Book Review: Napoleon's Enfant Terrible: General Dominique Vandamme


by John. G. Gallagher

Norman: Ok.: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008. Pp. xiv, 362. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $34.95. ISBN:978-0-8061-3875-6

Dominique Vandamme was lifelong soldier.  He entered a military school at the age of 12, and then served as an enlisted man, before rising to corps command during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, by dint of outstanding battlefield performance.  A short temper and sharp tongue, however, cost him a marshalate, a distinction that he probably merited more than some of those to whom Napoleon awarded a baton. 

This work, based on extensive research in recently discovered or previously overlooked documents, is essentially a military biography.  Focused on the general?s performance within the framework of the wars, it offers many insights into his character and particularly his irascible behavior, which may have, in part, been calculated to secure more autonomy in his assignments. 

In the process, the book gives the reader an insight into some of the dynamics and dangers of military service during the Revolutionary period, and the surprisingly petty relations among the senior officers in Napoleon's army.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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