May 1, 2009 cameron

The Napoleon Bonaparte Podcast #52 – Alex Mikaberidze on The Russian Generals

Alexander Mikaberidze joins us again on this episode to share deep biographical details about the major Russian Generals around the war of 1812 – Kutusov, Bagration, Barclay de Tolly, Tolstoy – the men who defeated Napoleon with a highly unusual strategy.

 

 

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Comments (20)

  1. michele destarac

    I read Alan Schom’s « one Hundred days » some 12 years ago …and picked it up again a few days ago to check whether my opinion had changed. Alas! The complete partiality of this book remains appalling to me so, I decided to ask, via google the question:” Is Alan Schom anti Napoleon ?”. This is how I found your fantastic site. Thanks God! What a relief! Napoleon would not only be an ogre? Thank you very, very much. I am busy now catching up all the chapters and I enjoy it. My English (by the way, I am French –no one is perfect-) is not good enough to allow me to covey what I think as I would like to. Sorry for that .
    Your presentation besides its real interest is extremely vivid, clever, didactic, and accurate The dialogue and the digretions make the speech even more entertaining. It gives also to the audience the opportunity to relax a bit. Thank you for speaking such a clear and understandable English, so easy to follow.
    My questions are:
    Has anyone read A.Schom’s book? What was your opinion ? According to me , all the facts, all the comments all the quotes are derogative and turned against Napoleon of course, but also against his marshals, generals, even Louis XVIII…..
    Has anyone read Jean Claude Damamme’s books (I don’t if they are English version )such as “Waterloo”, “the soldiers of the Grande Armee” He takes the view of the of ordinary soldiers and explains all the details , waterloo hour by hours as if you were there, side by side with the soldiers. Impressive narration, humble, brilliant, breath taking…

    Marengo! When you talked about Marengo you didn’t mention the Marengo coat…the Napoleon was carrying with him on every battle field and even in St Helena. Is a legend or is true?
    I love your show, thank you so much! Michele

  2. michele destarac

    I read Alan Schom’s « one Hundred days » some 12 years ago …and picked it up again a few days ago to check whether my opinion had changed. Alas! Even today, this book remains to me a bit partial so, I decided to look, via google around Napoleon ?”. This is how I found your fantastic site. Thanks God! What a relief! Napoleon would not only be an ogre? Thank you very, very much. I am busy now catching up all the chapters and I enjoy it. My English (by the way, I am French –no one is perfect-) is not good enough to allow me to convey what I think as I would like to. Sorry for that .
    Your presentation besides its real interest is extremely vivid, clever, didactic, and accurate The dialogue and the digretions make the speech even more entertaining. It gives also to the audience the opportunity to relax a bit. Thank you for speaking such a clear and understandable English, so easy to follow.
    My questions are:
    Has anyone read A.Schom’s book? What was your opinion ?
    Has anyone read Jean Claude Damamme’s books (I don’t if they are English version )such as “Waterloo”, “the soldiers of the Grande Armee” He takes the view of the of ordinary soldiers and explains all the details , waterloo hour by hours as if you were there, side by side with the soldiers. Impressive narration, humble, brilliant, breath taking…

    Marengo! When you talked about Marengo you didn’t mention the Marengo coat…the Napoleon was carrying with him on every battle field and even in St Helena. Is a legend or is true?
    I love your show, thank you so much! Michele

  3. Rich

    Michelle, I found it interesting how you found the site. I stumbled upon it just after the last episode was published by asking Google “Who was Napoleon’s best Marshall”. Just finished catching up myself, but I had a great head start by reading the “For Dummies” book about two years back. David, I enjoyed your book and was pleasantly surprised when I found one of my favorite Napoleonic authors online, talking about Napoleon. The depth and detail of Napoleon’s life is unrivaled anywhere. Please continue the great work.

    Also, please do a show about Marshall Murat. It could fill three hours.

  4. Paul Caspall

    Another excellent episode Alex. Very interesting and entertaining to see the ‘character’ behind the ‘names’ of the Russian Generals for a change. Your contribution to these recent podcasts is outstanding. Keep ’em coming.

    Cheers,
    Paul

  5. Greg McP

    Keep it up Alex. You’re great.
    Perhaps Alex’s episodes should have the 1812 Overture, which borrows from the old Imperial Russian Anthem.

    Alex has been a real re-invigoration of this podcast.
    I hope you’ve got other historians lined up. An Englishman, perhaps someone with a Prussian point of view.

  6. Trevor Hardcastle

    Hello!
    Alex, have you read count Rostopchin’s account of Moscow fires? He denies any involvement in it. Our host J. David Markham keeps saying that Rostopchin is behind the fire. I wonder if his opinion is based on anything other than war bullitens of Napoleon himself?
    Regards,
    Trevor

  7. Rostopchin’s account is self-serving and therefore unreliable. All other accounts – both memoirs and archival – indicate that he was directly responsible for the fire. If we take a look at police reports, then among many we can find Rostopchin’s instructions (on 14 September, right before the French occupation) to Pristav (constable) Voronenko to destroy as much buildings as possible by fire. For this purpose, Rostopchin’s instructions called for convicted criminals to be set free. The constable soon reported that “[he] set fire in several places by 10.00 p.m.” The same day (14 September), Kutuzov ordered to burn down magazines with supply and ammunition. Rostopchin on his part ordered to destroy all firefighting facilities; as it was affirmed by the Russian scholars, under Rostopchin’s orders all water pomps were taken out of the city. Rostopchin later acknowledged that he evacuated 2100 firefighters with 96 pomps. He may deny all of this in his account but the question arises why did he do this, if not for burning the city ?

