BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Dr. Alan Schom, author of "Napoleon Bonaparte," on the back of your book an author by the name of David Chandler writes the following: `This biography by Alan Schom will shake the Napoleonic clientele and for good reasons, too.' What's that mean?
Dr. ALAN SCHOM (Author, "Napoleon Bonaparte"): Well, I wrote the book because there was not a biography of Napoleon, not an honest one, not a complete one and certainly not in one volume. In fact, there's never been one that's even reasonably good in one volume. And I wrote that because all the others suppressed--deliberately suppressed very important bend--material or, in other cases, simply were ignorant of it.
But the greatest specialists in the world in Paris today have deliberately suppressed that, and if anyone dare say it, they attack them. And they even permit--they prohibit the publication of books in--any books in France that criticize Napoleon.
LAMB: Where do you live now?
Dr. SCHOM: I live in France, but I'm gonna be moving shortly.
LAMB: What is it that they suppress?
Dr. SCHOM: All the bad aspects of his character, all his really evil deeds or really tragic deeds, however you wish to describe it, the massacres of innocent people after the battles. I'm not talking about the terrible massacres during the battles when he killed altogether three million men.
But after the battles, when he destroyed village after village--and we're talking about hundreds and hundreds of villages from Hannover in northern Germany and down to Puglia in Italy and all across Spain. Hundreds of villages were destroyed, and he usually took out most of the men, lined them up and shot them when they rebelled after the battle, after the peace had been established.
LAMB: Let me ask you some simple things.
Dr. SCHOM: Yes.
LAMB: When did Napoleon live?
Dr. SCHOM: He lived from 1769 to 1821.
LAMB: Making him how old when he died?
Dr. SCHOM: Fifty-one.
LAMB: How many times was he married?
Dr. SCHOM: He was married twice.
LAMB: What were his wives' names?
Dr. SCHOM: His first wife was Josephine, who was probably the most famous. And his--he divorced her because she was barren and he had to have an heir to the throne, even though she was the only woman he ever loved. And then he married Marie-Louise, who was the daughter of the Austrian emperor.
LAMB: How long was he married to Josephine?
Dr. SCHOM: He was married from 1797 through the end of 1910--sorry, 1797 through 1810.
LAMB: And where did he meet her?
Dr. SCHOM: He--that's a very good question, and a lot--there's a lot of debate about that. But it was obviously in Paris, and it had to do with one of the five directors, as they were called, the five gentlemen who ran the French government, a man by the name of Paul Barras, a viscount of the old aristocracy and at one of his famous balls, bachanalian very usually referred to. Where else? At Josephine's cottage on the Champs Elysees, which in those days was just fields and houses.
LAMB: And how did they get together? How did they marry? I mean, was it an arranged marriage?
Dr. SCHOM: Oh, no. No, no. In fact, she was against it at first and, in fact, she was having two affairs simultaneously when she started the third with him. In 1797, she was having one affair with General Ushe; she was having another one with Paul Barras, and she was the official mistress of his parties for the government, etc.
And he finally pressed her. Well, first of all, he ignored her, and she kept inviting him over to her house. And then he finally became very serious for the first time in his life and, as I say, she was the only woman he ever really loved or - ever really was interested in.
LAMB: Who was older?
Dr. SCHOM: She was, by a few years.
LAMB: And so when they met, how old were they? Do you remember?
Dr. SCHOM: Yes, they were in their mid-20s, and she was in her late 20s.
LAMB: And what was he doing then?
Dr. SCHOM: He was -- had just -- let me see. He had just quelled the famous English invasion of Toulon, where he had suddenly jumped from the rank of captain to general within six months as a result of that. He defeated the English, who actually did not have a tenable position there, and the aristocrats. And so he came to Paris with all this glory at-this suddenly un--hitherto unknown general was suddenly overnight the great hero of the day.
And then he further helped the directory put down a rebellion by the left in Paris, chiefly the revolutionaries-former revolutionaries. And so he--he suddenly became very, very famous literally overnight.
LAMB: Where was he born?
Dr. SCHOM: He was born in Ajaccio, Corsica, in the south of Corsica. It's a coastal town.
