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Larry Ellison (Co-Founder / Oracle)
I just finished Vincent Cronin’s book on Napoleon, a man who definitely needed better PR. Napoleon codified the laws for the first time in Europe. He was constantly limiting kings and other tyrants. He opened the ghettos and stopped religious discrimination. He was an extraordinary man who wrote a lot of laws himself. He was incredibly polite, generous almost to a fault, a remarkable person who was vilified. By who? The kings that he deposed — the kings of England, and the old king of France, and the kings of Prussia, and the Tsar of Russia — were all threatened by this man who was bringing democracy.
I think it’s interesting to read this book and look at Napoleon and see how history has treated him. Even the expression “Napoleon complex,” Napoleon was average height for a French person. The idea is just preposterous, treating maybe the most gifted man of the 19th century as some kind of despot. He was a liberator, a law-giver, and a man of incredible gifts. He never considered himself a soldier, he considered himself a politician, though he was probably the greatest general in all history.
It’s interesting to read about him for a couple of reasons: to see what one man of modest birth can do with his life, and to see how history can distort the truth entirely. The job of historians is often just that, to distort history, because history is based on fashion. So we’re changing American history all the time, whatever’s politically fashionable. The school districts decide they want to emphasize this person in history, and de-emphasize that person. It’s illuminating to understand that even history is based on fashion. Even morality — popular morality — is based on fashion. Real morality is based on reason, and never make the mistake between the two.
First published in 1971, Vincent Cronin’s classic biography of Napoleon is now available as an ebook for the first time. ‘I wanted to find a Napoleon I could picture as a living, breathing man.’ Vincent Cronin superbly realises his objectives in this, probably the finest of all modern biographies of Napoleon. It is generally regarded as the author’s masterpiece. This edition does not include illustrations.
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