An outstanding addition to the groaning bookshelves on one of the world’s most recognizable leaders.

NAPOLEON

THE DECLINE AND FALL OF AN EMPIRE: 1811-1821

Broers continues his run of satisfying books on Napoleon.

The relentless fascination with Napoleon and his empire continues to generate books, mostly biographies, and this is another fine entry by Broers, a professor of Western European history at Oxford. Controlling land that stretched from Rome to the Baltic, Napoleon had defeated continental rivals and established friendly relations with Russia, and his forces were having some success suppressing the gruesome Spanish rebellion. Fruitless efforts to cut off British trade finally made a painful impression when he placed Atlantic ports under military rule to suppress smuggling. “Napoleon always wanted war during this period of relative peace,” writes Broers, “just not the one he got in 1812.” His plan to invade Britain—this time with a proper navy—was derailed when Czar Alexander “opened Russian ports to neutral shipping in December 1810” and fended off bullying efforts to bring him into line. By summer 1811, Napoleon was determined to invade Russia. At this point, the text still has 500 pages to go, but few readers will complain as the author describes Napoleon’s preparations from a sullen French nation exasperated by massive taxes, mourning massive casualties, and oppressed by another round of brutally efficient conscription. The titanic army that trundled into Russia in June 1812 began shrinking long before meeting the enemy, led by a ruler Napoleon had consistently underestimated. Fans of War and Peace will learn that Tolstoy and Broers share a modest admiration for Alexander and a lower opinion of the emperor, although, having read all Napoleon’s correspondence, Broers’ opinion is more nuanced. After a gripping account of the Russian debacle, the author recounts Napoleon’s return to Paris. Returning without much of an army left, he wrung another fighting force from his exhausted nation and won several victories before he was forced to abdicate and retire to Elba, from which he returned to power, lost at Waterloo, and ended his life in humiliating exile.

An outstanding addition to the groaning bookshelves on one of the world’s most recognizable leaders.

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-63936-177-9

Page Count: 750

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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