When I learned history in school, if I recall correctly, we learned European history up until the founding of America and then shifted to American history until World War I. Thus, we did not really learn much about Europe in the 1800s beyond the snippets we got from reading fictional stories such as A Tale of Two Cities and Les Miserables. Unfortunately, this means we miss the fascinating figure of Napoleon Bonaparte! Thankfully, if you are interested in history, Andrew Roberts’ book on Napoleon is brilliant.
I enjoyed reading it so much, I recall my blood boiling in anger and frustration as Napoleon invaded Russia. How could such a brilliant military leader make such a tactical error. The numbers were staggering – he marched with 400,000 men (if I recall correctly) and staggered back to France with about 20,000. That was the end and, I believe, there’s a lesson about pride buried in there somewhere.
Also, reading books like this helps at trivia. Shortly after finishing it, I was at a restaurant playing trivia and the question was “What was Napoleon’s last word?” Because I read the book I knew it was…
(Did you think I wasn’t going to tell you? She was his first, and beloved, wife.)