Lecture 7 - Napoleon

author: John Merriman, Department of History, Yale University
recorded by: Yale University
published: April 16, 2010,   recorded: September 2008,   views: 4140
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)
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Description

One way of understanding Napoleon's life is through attention to his Corsican origins. Although Napoleon himself would later disavow his earlier identification with the island in favor of French identity, many of his actions and attitudes agree with stereotypical notions of Corsican culture. Did Napoleon inaugurate the era of total war? This question, posed in a recent book, is up for debate. On one hand, the violence of the Revolution and the Napoleonic wars may not seem uniquely devastating in comparison to the ravages of the Thirty Years' War. On the other hand, the faltering of distinctions between civilian and combatant as well as the large-scale mobilization of state resources for war do anticipate the modern concept of total war, typically associated with World War II.

Reading assignment:

Merriman, John. A History of Modern Europe: From the Renaissance to the Present, pp. 517-552

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