Maureen-Meekins-Penguin-Mystery-Staff-Picks

 

 

Maureen is the Academic and Library Marketing Coordinator. When Maureen isn’t reading a book or…wait, let’s face it, Maureen is always reading a book.

 

 

 

 

 

in-the-woods-by-tana-french

 

In the Woods by Tana French

Ah memories. This is the first Tana French book I picked up but, obviously, not my last. Not only is this book dark and suspenseful but, it has that unhappy European ending too! I LOVE unhappy European endings. I picked this book up, I didn’t put it down until I was done and, when I was done, I was so angry and disappointed with the way things went down. It was perfect! Not everything always goes the way you plan and Tana is a master of realistic mystery and suspense. In the Woods is by far my favorite of the Dublin Murder Squad series.

 

the-last-four-days-of-paddy-buckley-by-jeremy-massey

 

The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley by Jeremy Massey

Undertakers, sex, people dying while having sex, and the Irish mob. Who could ask for anything more? I read this book from start to finish in…let’s say…about 7 hours. 7 HOURS! And I had things to do that day! I was hooked from the beginning and even got to learn a bit about how to embalm a dead body! I haven’t fact checked yet but I think Jeremy Massey knows what he’s talking about since he really is a third-generation undertaker. HIGHLY recommended.

 

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The Alphabet House by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Being somewhat of a WWII buff, I was immediately drawn to this book. It takes us on quite the adventure in Germany during WWII where two British pilots are shot down on enemy territory and, in order to survive, they throw two wounded SS soldiers off a train and take their place. Cut to: Alphabet House. A loony bin for traumatized and wounded SS Soldiers. I was on edge throughout this entire book just waiting for these guys to get caught. Two British soldiers surrounded by SS Soldiers and they can hardly even pronounce their fake names. Good luck, right?

 

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Syndrome E by Frnck Thilliez

Clearly you can tell I love European authors and Franck Thilliez gets all the love. I read 10 pages of this book and had no idea what was going on. There was so much science jargon about eyeballs I felt like I was learning how to speak another language. But, I pushed on through the next 4 pages and WHAM! I was hooked. I was now becoming an expert on eyeballs, subliminal messages, and the psyche of freaky children. I read and read and read until it was over and Thilliez has now made my favorite author list (It’s a long list, yes, but I’m very particular).

 

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The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood

Alex Marwood is an Edgar Award winning author because of this book and I know why. The first things about this book that got me were the writing and the flow of the story…Marwood is a genius! Continue on to the story itself and you can’t help but be fascinated. The Wicked Girls is dark and disturbing and seriously makes you question humanity and the innocence of children. Some children are just plain wicked.

 

 

 

Find more books on the Mystery & Suspense page!

See Staff Picks for all our categories!


Andrea-Lam-Penguin-Classics-Staff-Picks

 

 

Andrea Lam is a Publicity Assistant at Viking / Penguin Books / Penguin Classics, where she is the in-house champion for tall ships, world mythology and folklore, and Anne Brontë.

 

 

 

 

north-and-south-by-elizabeth-gaskellNorth and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell is one of my favorite Victorian novelists, and North and South is easily my favorite of her novels. Gaskell wrote candidly and compassionately about class differences in British society, particularly as they applied to the heavily industrial North of England. In North and South, Southern Margaret Hale is forced with her family to move up to Milton-Northern (modelled after Manchester), where she comes into repeated conflict with mill owner and native Northerner John Thornton. As Milton-Northern’s mill workers increasingly agitate for rights, Margaret and John must come to an understanding both personally and politically, but their path is far from smooth. A bonus: the 2004 BBC series based on the novel is a wonderful adaptation, and I recommend both to just about anyone who will stand still long enough to listen.

 

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Spunyarn by John Masefield

I usually credit my deep love for tall ships and the Age of Sail to having read the entire 20-book Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian when I was twelve years old, but I’m sure that I encountered John Masefield’s poetry some time before then. Though I know intellectually that I’d not survive the physical toil of daily life on a merchant mariner or naval warship, Masefield’s ‘Sea-Fever’ makes me long for the far-ranging view from the bow of a ship running free, and moves me like few other poems do each time I read it.

