An unmissable set-to between Adam Zamoyski and Andrew Roberts.

What a novel my life has been!’ exclaimed Napoleon – but he wrote much of it himself.  A masterful and shameless manipulator of myths, he created a narrative that still inspires passionate and conflicting responses.Was he a military genius, Romantic superhero, demigod, the incarnation of historical destiny, a divine avatar?

Was he a compulsive warmonger, tyrant, megalomaniac, a monstrous psychopath, or just a nasty little Corsican hood?

All of these things at certain times, Napoleon was none of these things all of the time.

He was a mortal, whose destiny was human as well as historical. He displayed immortal qualities at certain moments, yet presided over the most infamous and avoidable disaster in military history, singlehandedly destroying the great enterprise he and others had toiled to construct.

Nor was he a monster: he could be selfish and violent, but had no wish to inflict gratuitous suffering. His motives were mostly laudable, his ambition no worse than that of contemporaries such as Alexander I of Russia or Wellington, Nelson or Metternich.

What made him exceptional?

Adam Zamoyski will strip away the lacquer of prejudice and set Napoleon in the evolving context of his times: a young man in the 1790s entering a world at war, whose successes would embroil him in a struggle for supremacy and survival against European leaders spurred by self-interest and the lust for power. He will try to explain how Napoleone Buonaparte, the boy from Corsica, became ‘Napoleon’; how he achieved what he did, how he undid it, how it undid him.

Rather than glorify or condemn, let us seek to understand Napoleon’s extraordinary trajectory – from the inside.

Was he Great?

Was he small?


Watch Adam Zamoyski and Andrew Roberts have it out.





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