    Best wishes,
    Alex

  8. michele

    to Richs,
    I found the site via google typing: “Is Alan Schom anti napoleon?”, saw responses about Schom’s books to buy and then down the list I found TNP Napoleon 101. Just by chance. Since, I am busy catching up every day.
    I also dicovered a nice site shownig portraits of most of the people around Napoleon. A sort of face book.
    napoleon-empire.net/portraits.Quite interesting!
    Regards. Michele

  9. michele

    TO Alex Mikaberidze
    Thank you very much for the site. Indeed, it is very informative and reveals how some historians choose to twist historical facts (fortunately, facts are very stubborn).In Napoleon ‘case, I just cannot see the point of all of this…. We know that the British government gave hell of a lot of money and weapons to their allies. But were smart enough not to get into direct fight and therefore managed to win 10 years coalitions without having appalling losses in terms of human beings. After all Napoleon didn’t invade England, and battles remained on the continent. So what could be the reason hidden behind such an extreme dislike?Does anyone know?
    Thank you Alex, I hope you will come back again, to make share your knowledge.With my regards. Michele

  10. Rich

    Michelle,

    I find it funny that the book that started my Napoleon fascination was Alan Schom’s “Napoleon Bonaparte”. Even through his distorted point of view I was gripped by Napoleon and the characters. Schom is a very good writer but he degrades his good work by splattering his books with his opinion to much, when the facts alone are sufficient.

  11. Jim Bunch

    Off topic question regarding “La Marseillaise.”
    (from wikipedia):
    “The Convention accepted it as the French national anthem in a decree passed on July 14, 1795, but it was then banned successively by Napoleon I, Louis XVIII, and Napoleon III, only being reinstated briefly after the July Revolution of 1830. During Napoleon I’s reign Veillons au Salut de l’Empire was the unofficial anthem of the regime and during Napoleon III’s reign Partant pour la Syrie. In 1879, “La Marseillaise” was restored as the country’s national anthem, and has remained so ever since.” Sorry for the copy and paste, like you’ve never quoted Wiki… Cameron.

    My question, why was the anthem banned by Napoleon? I could see the Bouron’s reasoning as a theme of the revolution. However, Napoleon was born of the revolution, was this banned when he became Emperor for fear of another uprising? I realize this question is off topic for this episode, Where else should one post general questions?

  12. Rich

    Jim,

    A few weeks ago the Final Jeopardy clue answered this. The clue was: This song was banned by Louis XVI, Napoleon I, and Napoleon III. The correct response was “La Marseillaise”

  13. The reason Napoleon banned the Marseillaise is pretty obvious. He had become an emperor and was no longer a revolutionary. He was now trying to marry into Europe’s power elites and had become an enemy of democracy.

  14. Jim

    Mr. Mikaberidze mentions a truce that allows citizens to leave Moscow. Was the city not on fire at this time? If this were prior to the city being burnt, is the truce blamed for allowing ample time to spread the fire? Is there a book that describes this event more clearly?

  15. John Clocherty

    Well, after the best part of a year, I am finally through to the current podcast. A superb effort (from you guys!). I agree with many of the comments from the last few episodes that Alex has been instrumental in re-invigorating the podcast.

    I agree that in depth perspectives from others eg Prussian viewpoints would be good. I am particularly interested in a more in depth look at the Spanish campaign.

    Keep up the good work!

  16. Bob

    Never will understand the love of the Alexanders and Napoleons;
    those who invade and murder, plunder and rape.
    And for what?
    I like the Schom book. It tells how the soldiers suffered…especially in the Egyptian fiasco.

    I’d love to see all the hero worshippers of Napoleon talk if they had served with him in Egypt. But people buy into all sorts of baloney. Look how far Hitler got.
    Napoleon may have been a genius but he also caused much suffering…and for what?
    France was not better off at the end.

    I think you’d have to be insane to study Napoleon and think this was a guy to admire. He even had his own Gestapo through Fouche. Love to hear some fool express a good opinion expressed about Fouche if they were a guest of his.
    And this was Napoleon’s Head Policeman. Wonderful. What a great man.

    • Cameron

      Bob, I suggest you listen to our series to dispel some of the incorrect information you have about Napoleon. Schom’s book gives a very biased view. Try balancing it up with some facts.

  17. Bob, in the words of Napoleon, “Among many who dislike suppression are those who like to suppress!” The lies you have recounted are the lies of the Tsar, of mad King George the third, and of, guess who, Talleyrand. The difference, to quote our head Bonapartist David Markham, is that “Hitler imprisoned the Jewish population, Napoleon emancipated them!”

    I wish you had been in my English class when I said my pro-Napoleon speech, I’m told it’s quite persuasive…

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