LAMB: And how did he leave there?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, he left many times. He first left at about the age of nine when his father took him to a military school, a boarding school literally. And he was packed off there because there were no good schools whatsoever in Corsica. And this was for the aristocracy, but it was one of the--for the lowest of the-- aristocracy in Brienne. And he remained there until he was 16. And his parents had no money to bring him home, so he never went on vacation; he literally lived there day and night for all those years.
LAMB: I've got here a Washington Times sid--full page here...
Dr. SCHOM: Hmm.
LAMB: ...Champagne toast: `Vive la Napoleon!' And it's all about a society, a group that meets--this--in this case, met in Williamsburg, Virginia, down here. And it's called a Napoleon--Napoleonic Society's annual meeting, including a bazaar of collectible artifacts. Several men circulated, dressed as Napoleonic hussars.
Dr. SCHOM: Yeah.
LAMB: The reason I bring it up is: What should we as Americans, in your opinion, think of this man, and why would you have a society named after him?
Dr. SCHOM: There are several of those societies. In fact, I was a member of one in France called the Souvenir Napoleonien--`remembrance of Napoleon,' really. And it has literally formed--the cadre still is today all the old Napoleonic aristocracy.
So you find all the names that were still alive in those days. You find Baron de Meneval, who's a good friend of mine and a charming gentleman. You find Prince Napoleon Murat. You find Baron Gourgaud, whom they just discovered ran off with 700,000 francs of the society's money. Then--they have a lot of influence. They will suppress any book. They suppressed my book from being--having a book signing in downtown Paris. They have tremendous influence.
There's a large society here. My very good friend Proctor Jones is a president of that society, which is the--I think, The American Napoleonic Society. There's another large one, an international one, run by another friend of mine, Ben Weider, in Montreal. They're everywhere. They have thousands and thousands of members.
LAMB: Why would they try to suppress your signing in Paris?
Dr. SCHOM: Because they didn't like what I said, because I was very frank, and I tried to make a balanced--establish a balanced view of this, and they were very angry. I wasn't playing cricket, you see. You're supposed to--you're not supposed to say nasty things. You're not supposed to tell the truth about all these murders he committed, all these atrocities, all the vast destruction of the economy of Europe--the whole of Europe. Your--it's simply not done.
LAMB: How many times did somebody try to assassinate him?
Dr. SCHOM: That's a good question, and I don't know. I would...
LAMB: Can you remember one? And...
Dr. SCHOM: Oh, well, there were many of them. There was one when he was in Austria where a young student tried to kill him with a knife. There's another one in Paris where a German student--these were all nationalists, who were very anti-Napoleonic, obviously. They didn't like being conquered, and he conquered all these countries, of course-wanted revenge for their countries.
And most of them belonged to student leagues at their universities. They tried with pistols. One came to Paris with about four or five pistols and several bombs, and he finally blew off one of his arms in the end because he fell out of a coach with one of the bombs just before he threw it.
There were many of them. The--but the most serious ones, of course, were by the Royalists. And this was financed by King Louis XVIII in Paris, who was financed--who--he was broke, actually, so he, in fact, was financed by the English. But the--his aim was not to kill him; simply to kidnap him and put him away someplace. But the extremists of the aristocracy wanted him out of the way.
And so I have in there the coverage of what I call the Christmas Eve plot when, in December of that year, early on his raid they planted an enormous bomb. And it killed several people, including the child that was holding the horse of the wagon that held the bomb and destroyed several buildings. So--and that, in fact, was why he later--he immediately kidnapped the Duke of Longienne, who was living in Germany at that time, and had him assassinated within 24 hours.
LAMB: Let me ask this question: 888 pages.
Dr. SCHOM: Yes.
LAMB: Forty dollars.
Dr. SCHOM: Yes.
LAMB: Why do you think this will sell, and what's your audience?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, I wasn't worrying whether it would sell. I wrote the book for myself. I write every book for myself. And that's why it took 10 years. And that's a shortened version because the original--that's 300,000 words. My original one was 400,000. But to get that within one volume, they had to cut off 100,000 words.
LAMB: Where did you write it?
Dr. SCHOM: All over because I wrote it full-time for 10 years. Most of it I wrote in France. Sections of it I wrote when I had to use English archives for the royal-the Royal Archives in England and the National Library and the Bodleian, etc., and at Chancery Lane.
LAMB: The Bodleian at Oxford.
