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The Path to Power

Philip Dwyer

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A major biography of the young Napoleon Bonaparte and his improbable rise to power

“A satisfying, psychologically convincing account of Napoleon’s early years. . . . Even-handed and authoritative.”—Adam Zamoyski, Sunday Times (London)

At just thirty years of age, Napoleon Bonaparte ruled the most powerful country in Europe. But the journey that led him there was neither inevitable nor smooth.  This authoritative biography focuses on the evolution of Napoleon as a leader and debunks many of the myths that are often repeated about him—sensational myths often propagated by Napoleon himself. Here, Philip Dwyer sheds new light on Napoleon’s inner life—especially his darker side and his passions—to reveal a ruthless, manipulative, driven man whose character has been disguised by the public image he carefully fashioned to suit the purposes of his ambition.

Dwyer focuses acutely on Napoleon’s formative years, from his Corsican origins to his French education, from his melancholy youth to his flirtation with radicals of the French Revolution, from his first military campaigns in Italy and Egypt to the political-military coup that brought him to power in 1799. One of the first truly modern politicians, Napoleon was a master of “spin,” using the media to project an idealized image of himself. Dwyer’s biography of the young Napoleon provides a fascinating new perspective on one of the great figures of modern history.

Philip Dwyer is senior lecturer at The University of Newcastle in Australia. He is author or editor of numerous publications on Napoleonic Europe, and is currently writing a biography of Napoleon’s later years.

A candidate for the History Book Club

“. . . more than just a canter across familiar terrain…an attractive addition to the literature on one of the most controversial figures in modern European history”—Thomas Munch-Petersen, BBC History Magazine

“Remarkable . . . a satisfying, psychologically convincing account of Napoleon’s early years and ascent to power.  Even-handed and authoritative, this fascinating and highly enjoyable book will be an eye opener even to those who think they know the subject well”—Adam Zamoyski, Sunday Times of London

"This is a marvelous book and undoubtedly the best biography of Napoleon for over a generation. Dwyer gives a freshness to familiar incidents and brings Napoleon and those around him to life as flesh and blood human beings. Truly excellent."—Adrian Goldsworthy, author of Caesar: Life of a Colossus


"An excellent history and a very good read."—John Merriman, New York Sun

"For readers interested in the French Revolution, Dwyer's biography possesses attractive narrative fluidity and long-term library value as a research source."—Booklist

"Dwyer offers a thorough and engrossing examination of Napoleon Bonaparte's meteoric rise to power. . . . The result is a truly human portrait of a man who claimed to be larger than life. . . . This first of a projected two-volume study will give the specialist or any interested reader a much deeper understanding of one of the most fascinating figures in world history and is essential for all Napoleonic collections."—Library Journal

"Philip Dwyer's scrupulously researched new biography Napoleon is doubly illuminating. First because it gives a strictly factual account of the evolution of one of history's most romantic and overreaching careers, one that posterity has ever after been bent on cutting down to size. Even more important, Mr. Dwyer reveals the very familiar and unromantic processes by which that power was acquired, or rather taken, from a public seduced by myths and romantic fictions."—David Walton, Dallas Morning News

"A well-written and thoughtfully argued account of the early life of Napolean Bonaparte. . . . Napoleon is a valuable work and one recommended to those interested in the personality of Napoleon Bonaparte and the French Revolution. It should also be of great interest to political scientists studying the blend of the political and military arenas personified in one man."—Colonel James P. Herson, Jr., Parameters: U.S. Army War College Quarterly

"Dwyer deserves priase for elements of his fresh, modern approach and exhaustive research that utilizes archival sources, rare memoirs, and recent scholarship. . . . [His] biography is fascinating in its unusual descriptions of Napoleon's tribulations and his motivations."—Llewellyn Cook, The Journal of Military History

"An excellent read for the specialist of the French Revolution as well as the specialist in Bonapartism."--Anne York, The Historian

A 2008 Top Seller in European History as compiled by YBP Library Services
ISBN: 9780300151329
Publication Date: March 10, 2009
672 pages, 5 3/16 x 9
64 b/w illus. + 4 maps

Sales Restrictions: For sale in the U.S. only
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Philip Dwyer

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