Louis Napoleon and the Second Empire
An excellent one volume portrait of Napoleon III and the short-lived second French Empire which was brought to ruins by the 1870 Franco-Prussian war.
“ONCE again J. M. Thompson has given us a colorful, arresting, and interpretative account of a period of French history—this time of the Second Empire. In this instance, as in previous works, the author makes the biography of a man (Louis Napoleon) the vehicle for a history of a period, thereby infusing the warmth of a very human personality throughout the history of a complex and fateful era. Thus we follow the life of a man who followed his star of fate from youthful refugee to insurrectionist, prisoner, president, emperor, economic reformer, arbiter of a continent, prisoner-of-war, and, alas, to refugee again until death.
Nothing of the romance, the contrasts, the shaded significances is lost by the author's telling. Those who have read his French Revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte cannot fail to discern and appreciate the same trenchant pen and deft brush which restore life and odor to a much-told tale of the past. While Mr. Thompson does not attempt to conceal the faults and mistakes of the man, in the main he joins with some current revisionists in understanding (not justifying) the "crime of December 2nd" and crediting Napoleon Ili with constructive policies at home and abroad and exonerating him of the major responsibility for the outbreak of the war of 1870. The author rightly blames Bismarck and French public opinion of all classes for pushing Louis Napoleon into the war (p. 272) rather than just a small war party and the empress.”-Lynn M. Case
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