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.
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