Saturday, August 11, 2018

A Brief Note on THE SHADOW EMPEROR (2018)

The Shadow Emperor: A Biography of Napoleon IIIThe Shadow Emperor: A Biography of Napoleon III by Alan Schom
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Schom's book should be interesting, and at the outset, he sets out his intention to redeem (from a historical memory that has regarded him as little more than a bumbler with the good fortune to inherit the Bonaparte legacy) the man who, more than anyone else, made modern France. Unfortunately, it isn't: the book recounts events, but does little to provide insight, giving it the feel of a breathless catalog (the one exception is in Schom's treatment of the Second Empire's colonialism in Algeria, where the author attempts to link the appalling crimes of the nineteenth century with intra-Algerian and Franco-Algerian migration patterns down to our day). Through it all, the reader isn't left with a great sense of Napoleon III as a person (Schom does far better with figures like the Emperor's half-brother Auguste de Morny, or Hausmann) -- a cardinal sin in a biography on such a well-documented life.

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