H-Diplo Review Essay on The Invisible Emperor: Napoleon on Elba From Exile to Escape
"Mark Braude’s book The Invisible Emperor retells the remarkable tale of how, for ten months, Napoleon ruled over this Mediterranean ‘Lilliput.’ It is an intriguing story, and one which the author tells exceedingly well. The style is lucid, and this makes the book gripping and page turning. The narrative is sensibly chronological and weaves together three interrelated stories into one....Braude argues, compellingly, that the diplomats and monarchy in the Habsburg capital quickly felt uncomfortable with Napoleon’s proximity to Europe. The British, and others, wondered whether Madeira or a little-known island called Saint Helena, far away in the South Atlantic, might not be safer places of confinement for Bonaparte. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that the Bourbons in France failed, or more accurately refused, to pay the fallen Emperor’s two-million-franc pension....Braude’s book is to be welcomed as the first well-informed English language study of Napoleon’s brief reign on Elba. It is well read and based on some of the latest studies written in French. Indeed, on many levels it is a good distillation of Pierre Branda’s highly original and extremely scholarly La Guerre Secrète de Napoleon, Île d’Elbe 1814-1815. In making this story accessible to a broad Anglo-Saxon readership the author has provided a great service...."