A little more than a week ago, I finished reading this wonderful book, which aptly sums up Napoleon's reign.
Here was a man who bestrode Europe like a Colossus. Napoleon was a representation of a shift in the governing order whose rule was once largely regarded as a matter of divine right. Though no believer in democracy (as exemplified by Britain), he supported and nurtured people of proven talent both in the military and civilian spheres.
Yet notwithstanding his considerable talents and intellect, it was Napoleon's own egotism and the seemingly unending years of war from 1803 to 1815 that led to his own undoing.
I confess I felt deeply sympathetic about Napoleon in his later years (in particular, the post-Waterloo era when he was exiled on St. Helena island, where he was treated rather shabbily by the British governor there). At his best, he was a master military commander on both the strategic and tactical levels. I find him endlessly fascinating.