Dr. SCHOM: Yes, the Bodleian Library at Oxford, sorry. I wrote it when I was in California at Berkeley, my old alma mater, which has a superb library. I spent six months in the very-in an excellent library at Dartmouth, the Baker Library. They have a superb Napoleonic collection there, first editions, which most people don't know about.
Really just--and all of it I compiled when I was living in the countryside. First, I had a villa in the south of France for several years, north of the city of Vence, which is north of Nice, and surrounded by shepherds who were always trying to burn down my house. Nice people.
LAMB: Why were they trying to do that?
Dr. SCHOM: Oh, they were trying to burn down a lot of houses and especially because I called the police when they tried to burn down my neighbor's house. And they threatened me over the telephone; they threatened my life. But you never take the French seriously, you know?
And then I was living in--now I'd been living for several years near the Loire--well, practically on the Loire River between Blois and Amboise, south of Paris.
LAMB: And why do you live in France?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, I live there--I originally went there because I wanted to retire there, and I love French history and I love French literature and I always shall. I was always fascinated by it, even at the age of 18 at Berkeley when I first started reading about him seriously. And the germ was set at that stage and developed.
So I had been living there also because I obviously had to work in the national archives; I had to have the main documents. Many of them were suppressed in there because I had 350 pages of notes. My publishers informed me they could not afford to print 350 pages of notes. So I would say about 70 percent of the archival material I use, they just reduced to initials or omitted altogether. And there was nothing I could do about that.
LAMB: You have--What?--something like 75 pages of notes in here?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, I don't know.
LAMB: I think...
Dr. SCHOM: I didn't count them, frankly.
LAMB: Well, it starts at Page 795 and I--find out here in just a second how far it goes. It goes to about 845, so it's not quite that many.
Dr. SCHOM: Yeah.
LAMB: But go back to the original question of $40 and 888 pages. Who do you want to read this?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, I wrote it--I wrote it for the general public because I wrote this--I wanted to know --I'm not talking about just one historical figure, one moment in history or in one particular country. What you're talking about is the power-hungry maniac who controls governments.
And we see them in the United States, in the large corporations today. We see the--we've seen a few in England. There's one--now one very famous politician who I would definitely put in this category because I classify Napoleon as a psychopath because he follows this power-hungry thing and has absolutely no feelings, no matter who is hurt or what lives are destroyed, what the cost is, so that he alone can achieve his goals.
And he--and these people never see anyone else; they really don't. They have--as some psychiatrists in England explained to me when they were going over this, they cannot have friends, or they might have one friend. But --that is unimportant.
LAMB: How does someone like you afford to live over a 10-year period and to put this book out?
Dr. SCHOM: That's a very good question. I sometimes wonder how I do it myself. No, I obviously had to use all my savings and everything else to get this through. But I felt it was very important and especially for someone like this because these people are all-- about us.
I mean, I won't name--well, I was thinking of--I better not name it--name of a very famous television company in the United States who is definitely one of these characters. You have Charles de Gaulle, who was obvious psychopath. You have Stalin; you have Hitler. They're all around us. What's his name?--Joseph Fouche as police minister was a psychopath. He...
LAMB: And what is a psychopath?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, this is--again, it's complicated. I give the list in the back there, one of the appendix--appendices. But it...
LAMB: Oh, I'm looking right at it.
Dr. SCHOM: And...
LAMB: You want me to read it? Would it be easier?
Dr. SCHOM: Yes, why don't you read it?
LAMB: All right. `A psychopath: A, a failure to make loving relationships; B, a propensity toward highly-impulsive, irrational actions; C, lack of sense of guilt or sensitivity for his own actions; and, D, failure to learn from adverse experiences.'
Dr. SCHOM: And there's one other one that we should add to that, which I found applied to almost all the cases. All-my medical friends did not use it. They're usually sadomas--sadomastochi--masochistic. And that is, I think, prevalent in every single case, and it was certainly -very strong on Napoleon. He--I--to the point of humiliating women, humiliating his ministers. He was a very tortured person.
LAMB: How big was he?
Dr. SCHOM: He was--well, I've seen so many different measurements, and I've gone through his clothes physically with the --chief ar--conservateur of the Malmaison in Fontainebleau and also at the-- main museum at the--in Paris. And I would say he's roughly --5', and his wife Josephine was perhaps a half-inch shorter.
