This volume is undoubtedly the best volume on the marshals as a group. Each marshal is covered by a different author, so the scholarship is somewhat uneven. David Chandler both edited the volume and wrote one of the chapters.
Napoleon's Marshals led the troops of France in battles across Europe from 1804 to 1815. A mixed group of twenty-six men, some of the Marshals came from aristocratic backgrounds, some had originally pursued tradesmen careers as drapers and bakers, and others rose from total poverty to hold the highest positions in the empire below the emperor himself. Delderfield's exciting chronicle of these men and their battles tells of their origins, their elevation under the rule of Napoleon, the kingships achieved by some and the betrayals of others, and the Marshals' changing relationship with their leader as the fortunes of the empire rose and fell.
-Napoleon's Marshals: Twenty-Six Military Commanders of the First Empire by
"The careers of the first men of the First Empire The rank of Marshal of France was the highest military rank within the armies of the Bourbons in the days before the French Revolution tore down the aristocratic establishment and signalled a period of change where citizens could rise on merit rather than as a right of birth. Revolution turned to Consulate and-under the seemingly invincible and unstoppable influence of Napoleon Bonaparte-to Empire. In 1804 Napoleon reinstated the rank as the highest attainable by his officers, and he knew his ambitious soldiers well for many fought and died driven by the idea that 'every soldier carried a marshal's baton in his knapsack,' the opportunity to advance in status and wealth for those who might rise to Napoleon's challenge no matter how lowly their origins. Between 1804 and 1815 Napoleon created twenty six Marshals. They were the men upon whom he would depend for victory on the battlefield or whilst conducting campaigns on their own. All cherished their positions and the power, influence and wealth that came with them. All sought to maintain what they had won and this resulted in jealousies and actions often contrary to their masters best interests. They were men who had come from all levels of society, of mixed talents, some brave as lions, others timid and cautious, the clever and the simply methodical, the fiercely loyal and those ready for betrayal at a moment of personal advantage. Some, essentially, had a talent for attracting good luck-an essential trait in the Napoleonic assessment. Here are the origins, victories, defeats and fates of the men who for more than a decade set Europe ablaze in an orgy of fire and blood at the behest of their master, Augereau, Grouchy, Macdonald, Massena, Moncey, Murat, Perignon, Poniatowski, Soult, Victor and sixteen more of Napoleon's men."
"Napoleon Bonaparte entered the World stage in 1793 at the siege of Toulon. This book covers the period of 1796 to 1815, from Napoleon's classic victories in Italy up to the point of his defeat at Waterloo. Napoleon created twenty-six Marshals in all and the tapestry of the book is wound around these men, their interpersonal relationships, their successes together, their constant bickering and their eventual failure. With Marshal jostling with Marshal for power and influence; to say nothing of aggrandizement, it is surprising that Napoleon succeeded to the extent that he did. The book tells the complete story of the Napoleonic Wars, but using the Marshals as the pivot around which the narrative unfolds it presents a different and interesting focus, enabling the reader to see Napoleon from an unusual angle. The book proceeds chronologically providing a first-class read and a superb account of the Napoleonic Wars. This new edition is illustrated with contemporary portraits and engravings. Although A. G. Macdonell was best known as a journalist and satirist, he was extremely well-educated and had a passion for history, especially the Napoleonic period. Having been a gunnery officer in the First World War he was able empathize with his subject, the little gunner corporal, to a degree that is not shared by armchair historians."