cover image One Hundred Days: Napoleon's Road to Waterloo

One Hundred Days: Napoleon's Road to Waterloo

Alan Schom. Atheneum Books, $28 (398pp) ISBN 978-0-689-12097-8

Schon ( Trafalgar ) writes of Napoleon's escape from Elba in February 1815 and his return ``like a thunderbolt'' to France. Rallying the nation behind him, he mustered his army and marched off to meet Wellington at Waterloo. Schon describes the extraordinary logistical feat carried out jointly by War Minister Louis Davout and Interior Minister Lazare Carnot while Napoleon himself concentrated on mobilizing the troops. Waterloo was a crushing defeat, to be sure, but Schon argues that Napoleon's basic plan of campaign was a good one. The main problem, he maintains, was that the senior army commanders (marshals Soult, Ney and Grouchy) either disobeyed Napoleon's orders or deliberately hindered their execution. No admirer of Bonaparte, Schon describes how, ``in utter defiance of the facts,'' his reputation rebounded after his death and developed into the Napoleon myth. This is a first-class reconstruction of Napoleon's final campaign. Illustrations. Paperback rights to Oxford. (Sept.)