But he's very small. When you see his clothes--and this is something, when you do history, you have to actually touch the material and see it. He had very narrow shoulders like that (gestures with hands) as a grown man. He was very puny, really small. And that --he had a chip on his shoulder because of that, which helped develop this.
And, also, he had --he received absolutely no love in his life from either his mother or his father. His mother, I think, almost detested him. And his father didn't detest him; he just ignored him. He never paid any attention to his children.
LAMB: What do people get if they buy this book?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, a...
LAMB: I mean, what's the scope?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, it's the entire--the--his entire life. Also, the life of not only France, but the life of the whole--it explains how the whole of Europe has become what it is today because he transformed the whole thing. He conquered the whole of Europe and unified it. He gave them the first sense of unification, really, since Jacques Lemanya, and before that, the Romans.
LAMB: How many battles would you say he led?
Dr. SCHOM: Oh, I couldn't count them...
LAMB: What are the...
Dr. SCHOM: ...because even in one b--if you had one war, for instance, you might have dozens of battles. For instance, the first Italian campaign in '76 and '77. There were dozens of battles. And some of those...
LAMB: In 1776-1777?
Dr. SCHOM: Yes. And there were dozens of battles.
LAMB: What --what's --what is his legacy today? In other words, what is in Europe today because of Napoleon? Or what's in the world because of Napoleon?
Dr. SCHOM: That's a very complicated question. I would like to begin at this --well, --i--some people, even today, say, `Well, Napoleon was great because he gave us a legion of honor and bega--because he gave us these new law codes, the Napoleonic code,' which --in fact, was the civil code, but there was also a criminal code and then a commercial code.
Well, most of the-- Napoleonic code, the civil code, exists in name only. It has been so --modified over the years. So that is the first thing the French will tell you. He gave us the code civil. He gave us our sense of ...(unintelligible), our sense of being the foremost power in Europe.
But when you get down to it, he destroyed the entire economy of Europe through this economic system, which he developed with this Confederation of the Rhine, which was intended to suppress England, which was, in fact, the only country he really respected because he couldn't defeat them. And he unified these countries, but under the force of arms, at bayonet's point.
The Germans didn't come to him because they loved him. He--they--he found 350 sovereign states in Western Germany alone. He suppressed the whole thing and reduced it to about a dozen states and named his own kings. He fired all the kings and princes, dukes of the various duchies, then, at this state, but who are literally heads of state. He fired the whole group, all their ministers. So he--that had --you can imagine what sort of revolt was building up just from that viewpoint. He replaced them with his own stooges.
But the main thing is what it did--it created for the first time a sense of unity by the Germans, a sense of--in the Germanic sense, the overall--covering all the Germanic areas, a sense of nationalism, a sense of nationality. And thanks to Napoleon, had he not done this, Bismarck could never have created the first Prussian state, unified Bavaria with -- the Prussian state. And in other words, France could never have been invaded.
LAMB: What year was he first visible--really visible in France?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, I suppose you would have to say 1797, I suppose.
Dr. SCHOM: No, no, it would be maybe a bit before that.
LAMB: Where was he during the Revolution of 1789?
Dr. SCHOM: For the most part, he was out of the country. He was in Corsica and, in fact, trying to overthrow the French government, even though he was, at that time, a French officer on leave with pay.
LAMB: What--when someone says--and I'm sorry to jump around like this.
Dr. SCHOM: No, that's all right.
LAMB: It's just hard to get your answer on this.
Dr. SCHOM: All right.
LAMB: When somebody says, `So-and-so met their Waterloo'...
Dr. SCHOM: Yeah.
LAMB: ...first of all, where is Waterloo? And...
Dr. SCHOM: Just south of--just south of Brussels, 15 minutes south of Brussels.
LAMB: And what does it mean, and what year did Napoleon meet his Waterloo?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, that was his last formal engagement. That was in June of 1815, when he was defeated by the Duke of Wellington and the allied German-Prussian armies in a combined effort to finally defeat Napoleon. Even though--even then, they almost got through, but Wellington held his line. In fact, Wellington held him off with 27,000 British troops. They were holding off the entire French army.
And the French will never admit this, and--which I'd mentioned at a colloquium in Brussels last year, much to the dismay of my French colleagues because the whole thing was in French and everyone there was French or Belgian. So what it means is he was finally defeated once and for all.
