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Review: War: — Napoleon's Fatal March on Moscow by Adam Zamoyski | The Sunday Times

Please provide an email address. In this gripping, authoritative account, Adam Zamoyski has drawn on the latest Russian research, as well as a vast pool of firsthand accounts in French, Russian, German, Polish, and Italian, to paint a vivid picture of the experiences of soldiers and civilians on both sides of the conflict.

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He shows how the relationship between Napoleon and Tsar Alexander came to distort their alliance and bring about a war that neither man wanted. Dramatic, insightful, and enormously absorbing, Moscow is a masterful work of history. Adam Zamoyski was born in New York and educated at Oxford.

He is the author of Moscow He lives in London.

Moscow 1812: Napoleon's Fatal March

Moscow : Napoleon's Fatal March. The author also provides a handy guide to how the Continental System began to unravel, and also makes clear how important the whole Polish question was in the equation, something which is often overlooked. Also included in these preliminary chapters is an analysis of the Grande Armee, its strengths and shortcomings, how it had been diluted by attrition and campaigning, and also afflicted by corruption and decadence. The logistics of the invasion, when set out in their constituent parts, are staggering to contemplate in their intricacy and scale, when we consider that this was a pre-mechanization, pre-motorisation era.

It is also sobering to think that these daunting logistics to a large degree envisaged a short war The elements of this book which I found most enlightening were those which addressed the infighting and tensions within Russian society and its "establishment", and how they affected the course of the campaign.

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Of the generals, Barclay de Tolly appeared to be largely vindicated in his approach, despite the vitriol aimed at him by many. Even after being "sacrificed", he continued to make astute observations.


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The portrayal of Kutuzov here is also intriguing. For all his "inspirational" and galvanizing qualities, and his symbolic value, he seems to have been an equivocal influence on matters. The course of the conflict appeared to unfold despite rather than because of his conscious decisions.


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Indeed, some of the most favourable developments, from a Russian standpoint, occurred because they suppressed the urge to do what their instincts told them to.