Emil Ludwig’s biography of Napoleon, published in 1926, continues its remarkable presence as a classic of Napoleonic literature and has yet to be surpassed for its unique presentation. Writing in the present tense, Ludwig brings to life his subject’s character better than any other biography of Napoleon.
The biography is divided into five books One, “The Island” (birth to marriage); Two, “The Torrent” (Army of Italy to First Counsel); Three, “The River” (Marengo to birth of Napoleon II); Four, “The Sea” (Russia to Waterloo); and Five, “The Rock” (St. Helena). Each book begins with a quote from Goethe.
Although Ludwig does not include a bibliography, the concluding four pages, the “Envoy”, he states, “In this book, all the data are recorded facts, except the soliloquies.” Also, in the acknowledgments he thanked Professor Pariset and Kurt Wildhagen for advice on the book and Edouard Driault and F.M. Kircheisen for help with supplying material for the illustrations.