LAMB: At the time he had the most number of troops under his command, how many were there?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, after he established the peace, he built up his army from 200,000; now that he had peace, he had a standing army of over 600,000 men, which was enormous. By today's standards, it would be enormous.
LAMB: You have any idea how many people lived in France back in the 1800--the early 1800s?
Dr. SCHOM: I would say about 25 million to 28 million.
LAMB: Now you started--where were you born?
Dr. SCHOM: I was born in Sterling, Illinois.
LAMB: And where did you go to college?
Dr. SCHOM: I went to Berkeley.
LAMB: And when you were growing up, what was life like in Sterling, Illinois? Where is it, by the way?
Dr. SCHOM: Well...
LAMB: Where is it located?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, that's on the Rock River in northwestern Illinois and closer to the Mississippi. It's about 110 miles west of Chicago.
LAMB: Is it near Galena?
Dr. SCHOM: Not far from Galena.
LAMB: The only reason I bring that up is 'cause we just talked another show about U.S. Grant.
Dr. SCHOM: Oh, yes.
LAMB: And U.S. Grant studied Napoleon when he was at West Point. Why would you study Napoleon, and what would the skill be for somebody?
Dr. SCHOM: Do you know-- they're still doing it? And I'll tell you, at--and I was talking to the colonel in charge of these courses at the Ecole Militaire who was in charge of all these. He was a professor of military strategy and history, Colonel Cle...
LAMB: What's Ecole Militaire?
Dr. SCHOM: ...Col--Colonel Lenome. And...
LAMB: What is that, though?
Dr. SCHOM: Oh, I m--well, I mean--oh, the Ecole Militaire?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, today it is the senior superior war school...
LAMB: In France.
Dr. SCHOM: ...in France, yes.
Dr. SCHOM: And they still every year take out their--take
their students out to these different battlefields and they survey these plans; they still do this. And I think they were doing it fairly recently even at Sandhurst. I was discussing this with David Chandler, who was a professor of military history there for 33 years. He just retired a couple of years ago. And so they're still doing it.
And, in fact, --one of my French --friends, General Schecks, was telling me he just came back from a visit. He retired a couple years ago; he was a major general and, in fact, the-in charge of the French legation with --with NATO. I'm sorry, I keep thinking in French. And he just came back from Austerlitz. So they're still doing it.
LAMB: What's Austerlitz?
Dr. SCHOM: The very famous battle--one of his most important battles in 1805 because before that--two months before that, he was about to be overthrown and collapse because his --invasion plans for England had failed and he was bankrupt. The country was bankrupt because he'd spent two years robbing the treasury-literally robbing it--and the French people and forcing hundreds of thousands of francs--millions of francs of all the occupied countries to prepare for the invasion of England, which was a total flop. And that's why he sold Louisiana, because he needed the money to pay for the creation of these --2,000-some -- ships.
LAMB: So that's one place he's had an impact on Americans, by selling us the Louisiana Purchase.
Dr. SCHOM: Yes, indeed.
LAMB: For how much money, what year?
Dr. SCHOM: Oh, that's a good question. I think it was--originally for something like $80 million. And...
LAMB: Thomas Jefferson.
Dr. SCHOM: And then it was, I think--but I think finally it was reduced to about $50-some million.
LAMB: But he was responsible for selling it.
Dr. SCHOM: Oh, yes.
LAMB: And why did he sell it to us?
Dr. SCHOM: He was broke. Well, for two reasons. One, he wanted to bring in a large army of 30,000 men to invade Louisiana, which was then his property. It was his legal property; it was sold to him by the Spaniards. They were forced to do so. And he had plans--and the Americans, I think, know very little about this--plans under General La Claire to lead an army there and expand throughout the Louisiana territory against the Americans.
But that fell through. General La Claire died of yellow fever. His entire army was wiped out in Haiti and in Santo Domingo and--through disease, chiefly. There was the Negro uprising, the--and, in fact, the slave uprising against the French there. And then against--added to that, you had the problem of disease, which we faced even when building Panama.
LAMB: I keep writing--reading in your book that he kept reinstituting slavery in France.
Dr. SCHOM: Well, he--actually, he did it once. He did it once. I think there's a misprint in there someplace. He-the-French Revolution had abolished it. But soon as Napoleon got back, he--in his code of law, etc., he reinstituted slavery.
LAMB: Let's go--we've got two tracks going here.