 

 

 

the-turnip-princess-and-other-newly-discovered-fairy-tales-by-franz-xaver-von-schonwerthThe Turnip Princess by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth and translated by Maria Tatar

I’ve been passionate about world mythology and folklore since I was very young, and when I read the news in 2012 that a cache of previously unseen German fairy tales had been discovered, I jumped to follow the story. Imagine my surprise two years later when, shortly after I started working for Penguin, I learned that not only was Penguin Classics publishing a selection of Franz Xaver von Schönwerth’s tales, the tales were to be translated by the inimitable Maria Tatar! I’ve long admired Tatar’s scholarship, and I’m so pleased that her translation of Schönwerth’s tales are now available to the reading public and fellow fairy tale enthusiasts like myself.

 

passing-by-nella-larsenPassing by Nella Larsen

Nella Larsen’s short novel Passing is a poignant, painful exploration of race and racism in the Harlem Renaissance that deals with issues of racial identity formation, cultural assimilation, and self-presentation. Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry’s respective struggles with life as mixed-race women in a racist, male-dominated society still ring true today. Larsen’s other novel Quicksand, published a year before Passing, deals with related issues and is also well worth reading.

 

 

 

the-tenant-of-wildfell-hall-by-anne-bronteThe Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

Jane and Emily are both well and good, but Anne is my favorite of the Brontë sisters and—I feel—the most under appreciated. Anne published only two novels, the other being Agnes Grey, and in both her straightforward depiction of casual male chauvinism stands in contrast to that of her sisters’ in Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. For readers accustomed to the exploits of Edward Rochester and Heathcliff, Tenant’s Arthur Huntingdon may come as a shock. Given that popular culture through history has a deleterious tendency to gloss over abusive behavior, I appreciate Anne Brontë’s refusal to do the same.

 

 

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The Penguin Book of Witches edited by Katherine Howe

If you thought you know about witches, think again. The Penguin Book of Witches is a well-selected collection of historical accounts (all primary-source documents) of accused witches and witch-hunters in North America and England that ably demonstrates that the history of witches is the history of legalized persecution of marginalized groups. Katherine Howe’s explanatory essays and notes are both intelligent and accessible, and help to contextualize the varying time periods in which the documents were written. Witches are a popular trope in fiction for good reason, and The Penguin Book of Witches is a great look at the history behind the fiction.

 

Find more books on the Penguin Classics page!

See Staff Picks for all our categories!


Catherine-Hayden-Penguin-YR-Staff-Picks

 

Catherine Hayden is a Marketing Coordinator for the School and Library department. She has a passion for bookstores and libraries that borders on obsession. When she’s not working or looking at books, she can often be found playing in a grown-up dodgeball league, doting on her nephews, taking in New York City, and saying hi to every dog she passes on the sidewalk.

 

 

 

Extraordinary-Jane-by -Hannah-E-Harrison

Extraordinary Jane by Hannah E. Harrison

This is the book that I give to every child (and some adults) in my life and it’s impossible not to fall in love with. Jane is a circus dog who wants to be extraordinary like her strong, elephant lifting father and her fearless tightrope walking sisters. What she finds, after many mishaps is that she doesn’t have to be extraordinary to be special. Hannah E. Harrison’s illustrations are simply gorgeous and bursting with charm and whimsy. The story is funny yet cozy and comforting for little ones and I guarantee they will want to read it over and over again.

 

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The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

The Day the Crayons Quit is laugh out loud hilarious. It tells the story of a little boys box of crayons who are fed up with their jobs, so they quit! Each page features a different letter from an irate crayon listing it’s reasons for quitting. Red crayon feels over worked while white crayon feels like he’s not being used at all and yellow and orange crayon are downright feuding! Each letter comes with hilarious illustrations of indignant crayons and pictures they are forced to draw. The books satisfying conclusion will have kids seeing their box of crayons in an entirely new light!

Roller-Girl-by-Victoria-Jamieson

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

I am a sucker for a good graphic novel and this one is pure fun! Astrid is 12 years old and devastated when she finds out that her best friend Nicole, with whom she does everything, has chosen to take ballet rather than attend roller derby camp together. Now Astrid has to navigate roller derby camp, and all of the bumps and bruises that come with it, completely alone. This book perfectly encapsulates what it is to be an awkward adolescent and the ups and downs of friendship. Astrid’s imperfections, and the growth that comes from overcoming them, make her an incredibly relatable character for young girls and boys alike who will completely understand her pains and triumphs.

