Roberts is open both in terms of his admiration for Napoleon and his intent “ to combat.. the grossly distorted view of him held in Great Britain”.
However. If Roberts is an admirer - some might say worshipper - then any critique of Napoleon (even if impartial) could be viewed to be distorted if that critique is at odds with Roberts' admiration.
Roberts’ views are made much clearer throughout the programme – and we are left in no doubt that his aim is not merely to put the record straight, if indeed his view of gross distortion is correct. Rather it is to regale Napoleon’s victories and other achievements and downplay atrocities, some of which were war crimes - just the one in this episodes, but more to come - which he does at least admit to be as such if they were to be judged today. But more importantly, even if there is some distortion in the various biographies and histories that have been written and published in Great Britain, and there have been many – good and bad – to write an equally partial, selective and - if not distorted itself – certainly biased biography, is neither constructive nor helpful and does nothing to add to our understanding. We have heard most if not all of these apologies before.
No-one, not even his severest critics discounts or underplays his meteoric rise to power – although some may under-state his personal contribution to the coup or seizure of power (suggesting, for example, that the role was thrust upon him). And hardly anyone has challenged his undoubted military genius - although many have correctly pointed to his military and political failures too. And, when hubris took over, his lack of true concern for the people of France. However, hubris aside, I take the point that we have thus far seen programme 1 of 3. But, as with a series of books, it is both fair and acceptable to offer a critique as each is published. So I will continue the debate, and limit my critique here to the period covered – namely to 1800. I will deal with foreign affairs and war, and will start with the Egyptian campaign – and can therefore look into external threats, “the return of the saviour” to France, domestic politics, intrigues and the coup d’état.
By the way. My obsession with Napoleon and the main thrust of my critique has nothing to do with my nationality. I am not British – if anything I am an internationalist.