1 “First, can anyone please explain the usage of the word "Decline" “
être en baisse (sorry if this isn't a satisfactory explanation for you - I have only just started to learn French again after a break of over 30 years, and I only achieved an elementary grasp of it then).
2 and the date "1804" - this doesn’t make much sense. “
From a military perspective perhaps 1805 would be a better choice, but since you raise the concept of ideology .... “In a letter dated 8 March 1804, only days prior to d'Enghien's arrest, Talleyrand wrote: "The First Consul must prevail against his enemies...As justice obliges him to punish rigorously, politics requires him to punish without exception....May I recommend M. de Caulaincourt to the First Consul, a man to whom he can give orders and who will execute them with as much discretion as fidelity." “ Tom Holberg, The d'Enghien Affair: Crime or Blunder?
1804, peut-être se met à faire le déclin
3 At least Hitler was given a "Rise" by Shirer.
I think most people are aware of the second work in Shirer’s trilogy, even if they’ve not read it in its entirety. And that his perspective was not without bias – but then I don’t think that I’d (personally) like to read a pro Nazi account. Are you comparing Digby to Shirer? If so it seems to me a rather strange comparison to make. I’d be interested to know why the particular comparison is made before I responded to this
4 “Second, is the book any good? My understanding is that the author has a hatred for Napoleon. Is the book unbiased or does it definitely have a anti-Napoleon flavor? “
If a book offers a new perspective, develops materials to help our understanding then I think it can be said that it is good. On a website such as this it would not quite be as acutely critical as saying …"When, in the silence of the abjection, the only sound that can be heard is the clink of the chains of a slave and the voice of the informer; when all tremble before the tyrant and it is as dangerous to incur his favour as to merit his disgrace, then the historian appears, bringing with him with the vengeance of the people." (Chateaubriand) but I have read and admired much of Digby's works and i think he has contributed significantly to our understanding of the Napoleonic period (and I have no interest, vested or otherwise, in saying this
5 Does it add in anything that Chandler didnt have in his massive work "Campaigns of Napoleon?"
I will now read it to find out. But if it offers some new insights, certainly in relation to our understanding of the politico-economic underpinnings of the First Republic then I think it will be worth it. I myself have been trying to find somethign readily accessible that tells me more about how the state managed to ensure the manufacture of a sufficient quantity of weapons, uniforms and other materiel – most comapraitve economic histories would put France at a considerable disadvantage to one of its major adversaries across la manche.
I think also that it would take a substantial effort to research and write a book that would live up to Michelet’s criteria for historical critique …"The historian's first duties are sacrilege and the mocking of false gods. They are his indispensable instruments for establishing the truth."