Dr. SCHOM: Yes.
LAMB: You were born in Sterling, Illinois...
Dr. SCHOM: Yes.
LAMB: ...and went to Berkeley.
Dr. SCHOM: Went to Berkeley.
LAMB: What was your family life like? What'd your parents do when you were growing up?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, I should point out that when I was early in high school, my father retired early. I come from a very lazy family, myself included. And they moved to California where most of our family was. In fact, most of the family had been there since 1918. And, also, my father didn't like shoveling snow, I think. And so that's what they were doing. They were there. And then I went to Berkeley, obviously.
LAMB: What kind of work did he do, your dad?
Dr. SCHOM: Oh, he invested his money. As I said, we're a very lazy family, although investing money is rather painstaking at times. And then I went on for my graduate school at Durham University, because I wanted to write on the French colonies, and I didn't want a French degree. And every university I went to wouldn't take it. They wanted me to do--I went to Cambridge; I went to Oxford. And they said, `That's fine, but you're in England. Do something on an English colony or an English person.' They wanted me to do India or, you know, the--South Africa or something like that. I didn't want to because I had been preparing for this for years.
And so I finally went to Durham. They said, `That's all right. We'll do this because we have an expert here on North Africa,' who was a retired English ambassador who was teaching Middle Eastern history then, Frank Bagley. And Frank Bagley accepted because his French was very--his--not only his French, he was a typical Etonian, a superb linguist in this case.
He said he'd accept it, but I'd have to take a crash course in Arabic 'cause I'd have to be able to read Arabic law and Arabic history in Arabic. He said, `You cannot talk about North Africa.' And I wanted to write about Morocco, the protectorate of Morocco. Because I wanted to know how do you set up a protectorate from scratch. And I always asked very simple questions because I'm very curious.
Anyway, so I had to take this one-year crash course in Arabic, and they had and they had only one in all--the whole of England, and it was for English army officers, who are about to be posted to the Middle East. So we had all these charming fellows in there learning Arabic. And I remember my friend, the professor there, who said, `Major Thompson, how do you say "see" in Arabic?' And he said (Arabic spoken). And that's the sort of course it was.
LAMB: Now when did you first get interested in Napoleon?
Dr. SCHOM: Ah. I'll tell you, I didn't even know I did. When I was an undergraduate at Berkeley, we had a superb history department; I think perhaps the best in the United States then. Professors from everywhere and at all levels in Greek history, Roman history, Middle Eastern history, Far Eastern history--superb Western European. And I was--I-my concentration was on French history. That's when Bob Paxton was teaching there. And he was superb.
But I started taking courses in this and I found myself back in the stacks of the old library, which have now been removed, unfortunately. And I--you spend time back there and you don't even know these books exist. And you find all these memoirs of all these soldiers and, of course, I found a -they wrote--there were so many memoirs written about this period by the people who were there--men and women.
A lot of women wrote their memoirs, which means one can cross-index the whole thing and see the same event from many different viewpoints. But the memoirs were well-written and they're fascinating. And that's when I began. So I was about 18 or 19.
LAMB: And you've written other books.
Dr. SCHOM: Oh, yeah.
LAMB: How many?
Dr. SCHOM: That were published? Let's see, I wrote "Trafalgar," "One Hundred Days," "Napoleon"--sorry, "Emile Zola," a biography of Zola, and then early on as a young professor of history, I wrote a book on the French protectorate of Morocco.
LAMB: You dedicate the book to Emile Zola, who gave his life to the struggle for historical truth. Who was he?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, Emile Zola, of course, was the famous--perhaps one of the--perhaps the most famous novelist of the 19th century. And there are many famous ones. He wrote a series of novels --which he became famous for, criticizing the second empire under Napoleon III. And-but he became most famous for his support of Captain Dreyfus during the Dreyfus case, and he was one of the very few in the whole of France. And--but he continued to do it. He was even forced to flee for his life. He had to flee--spend a year in England. And I know--it's very odd. I know the solicitor who was the grandson of the original solicitor who protected him in England. It was Frederick Warib who'd protected him, his lawyer there. So he spent one year in England in seclusion. But the threats continued against his wife, against him, against his mistress and his two children. And they finally killed him.
LAMB: What year did you write that book?
Dr. SCHOM: It was published in '87.
