Document Type


Publication Date



Was he fascinating or repulsive? The bold courier of republican liberty under law or the scabrous carrier of lethal Jacobin corruption? Heaven-sent deliverer or providential scourge? Even his name was up for grabs: was it Bonaparte or Buonaparte? One need only dip into contemporary sources to realize that the British were obsessed with Napoleon. Stuart Semmel has done a first-rate job combing through those sources and using them to illuminate political culture. (Semmel does not offer the primary quotations I will use here. I offer them for fun, or to pile on with glee, and not at all to reproach him.) Do not mistake his book for an overstuffed quotefest. Semmel’s analytic work is sometimes understated but consistently first rate.