Thursday, November 29, 2012

Author Interview on Napoleon and the Art of Diplomacy with Savas Beatie

Napoleon and the Art of Diplomacy fills a gaping hole in Napoleonic literature by providing a vital and often neglected dimension that allows readers to fully understand one of history’s most intriguing, complex, and powerful leaders. William Nester recently discussed his upcoming book with publisher Savas Beatie LLC.

: Why did you decide to write a book about Napoleon?

WRN: I’ve been fascinated with Napoleon since I was a boy. I began writing books on various aspects of international relations and war back in the late 1980s. So far I have twenty-five published books. About half of my books deal with more recent subjects and the other half take place in the eighteenth or early nineteenth century. Given my interest in Napoleon, writing a book on him was inevitable sooner or later.

: What makes your book unique from other books about Napoleon?

WRN: Napoleon-related books could fill a small library. Yet my book is the first ever to explore Napoleon and the Art of Diplomacy. Warriors are not generally known for their diplomatic skills and Napoleon Bonaparte was no exception. Conquerors are accustomed to imposing rather than negotiating terms. Yet for Napoleon, the arts of war and diplomacy meshed. Indeed Napoleon was often just as brilliant and successful at diplomacy as he was at war. And at times he could also be as disastrous at the diplomatic table as he was on the battlefield.

: What are some features of Napoleon and the Art of Diplomacy that you think readers will really enjoy?

WRN: I tried to write Napoleon and the Art of Diplomacy so that it would be as vividly written as it was scholarly and comprehensive. Readers may be surprised by dimensions of Napoleon’s character and behavior that they might not have known about before, and think about those aspects of his life and times that they are familiar with in new ways.

: What do you hope readers will gain from reading Napoleon and the Art of Diplomacy?

WRN: Like any author I hope that my readers will enjoy an entertaining and insightful exploration of the subject.

: What was your approach to writing Napoleon and the Art of Diplomacy?

WRN: Writing about Napoleon was the culmination of four decades studying and thinking about him.

: Where did you conduct your research on the book?

WRN: I spent an idyllic summer in Paris with a half dozen hours most days at the Napoleon Foundation, National Archives, or some other research site which gave my most of my afternoons and evenings to enjoying the full spectrums of pleasures that wonderful city provides. Then I traveled for a couple of months elsewhere in France and other European countries to visit various archives, museum, and battlefields, along with great restaurants and historic inns.

: Why was Napoleon's diplomatic career so successful?

WRN: For years, Napoleon was as brilliant at diplomacy as he was at war until his hubris overwhelmed him. The result was a tragedy for himself and millions of others on a scale so profound and vast that Sophocles or Shakespeare would have undoubtedly loved to have explored it in their dramas.

: Thank you for your time, we appreciate it.

WRN: You’re welcome.

(All copyright laws apply to this interview. However, this interview may be posted digitally on the internet or printed for use in newspapers, newsletters, magazines, and other similar uses, provided it appears in its entirety, and that notice of its use is provided in advance to We also allow partial edited use, with advance permission. Please inquire. Include our website and email address with use. Thank you.)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Read an excerpt!

Making the best, worst, or, almost universally, some mix of good and bad choices that define oneself over a lifetime is something everyone does. Yet those who actually deeply understand themselves are rare. Doing so requires the learning and application of both will and skill; most people lack the inclination and time to do so. Instead, most people create a persona or mask that they present not just to the world but to themselves. They fervently believe that persona—composed of a handful of genuine characteristics distorted by wishes and fears—is their true self. But it is merely a caricature that shields them from the much more complex, ambiguous, and evolving self that they really are.

Which brings us to Napoleon Bonaparte. As he rose through the ranks of first military and then political power, the choices he made affected the lives of ever more people. In exile on Saint Helena, his dictated memoirs are filled with justifications, celebrations, and regrets for the choices he made.

So, just who was Napoleon? How did he get to be the way he was? How did he change over time? And how did all that affect his diplomacy?

Napoleon Bonaparte was among those individuals who eventually adopted an ever more obsessively clear vision of who he thought he was and what more he might become. He believed that he was a child of “destiny,” that somehow, for unknown and mysterious reasons, he was destined to do great things. That
belief animated his reactions to a succession of astonishing opportunities that arose before him throughout most of his life.

Read the full excerpt here.

Thursday, November 1, 2012