Adam Zamoyski rss

Portrait of Napoleon by Joseph Chabord (1766–1848)

The men who invented Napoleon

14 December 2013
Citizen Emperor: Napoleon in Power, 1799-1815, Volume II Philip Dwyer

Bloomsbury, pp.800, £30, ISBN: 9780747578086

Writing about Napoleon is a risky business. It exposes the author to the brickbats of the blind worshippers for whom he is a numinous hero and the equally challenged detractors… Read more

Ghostly traces of a vanished land

14 July 2012
A Journey to Nowhere: Detours and Riddles in the Land and History of Courland Jean-Paul Kauffmann, translated by Euan Cameron

MacLehose Press, pp.269, 18.99, ISBN: 9780857050366

This is an entirely pointless but curiously engaging and even tantalising book. A youthful love affair in Montreal with a girl of Latvian descent plants the word ‘Courland’ in the… Read more

Fatal entrapment

12 May 2012
Deception: Spies, Lies and How Russia Dupes the West Edward Lucas

Bloomsbury, pp.372, 20

I am no great fan of spy thrillers and positively allergic to conspiracy theories, but I found this book difficult to put down. In an earlier study, Edward Lucas examined… Read more


The end of the affair

25 March 2009
Americans in Paris Charles Glass

Harper Press, pp.524, 20

Given the anti-Americanism displayed on every possible occasion by the French since the days of De Gaulle, and the crudely expressed contempt with which Americans have responded, particularly over the… Read more

Obsessed by Ukraine

18 June 2008
The Red Prince Timothy Snyder

Bodley Head, pp.344, 20

This is the story of a very unusual man. ‘Wilhelm von Habsburg,’ Timothy Snyder tells us, ‘wore the uniform of an Austrian officer, the court regalia of a Habsburg archduke,… Read more

No redeeming features

21 March 2007
The Thyssen Art Macabre David Litchfield

Quartet, pp.470, 25

Until fairly recently, the name Thyssen-Bornemisza held generally positive associations — with vibrant German industrialism, responsible capitalism, pan-European cosmopolitanism, artistic connoisseurship and philanthropy, all tinged with a pleasant whiff of… Read more

Correcting received opinions

11 October 2006
Europe East and West by Norman Davies

Cape, pp.318, 20

Norman Davies is always at his best challenging received ideas and inherited perceptions, and the areas covered by these essays provide him with rich hunting-grounds for both. The title is… Read more

A long losing run

14 June 2006
The Last Mazurka: A Tale of War, Passion and Loss Andrew Tarnowski

Aurum, pp.348, 14.99

This is indeed a story of war, passion and loss. But those looking for a bittersweet tale of romantic Polish aristocrats stoically facing their doom at the hands of the… Read more

The Schleswig- Holstein Question answered

30 July 2005
Northern Shores: A History of the Baltic Sea and its Peoples Alan Palmer

John Murray, pp.448, 25

To anyone who enjoyed Fernand Braudel’s masterly work on the Mediterranean or Neal Ascher- son’s wonderful Black Sea, the idea of a book on the Baltic is an appealing one.… Read more

Grande horizontale et verticale

25 June 2005
Imperial Dancer: Mathilde Kschessinska and the Romanovs Coryne Hall

Sutton, pp.326, 20

One of those little footnotes to history that has always intrigued me is that the Bolsheviks planned and carried out the October Revolution in the palace of the Tsar’s mistress.… Read more

Solving the Polish conundrum

1 November 2003
Rising ’44: The Battle for Warsaw Norman Davies

Macmillan, pp.660, 25

The Warsaw uprising of August 1944 was one of the most tragic episodes of the second world war, resulting in the destruction of the city and some 200,000 of its… Read more