Sunday, 19 August 2018

This Dark Business

John Tarttelin, the author of The Real Napoleon, The Untold Story, has drawn my attention to a new book by Tim Clayton which describes the secret attempts of the British Government to remove Napoleon from power by whatever means necessary, including of course assassination.

The publisher's synopsis is worth quoting:

We have been taught to think of Napoleon as the aggressor - a man with an unquenchable thirst for war and glory - but what if this story masked the real truth: that the British refusal to make peace either with revolutionary France or with the man who claimed to personify the revolution was the reason this Great War continued for more than twenty years? At this pivotal moment when it consolidated its place as number one world power Britain was uncompromising. To secure the continuing rule of Church and King, the British invented an evil enemy, the perpetrator of any number of dark deeds; and having blackened Napoleon's name, with the help of networks of French royalist spies and hitmen, they also tried to assassinate him.

None of this comes as a surprise to me, nor would it have surprised the many contemporary opposition figures who refused to accept the Loyalist caricature of Napoleon as the "Corsican Ogre".

John Tarttellin's own book, which was published over 5 years ago but which I only found out about recently, takes a similar view. I picked up the following from its online description:

He was not short, he was often generous and he seldom forgot a friend, particularly those from his early days before he was famous. France was attacked in 1802, 1805, 1806, 1807, 1809 and 1814 - yet it is always Napoleon who is blamed for the so-called Napoleonic Wars, a misnomer if ever there was one.

That is as concise a rebuttal of the conventional UK view of Napoleon as I have seen. Andrew Roberts's Napoleon the Great does a similar job, but in far more words!


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