Napoleon and His Collaborators: The Making of a Dictatorship

Isser Woloch, Author W. W. Norton & Company $29.95 (281p) ISBN 978-0-393-05009-7
The principal contention of this work by Columbia University historian Woloch (The New Regime) is that the nature of Napoleon's regime can best be seen by examining the careers of the men who supported him in his seizure and consolidation of power, and the author makes a good case in this interesting and informative book. The reader who tackles it, though, would be well advised to know a little something about the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era before beginning. Many have long held that the role of Napoleon and his empire in the revolution was to consolidate its gains and make impossible a return to the status quo of prerevolutionary France. The author shows in support of this idea that the men who backed the young Corsican general were by and large moderate revolutionaries who favored the ideals of 1789, but rejected the extreme democracy and the disorder of the Jacobin phase of the revolution. On the other hand, this book is full of fascinating details of just how the seizure of power and the resultant corruption of revolutionary ideals were accomplished. The supporters of Napoleon's coup found themselves in a moral dilemma, which the author explores through an analogous example of the men who supported the American war in Vietnam. In both cases, he believes, these men gave to their leader the loyalty that more properly was owed to their nation. (Feb.) Forecast: This title may see a boost in sales if displayed with Robert Asprey's Rise of Napoleon (Forecasts, Nov. 27, 2000).
Reviewed on: 02/19/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 281 pages - 978-0-393-32341-2
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