 

The-Wrath-and-The-Dawn-by-Renee-Ahdieh

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

As a lover of the classics, I was intrigued when I found out we were publishing a book inspired by A Thousand and One Nights. Every night a murderous boy-king takes a new bride and every morning at dawn he kills her. This reign of terror continues until a young woman named Shahrzad, vowing to avenge her best friend, offers herself up willingly. All she needs to do is stay alive long enough to kill the king. This book is so lush and every character brings their own depth and fascinating backstory to the plot. I cannot wait for the sequel!

 

 

 

between-shades-of-gray-by-ruta-sepetysBetween Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepeteys

Honestly, Ruta Sepeteys could probably write a grocery list and I would be captivated but I recommend her debut Between Shades of Gray first. It has been a few years since I first read this book but I still can’t get it out of my head. It follows a fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl during WWII after Soviet officers invade her home, separate her father and force her, her brother, and her mother onto a crowded train to a Siberian work camp. The entire story is at once hopeful and devastating and a testament to incredible storytelling. It opened my eyes to a part of history that I knew very little about and yet is incredibly important. I think everyone should read this one.

 

 

Find more books on the Young Readers page.

See Staff Picks for all our categories!


IMG_0918A couple years ago, I asked Patricia Briggs to write a novella for our anthology On the Prowl. We wanted something either about Mercy Thompson, the car mechanic coyote shifter heroine of her urban fantasy series, or set in Mercy’s world. But when she said, “I think I’m going to write about Charles,” it took me a moment to place Samuel Cornick’s half-brother, a werewolf of few words who makes a brief appearance in Moon Called.

Well, after reading “Alpha and Omega”, I never forgot who Charles was again. In fact, I fell so in love with him and his mate, the werewolf Anna Latham, that I asked Patty if she would want to write more stories about Charles and Anna. And thus, the Alpha and Omega series was born–an action-packed urban fantasy series that is also the heartfelt story of Charles and Anna’s relationship.

With Charles’s role as his father’s enforcer, they tend to be trouble shooters, called in to deal with problems, and rarely catch a break. In Dead Heat, Charles and Anna travel to Arizona for personal reasons…or at least it starts out that way. Soon, they find themselves in the middle of a whole lot of trouble. The cold war between the fae and humanity is about to heat up, and the werewolves may have to choose which side they’re on.

I freely admit that I have a thing for werewolves. The pack structure, the human / animal dichotomy…it’s a concept that that is ripe for storytelling. And Patricia Briggs writes some of my absolutely favorite werewolves, who may be able to change their shape, but are always human.

Dead-Heat-Patricia-BriggsIt’s a pleasure to share Dead Heat with you, and I hope you fall in love with Charles and Anna the way I have.

Explore the Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs!


Tim Dowling, author of How-to-be-a-Husband-Tim-DowlingHow to be a Husband shares his suggestions on what Husbands should be reading this Valentine’s Day!

For the most part my experience of being a husband cycles around repeated failures to measure up, followed by sincere attempts to address these failings and to fail better next time, starting with my whole approach to recently used towels. The secret of being a good husband, I find, is taking the time to point out to one’s wife that she could, in fact, do a whole lot worse. That, in part,  is what the following books can do for you. Read them first to make sure you are actually a better husband than the ones featured, and discard from the pile as necessary.

 

Babbitt-Sinclair-Lewis

Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis

I was first made to read this in high school, at a time when this savage portrait of the morally bankrupt of George F. Babbit, family man and establishment stooge, didn’t mean much to me. Obviously I get it now. And how.

 

Revolutionary-Road-Richard-Yates

 

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

As bleak a portrayal of married existence as you’re likely to encounter, although when I saw the movie I came over all nostalgic because they’d so faithfully recreated the suburban Connecticut of my childhood. I kept wanting to shout, “It doesn’t have to be this way! Get some ice cream! Play some tennis!” I had a similar problem with The Ice Storm.

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Abbott Awaits by Chris Bachelder

An extraordinary book: funny, dark, often transcendent. It charts tiny, in-between moments – through a series of very short chapters  – in the life of Abbott, a college teacher with a small child, a pregnant wife and a tenuous grip on the point of it all. If you’re married with kids he will remind you, often painfully, of you. Fortunately this sort of book isn’t my wife’s cup of tea at all.

The-Wife-Meg-Wolitzer

 

The Wife by Meg Wollitzer

A look at marriage from the other perspective, that of the long-suffering wife of a celebrated author. It’s not a happy prospect – she’s planning to leave him on page 1 – but how it makes you feel about your own record as a husband will probably depend on your personality. I was heartened and chilled by turns.

