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Napoleon's Expedition to Russia The Memoirs of General Count De Segur by General de Segur

Napoleon's Expedition to Russia The Memoirs of General Count De Segur

RRP £12.99


Napoleon's Expedition to Russia The Memoirs of General Count De Segur by General de Segur

Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812 remains one of the greatest military and humanitarian disasters of all time. Within six months a million lives were lost, the largest army ever assembled was destroyed, and the Emperor himself transformed from the master of a continent to a fugitive. General Count de Segur's first-hand account remains our chief source of information about this most dramatic of military debacles. From the Grand Army's first steps on Russian soil, to its miraculous escape at the River Berezina, this must rank as one of the greatest war stories ever written. First published in 1824, it caused a sensation. The author, who had served on the Emperor's staff, dared to present him as a flawed genius, resulting in a duel with Napoleon's former aide-de-camp, General Gourgaud. The public blood-letting (de Segur was wounded) only heightened demand and it was translated into every major European language.


General Count Philippe-Paul De Segur dared to say and publish what others in Napoleon's ranks had only whispered among themselves, and it almost cost him his life. By the time De Segur's account of the 1812 debacle in Russia came out, Napoleon himself had been dead for three years. But the former emperor retained a fanatical following in the way that Hitler did among former Nazis after 1945, and De Segur was forced to fight a duel. In the end he escaped with only a wound - 'the best thing that ever happened to me', he was reported to have remarked. This was because the duel aroused immense interest first in France and then in the wider world, and his book went on to be published in every major European language. Christopher Summerville has performed a skilful job here in condensing De Segur's rambling, flowery epic into a single volume that loses none of its impact. In fact the editing enhances what was in its original form a tedious and excursionary account full of irrelevances. Even so, the early-19th century prose is archaic to modern eyes and that makes it tough going although the story it tells is riveting enough. De Segur relates how Napoleon and his army (including De Segur) entered Russia in the midst of a raging storm as conquerors of much of Europe, and fled six months later thoroughly routed and with an empire crumbling around them. The largest army ever assembled was in disarray, more than a million had died and Napoleon's generals saw him at last as a rash and cocksure individual rather than the infallible hero they had once idolised. Summerville has included copious notes and included lengthy passages of his own to bridge the gap between edited sections of De Segur's account. Here we have the tale of one of the great moments in European history, told by a man who saw it happen. (Kirkus UK)

About the Author

Christopher Summerville is the editor of the critically acclaimed Robinson edition of The Exploits of Baron de Marbot.

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Book Info

Publication date

27th February 2003


General de Segur

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Robinson Publishing an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group


320 pages


European history
Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900
Battles & campaigns
Napoleonic Wars



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