As I mentioned about a month ago, one of my reading vows for 2011 is to read at least a dozen research books already on my shelves, physical and virtual, before buying any more. You see, I have this jam-packed and overflowing research bookshelf that makes me feel all erudite merely by existing--until I count how many of those books are just sitting there looking pretty, never having been opened since the day I browsed through them at Powell's.
I decided to begin with Napoleon: the Final Verdict (Philip Haythornthwaite, ed., 1998). It's a set of essays by various military historians covering the course of his career.
My hands are bugging me enough tonight to keep me from going into as much detail as I'd like. (Spending 30-45 minutes per night watching TV with packs of frozen corn on my wrists and elbows obviously is helping, since skipping it last night meant more pain today.) So I'll just say I'm glad I read this book. I'm no admirer of Napoleon's, and I doubt that's going to change. My historical allegiances lie elsewhere--I carry my library books in a "Team Wellington" tote bag, even. But the book was a good reminder what an incredible mind and will Napoleon had, and that no matter how little I condone his ambitions and conquests, you've still got to shake your head in awe over how much he accomplished in so short a time.