Book Review: The Military Maxims of Napoleon


by David G. Chandler

London: Greenhill/Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole, 2. 252. Illus., append., biblio. $18.95. ISBN:1-85367-483-4

Although for more than 150 years The Military Maxims of Napoleon have been taken as the distilled wisdom of the Great Captain’s military thought, in fact, they were never actually intended as such. The Maxims were collected after Napoleon’s death from what editor David Chandler rightfully terms his obiter dicta, casual remarks, observations, or comments that were culled from a vast mass of documents, letters, and memoirs.

This edition of The Maxims has an equally unusual pedigree. It was prepared by Prof. Chandler in 1987, to update a reissue of William E. Cairnes’s 1901 edition of the original 1831 translation into English by British Lt. Gen. George C. d’Aguilar. For this edition, Prof. Chandler supplemented Cairnes’s explanatory annotations to assist the modern reader, likely to be unfamiliar with much early modern military history, including as it does references to the campaigns of Turenne, Saxe, and Montecuccoli. As a result, it is more than merely a reprint of the oft quoted adages of Napoleon, and a useful reference for anyone interested in the military life of the early modern period..

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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