise to the title of emperor.

Napoleon Bonaparte (the French version of his name) made himself the ruler of the French Empire in 1804. A great general who slept very little, picked fights, and found himself, ultimately, at rock bottom.

Within his madness, I found some sympathy for Napoleon. Then, I would remember the way he treated his wife, his beloved Josephine, or how he maniacally marched troops all over the Old World to please himself. Still and all, his mark on history is indelible. Napoleon inspired Beethoven’s Eroica and what Alfred Adler termed the “Napoleon Complex.” This was also the man who brought the Napoleonic Code.

Wicked? Mad? Overcompensating? All of the above? Who’s to say?

My favorite part was the author’s note. Heuston described how a student teacher imitated Napoleon in a lecture, hand in cardigan, because Napoleon had no pockets. This made Heuston ask, “Is it legal for school to be this fun?”

Four out of Five Pearls

Quote:

My business is to succeed, and I’m good at it.

– Napoleon to Pope Pius VII in 1804

Word Bank: (from the glossary of this book)

  • battalion – a large unit of soldiers; in Napoleon’s armies, a unit of about 840 soldiers
  • blockade – the closing off of an area to keep people or supplies from moving in or out
  • bubonic plague – a serious disease that spreads quickly and often causes death
  • commission – a written order giving rank in the armed services
  • constitution – the system of laws in a country that state the rights of the people and the powers of the government
  • consul – any of the three chief executives of France from 1799 to 1804; Napoleon was First Consul, the most important of the three
  • Directory – the executive body, made up of five men, that led France from 1795 to 1799.
  • egotist – someone who has an exaggerated sense of self importance
  • embargo – an official ban on trade or other commercial activity with a particular country
  • envoy – a person appointed to represent one government in its dealings with another
  • exemption – a release from a rule that others have to follow
  • exile – the state of being barred from one’s native country
  • fraternity – the state or feeling of friendship and mutual support within a group
  • guerrilla – describing a type of warfare in which small groups of fighters launch surprise attacks against an official army
  • guillotine – a large machine with a sharp blade used to sever heads of criminals
  • hieroglyphics – writing used by ancient Egyptians, made up of pictures and symbols
  • legislature – a group of people who have the power to make or change laws for a country or state
  • Napoleonic Code – the first modern organized body of law governing France, established by Napoleon in 1804
  • republic – a form of government in which citizens have the power to elect representatives who manage the government
  • revolution – an uprising by the people of a country that changes the country’s system of government
  • Royalist – a person who supported the monarchy during the French Revolution

Places: Corsica, France, Italy, Egypt, Prussia, Russia

Music:

For more on Napoleon, please see the following:

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