“You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war.”
– Napoleon Bonaparte
This is the second of a three-part series on the Emperor of the French inspired by historian Andrew Robert’s biography, Napoleon: A Life. The book is quite good at revealing the human being behind the controversial historical figure. Focusing primarily on the military sphere, this episode examines the significance of military genius, that, is why is it that sometimes brilliance seems to have a decisive impact on history and why sometimes it is bounded by larger historical forces. Part 1 looked at his campaigns to the end of 1805 and his masterstroke at Austerlitz. Part 2 picks up the story in with Napoleon’s campaign against Prussia. This episode argues that even though the Emperor waged a spectacular campaign that ended with the humiliation of what had been the finest army in Europe a generation earlier, a critical look reveals the handwriting on the wall that shows the historical circumstances weighing against Napoleon that were beyond his military genius.