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5.0 out of 5 starsThis book is a Masterpiece!
Reviewed in the United States on March 14, 2020
Have not been overly interested in the Napoleonic era, however, after reading A New World Begins: A History of the French Revolution by Jeremy Popkin, (also an excellent book), my interest has grown. This book is truly a masterpiece in my opinion. Excellent and in depth coverage of the whole world during the Napoleonic Wars. The author kept my interest throughout 642 pages of narrative. I learned a great deal and learned how much this time period influenced the 20th century and into today. Highly recommended!!
5.0 out of 5 starsWell organized, authoritative, engaging
Reviewed in the United States on April 22, 2020
I ordered this book because of a rave review in the March/April issue of Foreign Affairs. I've just finished reading the entire book, which lived up to that review. The author's knowledge of the subject is amazingly extensive. The book is readable and engaging throughout and is well documented with 189 pages of endnotes.
The book's very effective organization protected me from being overwhelmed by the complexities of simultaneous important developments in different parts of the world. In the portion of the book covering the period 1807 to 1812, separate chapters treated Napoleon's Grand Empire, the Iberian Peninsula, Scandinavia, the Ottoman Empire, Iran, India, and the Americas. Each of those chapters told an interesting and manageable story. I shudder to think how tedious and confusing that portion of the book could have been had the author elected instead to present but a single chronological sequence of events.
My only complaint is with the maps, of which there are 29. Several are so small that the names of cities are unreadable without a magnifying glass. Some maps include shading that is too dark to allow names to stand out from the background.
There is no shortage of histories of the Napoleonic wars but none come close to approaching this one in its sweeping depth and scope. Mr Mikaberidze describes not only the critical events in Europe but shows that these wars had global ramifications ranging from the Americas to Asia. Excellent scholarship, fine details and refined reasoning, combined with well turned prose, make this new work not only the definitive reference but a wonderful joy to read. To quote the eminent historian Andrew Roberts, this is "... an instant modern classic".
5.0 out of 5 starsThe substance is great, but as a physical object ,this book is impossible
Reviewed in the United States on June 5, 2020
If you are buying the hard copy, not the kindle, note that it is 935 pages, only 642 of which are text. One third of the book and 300 pages are notes, some substantive, some just cites to secondary materials. Not to criticize the author, but the publisher, but, In hard copy, the book is (at least for me) physically unreadable. A classic "doorstop" people will buy and find they do not want to pick up to read. Publishers hate the idea but books of this size should be published in two volumes.
Reviewed in the United States on September 1, 2020
I just received my copy and scanned through it. All I can say at this point is that it’s a Herculean effort. 250 pages of detailed notes and bibliography alone! I don’t know a great deal about the author, but this would be a lifetime effort for most.
Not to be too much of a pedant, but I often consider the type size for ease of reading. This book’s is adequate, but I usually like it larger. That simple couldn’t be done here without transforming it into a 3 volume set. Again, to make another pedestrian observation, this is a superlative value for amount of information contained at the price. Purchase is justified, if only to have it as a reference text along side David Chandler’s work. But there is a far better reason. The author’s writing is very good and reading for pleasure is both easy and enjoyable.
Postscript: Since first writing this review, I’ve read several more chapters at the other end. I can only describe it as brilliant. And it is probably the best value book I’ve ever purchased. I can’t recommend it too highly.
5.0 out of 5 starsinternational history of napoleonic wars
Reviewed in the United States on September 3, 2020
Most Americans when they think of the napoleonic wars at all think of the war of 1812 or waterloo. I have been reading about the napoleonic wars all of my life. Most histories of the period focus on the stars napoleon britain and France. Finally a history that reveals the true international scope of the wars. I now have a much better appreciation of the dilemma faced by the German speaking people. They did not want to be a part of the French empire but allowing Russia to conquer Europe was not appealing either. A great book.
5.0 out of 5 starsGlobal Overview of the Napoleonic Era
Reviewed in the United States on August 17, 2020
This is an outstanding book if you're interested in the Napoleonic Era, by far the best I know of for its global reach, and perceptive insights into the reverberations of the era throughout the nineteenth century until today. The book I read, a first printing, is full of typos, shame on the OUP, but not a major hindrance to enjoying a major work of scholarship by young historian I hope writes more of equal quality.
5.0 out of 5 starsTreats the Napoleonic era with a global perspective.
Reviewed in the United States on October 1, 2020
This is a remarkable book in terms of its breath and scope. It focus is not on the details of specific campaigns but rather on the complex impacts that these had on the diplomatic and social circumstances in both Europe and in the non-European parts of the globe; including North and South America, the far east, and middle eastern regions. It can be confusing when trying to track the shifting alliances and treaties between the combatants and then relate these to more distant players, but this volume is an excellent effort.
5.0 out of 5 starsA must read for anyone who is deeply interested in this period of history.
Reviewed in Germany on November 7, 2020
This is a truly global history with an incredible amount of information but the writer manages to present it in a logical and highly readable fashion. I've always been interested in this period of history mainly from a European viewpoint but Alexander Mikaberidze's book opens up a completely new wide angle on how the situation in Europe had such a major impact on other parts of the world. The writer makes it clear early on in the book that, although he refers to the various battles which were so important, it is much more than a military history. It is the broad scope of his study that makes the book so fascinating. Absolutely highly recommended.
But first, I must specify what it isn't: The vast majority of books on the Napoleonic Wars are about how the wars were fought, or specific battles or campaigns. If you are looking for military details of all the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, well this book is NOT for you.
The actual military details are pretty minimal, and even the great battles such as Austerlitz, Borodino and of course Waterloo get very little attention.
On the other hand, if you want to know why the Russians and Austrians were often distracted by the Ottomans or Iran or India, or the impact of the wars on the overseas empires of France, Spain, Portugal, Holland (not to mention the Brits) or how the fact that Britain and the US were democracies with changing leadership, while most of the European nations were monarchies that had a consistent leadership through the wars, or why, frankly, all the European nations had rather skeptical views of the British, well this is certainly a book for you.
For the first time, the politics, diplomacy, and economics of the nations involved in the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars is put forth in a very easy to read, and brilliantly researched book
The actual text of the work is 642 pages, with another 190 pages of notes so you can see where the author is getting his information, and approximately 50 pages of select bibliography.
The author has really done his research!
I found the book to be a fascinating and very easy read. It clarified a lot of 'off stage' events that other books sometimes refer to, but never in this detail.
I also found it to be a very even handed in reviewing some of histories most famous or notorious characters (looking here, not just at Napoleon, but Wellington and especially Tsar Alexander, Metternich and Tallyrand).
To anyone who is interested in the political and economic backdrop that these wars were fought against, this book is indespensible.
To anyone looking for military analysis: this is not the book for you!
5.0 out of 5 starsStoria globale delle guerre napoleoniche
Reviewed in Italy on September 15, 2020
Si tratta del libro più aggiornato e completo sul periodo napoleonico. Tratta di guerre ma anche di politica e di economia, con un approccio veramente globale. Fortemente raccomandato, mi piacerebbe tradurlo (l'ho già fatto per parecchi titoli Mondadori)!