Boney of contention

We must not allow history to become a sourcebook for theme park designers (Napoleon Bonapark, page 5). We make a mistake if we plunder it merely for entertainment.

If we let a figure like Napoleon – as controversial now as he was in his day – become a caricature hero we may as well forget about history offering valuable lessons.

Napoleon was many things: brilliant general, enlightened despot, dictator, megalomaniac, disseminator of humanitarian European values, genius, flawed man. It is easy to romanticise him but we should never do it in such a way that we forget the reality of the man and become incapable of distinguishing his successes from his failure. Simple he most certainly was not.

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