Also By This Author
“In The Retreat, a novel much praised for its level of historical detail, French writer Patrick Rambaud locates little grandeur in the ghastly carnage of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow. . . . Readers of Bernard Cornwell Sharpe’s novels will no doubt relish the prize-winning Rambaud’s hallucinogenic, frost-edged vision of Napoleon’s Russian debacle.” Douglas Porch, Washington Post
978-0-8021-4265-8 • $14.00 • Paperback • July 2006
The spectacular sequel to The Battle, winner of the Prix Goncourt and the Grand Prix Roman de l’Académie Française
In midsummer 1812, Napoleon crossed over the river Niemen into Russia with the largest army hitherto assembled in European history. In September, the Grand Army, exhausted, famished, and reduced to a third of its initial size, finally reached Moscow, but the famed holy city was empty. Fires were burning and only inmates loosed from prisons and asylums roamed the streets. Citizens had already evacuated in great convoys, taking with them all the provisions and as many belongings as they could transport, including the fire engines.
For the next five weeks, the occupying forces found themselves in a strange, suspended state, conquerors of a ruined city. A semblance of normalcy prevailedNapoleon’s staff jockeyed for position; a stranded French theatrical troupe performed in the Kremlin; Stendhal, a foot soldier in the Army, recalled Nero’s fire in Rome; and as winter drew near Napoleon waited for Tsar Alexander to return and sue for peace.
“With Balzac’s eye for detail, and his unparalleled talent for bringing great men low” (The Times, London), Rambaud masterfully brings another of Napoleon’s disastrous defeats to life, just as he did with his first work, the Prix Goncourt-winning book The Battle, which chronicled Napoleon’s first defeat in Essling. Filled with horrific human suffering and almost indescribable scenes of carnage, The Retreat is an extraordinarily vivid and memorable depiction of the Russian campaign, and an unblinking look at the capacity of those in extreme adversity, and of what men, when called upon, can survive.