The Conversation

The Conversation

by Jean d'Ormesson


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Several years after the French Revolution, in the winter of 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte has to make a crucial decision: to keep the main ideals of the new France alive or to elevate the country into a powerful base by making it an empire and becoming emperor.

One evening at the Tuileries Residence in Paris, Second Consul Jean-Jacques Cambacérès, a brilliant law scholar and close ally, listens as Napoleon struggles to determine what will be best for a country much weakened by ten years of wars and revolutions. Torn between his revolutionary ideals and his overwhelming longing for power, Napoleon Bonaparte declares that it can only be achieved by his taking the throne.

Bonaparte attempts to rally Cambacérès to his cause and maps out in great detail why France must become an empire, with him as its Emperor. The Republican hero desires only one thing: to forge his legend during his lifetime. France has arrived at a crossroads, and Bonaparte must break many barriers to fulfill his ambition. “An empire is a Republic that has been enthroned,” he declares. And so, through the night, French history is made. With historical erudition, d’Ormesson remarkably captures the man’s vertigo of triumph, which ultimately leads to his fall.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781611459050
Publisher: Arcade
Publication date: 11/01/2013
Pages: 128
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Jean d'Ormesson is a French novelist who was Secretary-General of the International Council for Philosophy and Humanistic Studies at UNESCO and the director of the French newspaper Le
Figaro from 1974 to 1979. He is currently Dean of the Académie, a
Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour, and Commander of the Order of the
Southern Cross of Brazil. He lives in France.

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The Conversation 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
alyslinn More than 1 year ago
review This is a conversation in the very literal sense of the word. The book in its entirety is a conversation between Bonaparte and Cambacérès. It took me a few pages to get used to the format, but once I did, I wished that I could have read this book as an audiobook, and had two actors performing the parts. However, the conversation was compelling enough on its own that it didn't take me too long to read. "A society without religion is like a ship without a compass. … I am Catholic here because most people are Catholics." These lines (and the entire paragraph) caught my attention. I don't know as much about French history as I would like (one of these days I shall take time to study it beyond the French Revolution we learned in school), but I do remember reading about Napoleon re-opening the churches (shuttered by those who took over during the Revolution). I just hadn't realized that his own beliefs were not religious. Yet Napoleon does not just focus on political plotting. There is an amusing (to me at least) digression into family relations, and the rivalry of his Empress Josephine with his sister Caroline over an expensive shawl, which breaks up some of the more historically-heavy sections.  The majority of the conversation details Napoleon's determination to be called Emperor of the French; his reasoning and plans are detailed, and you can imagine yourself a fly on the wall as he plots his ascension.