Moscow 1812 (Zamoyski): Napoleon's Fatal March

Not open for further replies.


Puritanboard Amanuensis
This book explores the causes, circumstances, and aftermath of Napoleon’s disastrous invasion of Russia. Overall, the author did an admirable job describing the Russian invasion. He was able to get into the lives of the soldiers remarkably well. One of his themes is that Napoleon was not really defeated by Marshall Kutuzov. Zamoyski follows the thesis that the Russian weather destroyed Napoleon.

Zamoisky scores some points in outlining Napoleon’s dream of a unified Europe focused around Catholic France. While Z. doesn’t follow through with it, this is essentially to understanding the eschatology of Revolution and Empire, which saw its culmination in Napoleon (Incidentally, this is also the vision of elitists in Europe and America today). Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, while obviously problematic at first glance, is certainly understandable. Napoleon was worried that “these Northern barbarians” were going to determine Europe’s political future. Napoleon just wanted Russia weakened, certainly not annexed. He didn’t even need them weakened, but merely to act as a counter to England. It was Tsar Alexander’s refusal to admit he was beaten that defeated Napoleon.

Zamoisky’s main argument is that Napoleon destroyed himself by continually pursuing a retreating Kutuzov. Kutuzov was not trying to lure Napoleon into a trap: he was running for his life and usually did not know what to do. Napoleon’s fatal move was not so much the invasion itself but his occupation of Moscow. This forced his exit of Russia to happen in the worst winter in history (-30 degrees). His army necessarily disintegrated.

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
I can't remember. I think it is, or at least from a French Newspapers. I can't imagine an academic like Zamoyski saying it and getting away with it (unless he worked for CNN).
I just looked it up, and it appears that it comes from Napoleon's writings from St. Helena.

May 1817

"A hundred years hence," he says, "I shall be praised, and Europe, especially England, will lament that I did not succeed." He then warns, "When they see the finest countries in Europe overrun and a prey to those northern barbarians, they will say, 'Napoleon was right.'"
Not open for further replies.