Imperial Glory: The Bulletins of Napoleon’s Grande Armée 1805–1814 By J. David Markham. London, Greenhill,
Reviewed by John G. Gallaher
J. David Markham has compiled
the first English language translation of all of the bulletins of the Grande
Armée from 1805 to 1814. In addition, he has included reports from
marshals and the major general of the army, Marshal Alexander Berthier.
Markham has written an excellent introduction that he calls "A modern
view of Napoleon's bulletins" in which he points out the strengths and
weaknesses in the use of these documents. The book also contains the
bulletins of Marshal Masséna's Army of Italy in 1805; a selected guide to
men and their titles; a partial list of other important individuals
mentioned in the bulletins; and a very good index, all of which make it very
user-friendly for scholars doing research on Napoleon, his generals, and/or
the Napoleonic wars.
These bulletins also provide a real insight into Napoleonic propaganda.
They were written for publication
in the Moniteurr, the official government newspaper, to bolster moral
and support on the home front and to raise the moral of the troops on
campaigns. Thus, when he deemed it wise or necessary, the Emperor was given
to exaggerate his successes and accomplishments and those of his armies
while playing down his reversals and setbacks.
Nevertheless, the bulletins
provide a wealth of information on Napoleon, his armies, and men who fought
those wars. Markham has provided a major contribution to Napoleonic studies
by making the bulletins available in the English language in one concise
volume. It will be a welcomed addition to individual libraries and a must
for colleges and universities where French history is taught.
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