The Life of Napoleon: Volume 2
Publisher: Freshwater Seas
Date: April 2016
Duration: 10 hours 22 minutes
William Hazlitt is one of the foremost writers of the English language. His fame as a critic, essayist and social commentator ranks with the likes of Samuel Johnson and George Orwell. He considered his justly famous Life of Napoleon as his most important work.
In this, the second volume of the work, William Hazlitt takes us through the history of Napoleon's campaigns in Italy and Egypt. In the course of these campaigns, and in Napoleon's life in Paris between them, we can see a young, brilliant military leader starting to transform himself from a leader of armies into a leader of nations. His brillian successes on the battlefield bring him to the adoring attention of the French people and the rather alarmed attention of the French government. The Directory finds him to be a very valuable asset and a substantial threat, both at the same time.
Hazlitt was a life-long admirer of Napoleon and of the French Revolution, but his admiration was not blind. His analysis is both passionate and clear-sighted. At this stage in Napoleon's career, he focuses more on the great evens, less on the man and his mind. It is an appropriate focus; at this stage in his life, Napoleon's whole existence was wrapped up in those great events, his personal life was submerged in them.
Hazlitt sometimes transcends and sometimes falls victim to the prevailing attitudes of his day. His thinking sometimes juxtaposes highly progressive ideas with casual bigotry. His text has been left as he wrote it; it is valuable to hear and remember that even great minds have held ideas we prefer to think we have overcome.
The Life of Napoleon was originally published in four volumes in 1828-1830, not long before Hazlitt's death. It was later republished in a limited edition of six volumes by the Grolier Society. This audiobook is based on that edition.