Martin Bril, De kleine keizer

Book coverI never shared the Martin Bril’s predelection for France, or his interest in Napoleon, but the fact that the emperor started the ninetheenth century by sweeping away most of the decadent European aristocracy must mean that he had some kind of vision. In some ways sadly, this was as definite as a wednesday security patch for a bad American operating system, because his version of the new century didn’t last very long.

Martin Bril’s book is a collection of columns about Napolean that he wrote for various news papers. He calls the subject his passion, which is made evident by the way he writes about him, but I can’t figure out why exactly Bril holds Napoleon in such high regard. Bril mostly lists Napoleon’s deficiencies and forgets to write about his allegedly brillant strategic insights and barely describes the way he introduced standards in Europe that still hold today.

The book is easily readable (except for a couple of untranslated citations in French) and Bril tells a couple of illustrative anecdotes, but I fail to see the point of this book. If Napoleon is not your cup of tea, the book is uninteresting, and if he is, you probably know already anything that’s in there.

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