While Napoleon remains a pivotal figure in French and European history, Fenton Bresler argues in this new biography, his nephew's success with the Second Empire and his fall with the Franco-Prussian War warrants him a place among the great men of his time. Louis-Napoleon, president of the Second Republic and emperor of the Second Empire, gave his country prosperous stability while enjoying a fantastically luxurious life -- before losing it all.Determined to carry on his uncle's legacy, and first brought to power in democratic elections (after two unsuccessful coup attempts), Napoleon III later engineered a coup d'etat and ruled as a reform-minded autocrat. His defeat of Austria helped to create an Italian nation, yet his own defeat by Prussia ushered in modern Germany and sowed the seeds for the two World Wars. With Baron Haussmann, he dramatically reinvented Paris as a city of beautiful, wide boulevards and grand public gardens. He had numerous mistresses but no lovers, many confidantes and colleagues but no friends, and in the end, no allies.From Napoleon III's early and high adventure, to glittering triumph, then ignominious defeat, Bresler concentrates on the human side of this leader, using newly available research materials.
He has also uncovered evidence that incompetence at the highest level of Britain's medical establishment contributed to Napoleon III's death in exile.