In the Words of Napoleon - The Emperor Day by Day, ed. R.M. Johnston

In the Words of Napoleon - The Emperor Day by Day, ed. R.M. Johnston

This is an updated version of a book originally produced in 1910 in an attempt to produce an artificial Napoleon 'diary', providing a chronological series of quotes from Napoleon covering his entire life from his childhood to his exile on Elba. The bulk of the book covers the period from 1796 onwards, the period of his fame. The quotes come from a wide range of sources from private letters to the infamous Bulletins, and thus have rather different motives. Unfortunately the original book didn't provide sources, so it isn't always clear where each quote came from, although the general context is normally clear.

It must be said Napoleon often doesn't emerge well. He seems to have become increasingly deluded as time went by (also demonstrated by his increasingly poor grasp of political reality as his Empire crumbled). He also managed some fairly impressive moments early on, my favourite being a claim that 'I don't make predictions', written in response to a newspaper article. Even by this point we've already come across more than enough ambitious predications, and they were a fairly standard part of his repertoire. Later on his attempts to justify his ever increasing status and personal power are rather unconvincing, especially after his earlier claims to be a good republican and we see Napoleon's ego inflate with time 

This is an interested idea, and an entertaining read. However it is also worth remembering that Napoleon produced a vast amount of written material, and a different editor could have produced a very different picture of the Emperor. Having said that, these extracts are generally consistent with other material on Napoleon, the basic idea is a good one, and it allows us to follow Napoleon's own views of the most famous incidents in his life.

By year 1796-1815
St Helena

Author: Napoleon
Editor: R.M. Johnston
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 416
Publisher: Frontline
Year: 2016

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