Publisher: Random House (Audio)
Date: March 2002
Duration: 5 hours 52 minutes
Paul Johnson's book is a refreshing return to a concept whose time has come once again: the Great Man theory of biography. It serves as "the greatest possible refutation of those who hold that events are governed by forces, classes, economics, and geography rather than the powerful wills of men and women". Napoleon truly was the Great Man of his age, a towering and terrible genius who managed to conquer the Continent.
In Napoleon's insatiable hunger for power, Johnson sees a pragmatist constrained neither by patriotism nor by ideology, a brilliant opportunist who fulfilled his ambition in the aftermath of the French Revolution. Johnson puts Napoleon in the context of his times, but his effort seems to underline even more profoundly how Napoleon stood out above them.