Wednesday, 7 May 2014
Review: Napoleon's Other War: Bandits, Rebels and Their Pursuers in the Age of Revolutions
Napoleon's Other War: Bandits, Rebels and Their Pursuers in the Age of Revolutions by Michael Broers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Broers shows that Napoleon's hold over Europe was contested in almost all places, but that rebellion could only survive at the edge of his empire, in southern Italy and Spain. In the plains, the empire ruled, and often with the consent and collaboration of the elites.
However in the rugged areas the resistance to the new laws of the empire and most importantly against conscription continued, merging with older traditions of local self rule, smuggling and banditry.
Broers uses the stories of famous bandits and tries to separate the truth from the myth. But equally interesting is the story of Napoleon's henchmen who ruthlessly crushed rebellion, drove the mobile columns that chased the bandits and took whole villages hostage to achieve their goals.
Interestingly, there is also a chapter on Spanish America, a reason to return to this book at some other time.
Invaluable for anyone that tries to understand Napoleon's empire, how it worked and why it failed.
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