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Synopsis

This collection of written and spoken statements of Napoleon serves not as an historical record or analysis, but as insight into the mind and character of a fascinating historical figure. It demonstrates the luminous strength and almost supernatural power of Napoleon’s mind, displaying an exceptional energy in thought as well as action.

The selections are edited and organized topically to offer a broad range of subjects—from “The Human Heart” to “The Art of War”—and to establish a coherent, unified pattern, providing a fresh perspective on the genius of Napoleon.

The sources used fall into three categories: (1) Napoleon’s writings, including autograph manuscripts and dictations of letters, orders, decisions, bulletins, proclamations, newspaper articles, memoirs, commentaries, etc.; (2) Napoleon’s oral opinions as given at the Conseil d’Etat, including stenographic transcripts, official minutes, and unofficial notes taken by various councilors; (3) recorded conversations and reminiscences of Napoleon’s contemporaries from about 1800 to 1821.

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