Books interview with Michael Broers: “You don’t have to make up myths about Napoleon’s youth – just look at his letters to see evidence that he was a great leader”

Michael Broers talks to Matt Elton about the first part of his new biography of Napoleon, which covers the years from 1769 to 1805 and draws upon a newly published set of his correspondence

A portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte, c1796. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

This article was first published in the March 2014 issue of BBC History Magazine 

You’ve written about Napoleon before. What inspired this new book?

The main thing was the publication of a new edition of his correspondence by the Fondation Napoléon in Paris, which offers us a completely new source for the man’s life. The first edition of Napoleon’s correspondence was produced in the 1850s and 1860s by his nephew, Napoleon III. So that was an official version, a bit as if Teddy Kennedy had edited the memoirs of John Kennedy: the word ‘Monroe’ wouldn’t crop up once.

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