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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review: Napoleon in America by Shannon Selin

Title: Napoleon in America
Author: Shannon Selin
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Dry Wall Publishing
Publish Date: January 20, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a historical fiction fan.
  • You like asking "What if."
What's the Story?:

From "What if Napoleon Bonaparte had escaped from St. Helena and wound up in the United States?

The year is 1821. Former French Emperor Napoleon has been imprisoned on a dark wart in the Atlantic since his defeat at Waterloo in 1815. Rescued in a state of near-death by Gulf pirate Jean Laffite, Napoleon lands in New Orleans, where he struggles to regain his health aided by voodoo priestess Marie Laveau. Opponents of the Bourbon regime expect him to reconquer France. French Canadians beg him to seize Canada from Britain. American adventurers urge him to steal Texas from Mexico. His brother Joseph pleads with him to settle peacefully in New Jersey. As Napoleon restlessly explores his new land, he frets about his legacy. He fears for the future of his ten-year-old son, trapped in the velvet fetters of the Austrian court. While the British, French and American governments follow his activities with growing alarm, remnants of the Grande Armée flock to him with growing anticipation. Are Napoleon’s intentions as peaceful as he says they are? If not, does he still have the qualities necessary to lead a winning campaign?"

My Two Cents:

Imagine that instead of being imprisoned for all the rest of his days, Napoleon escaped and went to America, helped out by the infamous pirate, Jean Lafitte and this is exactly what "Napoleon in America" is about. In history, Napoleon never visited America so this historical event is a figment of the imagination.

I don't often read alternate history because usually if I'm reading history or historical fiction, I want to have the facts. However, books like this one makes me think that maybe I need to be a little more open to to alternative history. Even though the events are made up, you can tell that Selin did a lot of research on the historical figures that appear in the book to make all of the things that they say and all of the things that they do in this book feel like something that actually could have happened.

There are so many really interesting historical figures in the book. I loved that the author included some of the correspondence from some of the historical figures, such as John Quincy Adams. It really added a sense of realism to the book. I also liked how the author wrote the characters themselves, you get to see a lot of different perspectives. We get insight into the kind of man that Napoleon was, the things he cares about, and his thoughts on his relationships with others. We see how much he cares and thinks about his son, which definitely humanized him for me.

I liked the writing of the book. The book had a really good flow!



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