Reading for Friday, 10 April
Here we have a small defense of Napoleon. Depending on what you call a defense.
Some historians have thought that Napoleon lost the plot at Moscow and made a few mistakes.
Tolstoy says, “Not at all! It wouldn’t have mattered what he did!”
In fact the line which sums it up says that “his [Napoleon’s] personal activity, having no more force than the personal activity of every soldier, was merely coincidental with the laws by which the event was determined.”
But the best part of this chapter is the moment where he talks about the difference between the Germans and the Russians. The Germans have to make out Napoleon to be an ultra-genius to explain why they lost.
However, referring to the Russians, Tolstoy says, “But we have, thank God, no need to plead his genius to cloak our shame. We have paid for the right to look facts simply and squarely in the face, and that right we will not give up.”
More on Napoleon in the next few chapters – sadly, however, I’m away for the next couple of days, so it will be the weekend before I get back to the blog. Sorry about this! Except I do have one more thing to share, but that will be in a separate post.