by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
In his 1978 book, Bonaparte, Correlli Barnett deconstructs Napoleon so thoroughly that it reads like a carricature of Napoleon’s critics. The great general’s victories are explained away as the results of the blunders of his opponents. Napoleon was saved time and again by the mistakes of his adversaries. Barnett does not explain how a man who never made a good decision dominated Europe for two decades. If Napoleon prevailed time and again despite his bad decisions, what was the quality of his opponents?
Barnett’s Napoleon comes across as an American neoconservative who seeks hegemony via violence and not diplomacy. Napoleon’s diplomatic incapacity lost Spain and Portugal to the English and tied down a huge French army in Spain to no effect.
The British do not like Napoleon because he, like Hitler, constituted a grave threat to Britain’s hegemony over the European continent. But Barnett goes to such length in exposing myths of Napoleon’s capabilities that it removes all the glory of Wellington’s victory at Waterloo.