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By 1812, when Napoleon invaded Russia, his Empire covered most of Europe. The invasion was to be its crowning glory. Instead it ended in disaster, defeat and humiliation, and marked the beginning of his decline.

Here, with a brilliant use of sources and gripping narrative, the French campaign is followed day to day within the most intimate context of the Emperor’s state of mind, bad health and indecision. As the invasion heads towards its climax among the flames of Moscow the great disaster that ensued can clearly be seen as the product of innumerable mistakes and omissions.

The greatest military leader of modern times lost his army not by folly but by default; the Russians saved their country more by accident than by strategy.

Reviews

A fine piece of narrative history, a combination of suspense and scholarship ... I was inspired by Palmer to re-read War and Peace.
Antonia Fraser, Sunday Times
Palmer has done justice to these epic events with a lively, vivid narrative, written with the appropriate style and panache.
Lawrence James, The Times