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A Political Life

Steven Englund

ISBN 9780674018037

Publication date: 04/30/2005

Winner of the J. Russell Major Prize, American Historical Association
Best Book on the First Empire by a Foreigner, Napoleon Foundation

“Englund has written a most distinguished book recounting Bonaparte’s life with clarity and ease…This magnificent book tells us much that we did not know and gives us a great deal to think about.”—Douglas Johnson, Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Englund, in his lively biography…seeks less to rehabilitate Napoleon’s reputation and legacy than to provide readers with a fuller view of the man and his actions.”—Paula Friedman, New York Times

Napoleon: A Political Life is a veritable tour de force: the general reader will enjoy it immensely, and learn a great deal from it. But the book also has much to offer historians of modern France.”—Sudhir Hazareesingh, Times Literary Supplement

“Englund’s incisive forays into political theory don’t diminish the force of his narrative, which impressively conveys the epochal changes confronting both France and Europe…A strikingly argued biography.”—Matthew Price, Washington Post

This sophisticated and masterful biography brings new and remarkable analysis to the study of modern history’s most famous general and statesman. As Englund charts Napoleon’s dramatic rise and fall—from his Corsican boyhood, his French education, his astonishing military victories and no less astonishing acts of reform as First Consul (1799–1804) to his controversial record as Emperor and, finally, to his exile and death—he explores the unprecedented power Napoleon maintains over the popular imagination.


  • Englund’s book feature[s] brilliantly pyrotechnic prose and a keen appreciation of Napoleon’s political instincts.

    —David A. Bell, The Nation


  • Steven Englund is a scholar of French history.

Book Details

  • 600 pages
  • 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Harvard University Press