Thursday, October 25, 2012
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Napoleon’s official diplomatic career lasted nearly two decades and involved relations with scores of kings, queens, ministers, diplomats, and secret agents across Europe and beyond. All those involved asserted their respective state (and often their private) interests across the entire span of international relations in which conflicts over trade and marriage were often inseparable from war and peace. For Napoleon, war and diplomacy were indivisible and complementary for victory. Much of Napoleon’s military success was built upon a foundation of alliances and treaties.
Although not always at war, Napoleon incessantly practiced diplomacy on a steady stream of international issues. Some of his noteworthy achievements in this arena included his 1797 Treaty of Campo Formio with the Austrians after he defeated them in the Italian campaign; the 1807 Treaty of Tilsit, when he incorporated Tsar Alexander of Russia as his junior partner while France was still at war with Britain; and, the 1812 conference of Dresden, where the crowned heads of Europe allied with France as Napoleon opened his massive (and disastrous) invasion of Russia.
Nester’s masterfully researched and written Napoleon and the Art of Diplomacy fills a gaping hole in Napoleonic literature by providing a vital and heretofore neglected dimension that allows readers to fully understand one of history’s most intriguing, complex, and powerful leaders.