The-Diary-of-a-Nobody

 

The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith

Charles Pooter, the suburban householder diarist of the title, is such a byword for a certain kind of unknowing self-importance that in Britain he’s an adjective: pooterish. Although it was written in the late 19th century, this comic masterpiece remains a great key to understanding the English, their humour and their preoccupations. I re-read it often, and each time it makes a little more sense.

Mr-Bridge-Even-Connell

 

Mr Bridge, by Evan S. Connell.

This chronicle of a distant, repressed husband living between the wars in Kansas City came out a full 10 years after Connell’s debut novel, Mrs Bridge, which covers the same ground but with the wife as the protagonist. The two books were later amalgamated and adapted for the screen as Mr and Mrs Bridge. They’re both great, but if you’re a husband this is the one that will keep you up nights.


photoIt was during the ambiguous time before the impending holiday office closure that I first heard about Watch Me Go by Mark Wisniewski. I was at a holiday party, in fact, standing in a small circle chatting with friends when I was introduced to a new face—a literary agent who, as it turned out, was someone I’d for months been trying to schedule lunch. How serendipitous. We made small talk about holiday plans and promised to see each other in the New Year. As I moved away to say hello to some other friends, he casually mentioned a novel he was getting ready to send out. Would I be interested in seeing it? His pitch was The Wire meets Winters Bone. How could I say no?

The next morning my inbox greeted me with an email containing the promised manuscript. I began reading that day and was hooked within the first five pages. Very early on in Watch Me Go, the reader learns about a sealed oil drum whose contents weigh enough and smell bad enough to contain a human corpse. One of our main characters, Deesh, is headed with two buddies up the New York State Thruway, far north of their Bronx hometown, to take on a seemingly standard junk-hauling job—to dispose of this oil drum. It’s only after they collect their $1,000 and dump the drum in an empty field that they begin to suspect there may have been a dead body inside that steel barrel. It’s from there that Deesh’s life begins to spiral out of control: After a fatal confrontation with a police officer, he’s on the run, the prime suspect of two homicides.

As I turned the figurative pages of my old e-reader, I realized that I’d read only a hundred pages. I was barely knee deep into Deesh’s heart-pounding story and I already had that exhilarating feeling that this was one I had to have. This bold, gritty novel really got me! When it comes to fiction, I look for books that will make you forget what you’re doing—whether it’s because of the beautiful writing, the power of the story, or the lasting impact of the characters, and in a perfect world it’s all three of these. So by the time I got to the end of Watch Me Go the following morning, I knew I’d just read a novel that brilliantly mixed all the elements the best fiction is made of. Watch Me Go perfectly blends suspense, family drama, and love story, while movingly speaking to today’s important issues like racism and social inequality.

WatchMeGoIt didn’t hurt that Mark Wisniewski is a Pushcart prize, Tobias Wolff Award-winning writer who’s been in the literary scene for decades. After an unforgettable initial conversation with Mark, I learned that the genesis for Watch Me Go was a short story he wrote a few years back that received such amazing praise, Salman Rushdie chose it for 2008 Best American Short Stories, calling it “irresistible.” I sure couldn’t resist Watch Me Go and I bet you can’t either!

 

 

Watch Me Go is an edgy, soulful meditation on the meaning of love, the injustices of hate, and the power of hope.

Start Reading an Excerpt from Watch Me Go!


Editor's desk photoOne of the greatest pleasures of my editorial career was introducing Mark Greaney to Tom Clancy. I knew that Tom needed a new co-author, and I was absolutely sure that Mark was the best fit. He is a dedicated researcher, brilliant writer and, not incidentally, a huge Clancy fan. I knew they would be a good match both professionally and personally. Indeed, they hit it off so well at their first face to face meeting that what was supposed to be a short meet and greet turned into a three hour conversation.

Their pairing led to three #1 New York Times bestselling novels. Rarely have I been this right about something. (Just ask my wife and kids).

So when, after Tom’s untimely passing, his family decided to continue the Jack Ryan saga, I knew that Mark was the right man for the job. While I had faith in him, I recognized that this was a daunting task. It’s one thing to work with the master, but striking out on your own with a character as iconic as Jack Ryan is a formidable challenge.

