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Napoleon's Library (Hardback)

The Emperor, His Books and Their Influence on the Napoleonic Era

Military > Frontline Books Military > Pre-WWI > Napoleonic P&S History > By Century > 19th Century World History > Europe

By Louis N Sarkozy
Frontline Books
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 16 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399055239
Published: 30th May 2024

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Napoleon Bonaparte held absolute political power in France and his influence stretched across Europe and beyond. Yet he remained – between leading his armies and ruling over a vast empire – an indefatigable reader who even carried libraries into battle.

Bonaparte’s love of the written word, birthed in childhood and nurtured as an adolescent and young adult, never left him. He was a lover of literature for its own sake – often swooning over melodramatic love stories – but he also understood the value of books as instruments of power. Before his campaigns, he poured over dozens of texts relating to the relevant theatres’ geography, population, trade, and history. When contemplating grave decisions, such as his divorce to Empress Josephine, he consulted the historical record for useful precedents to justify and inform his actions. To bolster his troop’s morale during challenging times, he constantly referenced history in his proclamations, making his contemporaries feel as if they were actively shaping history. They were.

The library of an individual is the key to his mind. Behind the grandiose paintings of the victorious conqueror and the constructions of the propagandist, stands the reader. This book is an attempt to glimpse Napoleon’s character without the veneer of imperial glory.

What was he like, alone at night by his fireplace? What thoughts percolated in the mind of the ambitious 20-year-old, isolated in a little room while theorizing about man’s happiness? Who are the literary and historical figures which can claim to have had impacted his life? Who were his favourite authors?

Through this book the reader will embark on a literary promenade with the great general and statemen. In these pages are found the emperor’s favourite authors. And with them, the key to understanding his mind.

“Before he was a soldier, before he was a conqueror, and before he was a statesman, Napoleon Bonaparte was a reader. Mr. Sarkozy has given us a witty and insightful look into this important, but often-ignored side of Bonaparte’s character. ‘Napoleon’s Library’ is perceptive, well-researched, and a pleasure to read. Whether this is your first or fiftieth book about Napoleon, you will come away from ‘Napoleon’s Library’ with a fresh, deeper perspective on the most fascinating person of the modern age and the ideas that shaped him.”

Everett Rummage, host of the Age of Napoleon Podcast

Article: 'Mightier than the sword'

Highlight: '[Louis is] a talented historian, he has the wide reading but also the objectivity... he's a sophisticated writer... It's very impressive.'

Telegraph Luxury

“I very much enjoyed learning more about another interesting facet of my ancestor, including plenty of uncovered insights and anecdotes that I didn’t know.”

Jean Christophe Napoleon Bonaparte, descendant and heir of the Bonaparte family.

"One of Louis Sarkozy's great merits is to remind us - with brio - that Napoleon Bonaparte's art of governing, waging war and leading men was served by an ambition for knowledge, a constant curiosity and, last but not least, a mastery of culture far superior to that of many of his rivals and contemporaries.”

Thierry Lentz, Director of the Fondation Napoleon

“This book reads like a dynamic novel with a main character who is larger than life.”

Borna Sosa, left back, Ajax Football Club.

“It's said that a man is what he reads. Napoleon read widely from Brienne to St. Helena. During his campaigns, a suitcase library followed him everywhere. Rousseau, Plutarch, Corneille, Racine, and so many others accompanied him, some of them all his life. Taking an interest in his readings and exploring the libraries he had installed in all his residences will help us better understand the "most powerful breath of life that ever-animated human clay". That's what this book does.”

Gerard Araud, Former French Ambassador to the United States and author.

“A riveting read. Although we no longer have access to Napoleon, this new book allows a peek inside his mind through the books with which he surrounded himself."

Generals and Napoleon Podcast host John W. Viscardo.

“ Louis Sarkozy has written a dense, rich and unexpected book about Napoleon's greatest passion, books. A portrait of great intelligence.”

Arthur Chevallier, French Historian, Editor and Literary Critic.

Article: Sarkozy Jr's novel take on Napoleon: the emperor loved bad romantic fiction

The Sunday Times

Can’t wait to read it ..
Didn’t know he was a “book addict “

Cecilia Attias

About Louis N Sarkozy

Louis Sarkozy is the co-author of “Une Envie de Désaccords” (Plonc, 2019)—written with his mother Cecilia Sarkozy—in his native France. He has published extensively in French and American media outlets on religion, politics, philosophy, and history. A graduate of International Relations Masters program at the American University in Washington D.C., Louis Sarkozy previously graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy and New York University with a double major in history and philosophy.


He is currently applying to the United States Army's Officer Candidate School, where he hopes to start a career as an Army officer. His father, Nicolas Sarkozy, is an author and the former president of the French Republic.

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No one in history has provoked more controversy than Napoleon Bonaparte. Was he an enlightened ruler or brutal tyrant? Was he an insatiable warmonger or a defender of France against the aggression of the other great powers. Was he kind or cruel, farsighted or blinkered, a sophisticate or a philistine, a builder or a destroyer? Napoleon was at once all that his partisans laud, his enemies condemn, and much more. He remains fascinating, both because he so dramatically changed the course of history and had such a complex, paradoxical character. One thing is certain, if the art of leadership is about…

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