In midsummer 1812, Napoleon crossed over the river Niemen into Russia with the largest army hitherto assembled in European history. In September, the Grand Army, exhausted, famished, and reduced to a third of its initial size, finally reached Moscow, but the famed holy city was empty. Fires were burning and only inmates loosed from prisons and asylums roamed the streets. Citizens had already evacuated in great convoys, taking with them all the provisions and as many belongings as they could transport, including the fire engines.
For the next five weeks, the occupying forces found themselves in a strange, suspended state, conquerors of a ruined city. A semblance of normalcy prevailed - Napoleon's staff jockeyed for position; a stranded French theatrical troupe performed in the Kremlin; Stendhal, a foot soldier in the Army, recalled Nero's fire in Rome, and as winter drew near Napoleon waited for Tsar Alexander to return and sue for peace.
Filled with horrific human suffering and almost indescribably scenes of carnage, The Retreat is a vivid and memorable depiction of the Russian campaign, and an unblinking look at the capacity of those in extreme adversity, and of what men, when called upon, can survive.
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The retreatUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
This sequel to the prize-winning The Battle follows the fortunes of Napoleon's army from its entry into Moscow in 1812, with three-quarters of the troops already missing, through a disastrous winter ... Read full review