Once again, I’ve been proven correct (Take that wife and kids!). Full Force and Effect is a worthy successor to Tom’s own books. It’s a sprawling story of international intrigue with plenty of high tech action and a shockingly personal twist.

A new young leader has arisen in North Korea. Like his predecessors he plans to build his nation’s nuclear program, but unlike them he has an edge. A recent discovery of mineral wealth has given the Hermit Kingdom the money it needs to accelerate those efforts. In the Oval Office, President Jack Ryan recognizes both the danger posed by a nuclear armed Korea and the limits of his ability to respond without adequate intelligence. But how does one place an agent in the most closed society on Earth?

FullForce&EffectWe may have started this project with some trepidation, but Mark Greaney has more than risen to the challenge. His great respect for the classic characters of Tom Clancy shines through in this mesmerizing thriller. It’s my absolute pleasure to share it with you.


ZODIAC_EditorsDeskPhotoEvery morning at seven on the dot, an astrology website sends me an automated email containing my daily horoscope. Rare are the days when my fortune doesn’t begin with a caveat reminding me that, as a Sagittarius, I’m “known for [my] outspoken views and habit of saying exactly what’s on [my] mind,” or that I’m “the one who normally tells it like it is, regardless of others’ sensitivities,” or that “truth arrows are [my] negotiating tools.”

Well, I’d like to think that I’m more conscientious and have better self-control than my team of Internet astrologers seems to suggest, but when it comes to Zodiac by Romina Russell, I can’t help but be blunt. So, here’s a truth arrow for you:  Zodiac is breathtaking. And its debut author, Romina Russell, is a force to be reckoned with. The first novel in an epic YA series that reimagines the twelve zodiac signs as a galaxy divided into twelve distinct solar systems, Zodiac takes everything I love about astrology–the fun personality tidbits and dishy discussions about good fortune, bad omens, and romantic pairings both heaven-sent and disastrous–and marries it to thrilling sci-fi suspense and drama of big-screen blockbuster proportions. Add a quirky, charismatic cast of characters who hail from gleaming courts of Libra to the hot and happening streets of Aries, a mystifying villain, and a crazy-swoon-worthy yet completely out-of-the-box love story, and I’m in the biggest, coziest wingchair in Editor’s Heaven.

There’s so much that I, an unabashed astrology nerd with a weakness for adventures set in space, love about the Zodiac concept, but my favorite aspect of Romina’s stellar debut has got to be its heroine: the complex, compassionate, and exquisitely fallible Rho, a sixteen-year-old Acolyte from House Cancer. Rho has an unusual way of reading the stars–instead of calculating their positions to make practical predictions about her world, she looks to them the way a poet might, weaving stories out of the swishes of comet tails and using stardust patterns and pulsars to tell fortunes for her friends.

A true representative of House Cancer, which embodies such traits as nurturing, intuition, and loyalty, Rho thinks with her heart and acts from love. She’s a generous and open-minded friend (her bestie is an outgoing firecracker from House Sagittarius), and would do anything to help her home and her people. Still, softie though she is, Rho harbors haunting memories of a childhood marred by the sudden and unexplained departure of her mother. So instead of wearing her heart on her sleeve like the rest of her kind, she’s formed a shell to protect her sensitive soul–just like the Crab that rules her constellation. But when the exiled 13th Guardian of Zodiac legend returns to exact revenge on the Galaxy, the stars call upon Rho to lead House Cancer, and our girl rises to the occasion, hunting down evil with passion rather than wrath; instinct instead of instruction manuals. And guess what? In the end, she messes up. She messes up big time, and boy are there are consequences, and if I were to say more I would need to insert a big red SPOILER ALERT right about here. All I can say is that that Rho–a naïve and fallible dreamer from the most conflict-averse constellation in the Galaxy–is not your average heroine.

And then there is Romina. Romina and I actually first met as undergrads at Harvard, in a huge lecture class that may as well have been called “Math for English Majors,” back when Zodiac was still just one tiny twinkle in the constellation of Great Novel Ideas. Out of the couple hundred kids in that class, Romina–an infectiously charming and completely adorable young woman with a big smile and a razor-sharp wit–was randomly assigned to be my partner for a final group research project. We instantly hit it off, and it didn’t take long to decide on the irresistibly juicy human interest topic of Trends in Online Dating. And it turned out, we made a great team. Romina, a meticulous and ultra-organized Virgo, was the yin to my shoot-from-the-hip, incurably optimistic Sagittarian yang, and as we spent hours together interviewing couples, recording their personality types and measuring their predicted compatibility scores against their actual compatibility scores, a beautiful friendship was born.

