Napoleon and Wellington
At breakfast on the morning of the battle of Waterloo, the Emperor Napoleon declared that the duke of Wellington was a bad general, the British were bad soldiers and that France could not fail to win an easy victory. Forever afterwards, historians have accused him of gross overconfidence and massively underestimating the calibre of the British commander opposed to him. Now the award-winning historian Andrew Roberts presents an original, highly revisionist view of the relationship between the two greatest captains of their age.
Napoleon, who was born in the same year as Wellington – 1769 – fought Wellington by proxy years earlier in the Peninsular War, praising his ruthlessness in private while publicly deriding him as a mere ‘sepoy general’. In contrast, Wellington publicly lauded Napoleon, saying that his presence on a battlefield was worth forty thousand men, but privately he wrote long memoranda lambasting Napoleon’s campaigning techniques.
Although Wellington saved Napoleon from execution after Waterloo, the emperor left money in his will to the man who had tried to assassinate the duke. Wellington in turn amassed a series of Napoleonic trophies of his great victory, even sleeping with two of the emperor’s mistresses.
The fascinating, constantly changing relationship between these two historical giants forms the basis of Andrew Roberts’ compelling study in pride, rivalry, propaganda, nostalgia and posthumous revenge.
‘Andrew Roberts, the political biographer whose life of Lord Salisbury won him the Wolfson Prize for 1999, now brings the same qualities of insight and judgement to the field of military history.’ Correlli Barnett, Sunday Telegraph
‘So many books have been written about Napoleon that it takes something special to justify a new one. Andrew Roberts triumphantly, but simply, fulfils that obligation…This is an enthralling narrative, full of original insights and bold historical interpretations.’ Philip Mansel, Mail on Sunday
‘Stripping his protagonists of mythic accretions, Roberts describes their trajectories with impressive verve.’ Independent