Book Review: Napoleon in 100 Objects by Gareth Glover

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author and/or publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own]

This is a very interesting book that takes a look at the life of Napoleon Bonaparte through using 100 objects contemporary to his life to tell the story.  It is an interesting concept and one that the author does a generally very good job at.

The numbers, the book is not divided into contemporary chapters, instead there are 100, I will call them micro chapters, for each object.  There is 282 pages of text and a 7-page index.

The objects in the book are presented chronologically in order of the life of Napoleon. The first object is the house in which he was born to the last object, his sarcophagus in Paris.  Each object has a photo of the object and then a short biographical sketch of how the object is relevant to Napoleon’s life.  The sketches are all well written and concise providing relevant information in an easy to read manner that is accessible to both the scholar and the layman.

All the objects are interesting and the only real complaint I have is that some of the objects are almost ignored in the narrative that accompanies them and often the photos of the objects themselves are not captioned.  The biography of Napoleon is excellent but some of the objects seem to be included just so the author can get to 100.  An example of this is #56: French Cuirass showing a Bullet Strike; there is a picture of the object and the accompanying text describes the Eylau Campaign of 1807 but the picture is not captioned and there is zero discussion of the object itself and it’s provenance.  There are several other objects within the text that receive essentially the same treatment.

Complaint aside, this is a very good book with an interesting text and an entertaining method of presenting a biography.  I highly recommend this for anyone interested in the life and times of Napoleon.