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Stephen Coote
Book Review With Commentary

Coote does a marvelous job of "novelizing" history. His book is just plain interesting to read. Instead of names, dates and places, the usual history fare, Coote brings Napoleon to life. His personal failings are woven into his military genius in unforgettable ways. Napoleon was an accomplished Authoritarian a dozen decades before the personality was defined and named.

Napoleon anticipated Hitler in a second way: speed and daring on the battle field. Along with that, he, like Hitler, hung on to the very end. He was still raving about empire after his final and emphatic defeat at Waterloo. The end came swiftly when his inner circle agreed that he should abdicate from his short second reign.

Coote dramatized vividly how Napoleon shot himself in the foot, to speak metaphorically, at Waterloo. Napoleon was a total dictator, so much so that he alienated almost everyone, including his field commanders who dallied when marching was the order. Wellington was not one to miss an opportunity. With the battle going against him, Napoleon ordered one last suicidal charge before having to flee for his life.

Intrigues and betrayals along the way are equally well chronicled. So also the human affairs that attend great men in court.

From all this it is easy to profile Napoleon as a heartless despot for whom empire was worth any price. In the end, he lost it all.


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