ZodiacSeveral years later, a beautiful book was born. Romina presented me, armed as always with my quiver of truth arrows, with a stunning story about a girl from the galaxy of my dreams. And then something in the universe just clicked.

Start Reading an excerpt from Zodiac by Romina Russell!


SONY DSCAs an editor and a reader there’s nothing I love more than a book that gives me a true emotional experience. Often, that experience is laughter. I work on a lot of humor books, and people tell me all the time that the books I work on make them laugh. But Brooke Shields’s book, There Was a Little Girl, was the first book I’ve edited that made me cry – and not just once!

From the moment I learned Brooke wanted to write this book I knew it was going to be powerful. Her mother was a fascinating, controversial figure, and I’d already read about and was intrigued by her life story. But when Brooke came in to meet with us and told us about her experience of growing up with Teri Shields and all of their ups and downs – as well as the painful experience of letting her mother go in October 2012 – I just couldn’t believe how touching, and relatable the story was. No one in the world has had a life like Brooke’s, but the experiences and emotions she’s had are truly 100% relatable to anyone who has ever loved (and lost) a parent.

ThereWasALittleGirlBrooke and I worked together on the manuscript for the next nine months – an amount of time we both noted! – and it was an incredible experience. Brooke wrote the whole book herself, just as she did when she wrote Down Came the Rain, and her voice and emotions come through on every page. There are moments of incredible humor, but so many lines still choke me up and have literally moved me to tears. As both a daughter and a soon-to-be mother, this book has truly touched me in so many ways, and taught me so much about the power of love, even when it isn’t easy. I couldn’t be more excited to share Brooke and Teri’s story with the world!


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I haven’t had many proposals cross my desk in my twenty years as an editor which I felt I was born to edit, but my heart skipped a beat when Andrew Roberts’ agent called to tell me he wanted to write a big, meaty new biography of Napoleon. Now truth be told I have been hunting for a good book on Napoleon for a long time. I’ve bought several (from bookstores), and they’ve generally left me filled with rage – the options seemed to be Freudian psychobabble or ranting indictment: if you take your cue from recent releases you’d think he was a frothing tyrant with blood on his britches. But the truth, as Andrew Roberts reveals in this magnificent biography that draws on a stupendously rich new cash of Napoleon’s letters (33,000 – and those are the ones that have survived, just think what he might have done in the age of email) is altogether more riveting. Napoleon was one of the giants of history. He was an inveterate bookworm who steeped himself in the writings of Caesar and modeled himself on him too, though he also gobbled up Rousseau and Voltaire and the great thinkers of the enlightenment, much like our own founding fathers. I came away from this book thinking that Napoleon was like Washington, Jefferson and Madison rolled into one: he was the visionary general who led France to victory in the series of wars that followed the French revolution (we were lucky not to have angry monarchs on all sides determined to overturn our revolution); he was an erudite intellectual and reformer like Jefferson who drew artists and scientists around him, introduced the metric system and set up the Louvre and France’s still stellar system of grandes ecoles and universities; and he was a state-builder like Madison who drafted a whole new set of laws and established the French national bank.

napoleon

Now for full disclosure my great great great grandfather on my father’s side was a colonel who fought for Napoleon and a true believer. Napoleon was a meritocratic, which may seem counter-intuitive for a man who crowned himself emperor. But he believed that if you gave people a sense that they were participating in something larger than themselves, they would live up to the moment and surpass your expectations. He was a great leader of men, and I was struck as I worked on the manuscript that modern business leaders would find much in his practice and philosophy to learn from. He was also an unbelievable romantic and his love letters to Josephine are worthy of a harlequin romance. It is true that in the end, in his campaigns in Spain and Russia, he made mistakes that cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of men. But war is a messy business with many unintended consequences, as we have learned ourselves recently (not for the first time). Andrew Roberts is the biographer Napoleon has been waiting for – he writes like a dream and appreciates his (many) jokes.  And no one is better at telling the story of a battle so that you feel you are right there in the saddle, dodging canon fire and charging into the fray. But you don’t have to be a military history buff to love this book – I’m not particularly, and I can’t wait to go back to the beginning and read it all over again.

 

Read more about Napoleon by Andrew Roberts