LAMB: Another dedication is to the memory of Stefan Zweig who cherished and worked for a vision of Europe far different from that of --Napoleon. Who was he?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, Napol--again, a very, very famous Austrian novelist from Vienna who went to the Genazium with all the famous writers of the--of that day including such people as Lena Maria Wilka, the very famous poet. And he was a very famous novelist, but chiefly a --a very popular historical biographer of Marie Antoinette, of Freud, of all sorts of people.
But he also, during World War I, was an officer--a very low officer in the Austrian army. And he didn't know what life was like in these occupied areas. And especially he saw the various Jewish areas. And he himself was a Jew, but was not a practicing Jew. And he was sent to the Lutzen areas where they had all these communities, and he'd never even--he had never visited these communities. And when he saw the appalling conditions of war, and then saw--visited also on the front line, he became a dedicated pacifist.
And he wrote a play during World War I called "Jeramias--Jeremiah," pleading for peace. And he deserted Austria in the middle of the war and went to -- he lived in Zurich, ...(unintelligible), which still stands in the hills overlooking Zurich, if you're ever there. And he dedicated the rest of his life to the peace process.
LAMB: What year did you graduate from Berkeley?
Dr. SCHOM: I was in the--class of '59.
LAMB: And what did you do from '59 till 10 years ago when you moved over to France?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, I taught history. And I resigned rather early. I waited after I got promotion, etc. And I was very unhappy doing that. I...
LAMB: Where were you teaching?
Dr. SCHOM: I was teaching French history.
Dr. SCHOM: Modern French history. At Southern Connecticut State University and the University of California at Riverside. But what I really wanted to do was research and read. And I was very, very, very curious. And --that started in high school--when I was in Beverly Hills High School. Tha-became a veritable disease. Controlled my entire life. But I just-I don't know. I'd go to bed every night with a stack of books. And I was very frustrated because I could only attack one at a time. So...
LAMB: Go back to this period, though. Here...
Dr. SCHOM: Yes.
LAMB: He--if the dates are correct, Napoleon was born in 1769.
Dr. SCHOM: That's right.
LAMB: Died in 1821.
Dr. SCHOM: That's right.
LAMB: During the years that he was active--what year did he become the emperor?
Dr. SCHOM: 1804.
LAMB: Dur--what was living in France like during his most active years? Late '70s...
Dr. SCHOM: Well, it was absolutely chaotic. The Directorate was absolutely corrupt. The revolutionary governments before that were absolutely corrupt. But at least for the time being, a new constitution was created for these five men to control the country. But then they became so corrupt--in fact, they were always corrupt--that the country was totally out of control. The was no economy. It was absolute chaos. So Napoleon was welcome because he did one very good thing, I think. He stopped the revolution dead. He brought order. And he ended the revolution in almost every sense of the word.
LAMB: How many years was he in control?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, he was in control from the end of November 1799 until 1814.
LAMB: And what was the country like during those years?
Dr. SCHOM: The first few years were good because he did not stress the war aspect of this, of his nature. He suppressed that with a great deal of difficulty, but he did it. And he brought such stability that the merchants finally brought out heir money which they had buried. And the French still bury their money in their garden, believe it or not, when they don't have it in secret Swiss accounts to avoid taxes. And there are over 100,000 of those accounts still in Switzerland.
He really encouraged--the people really believed him. They said, `This is a man after us.' He ca--he was--his career only resulted because of the revolution. Under normal circumstances, he would never have become a general in the French army. But--so he brought peace, he brought stability, he brought security. And there was very little in the way of conscription. So people were not complaining that their sons and husbands and friends were being taken away in very large numbers. And the war was not a major problem.
But after 1804--in fact, as of 1803, he really started showing his colors when he decided he was going to invade England. So from 1803 to 1805 he really built up the--his--what they called `La Grande Armee,' the great army, and with it, this fleet of over 2,000 vessels which he built or stole for the invasion of England. And that changed everything. In other words, from 1803 on, he was set on only one thing: war.
LAMB: When was he in Elba, where is Elba, and how long did he stay there?
Dr. SCHOM: Elba is just off the west coast of lower Italy, just a few miles. You can see Elba from the island. From--you can see Elba from the mainland and the mainland from the island. He was there from 1813--1814 when he finally accepted defeat and was forced to go into exile there, and then he came back in March--actually the very end of February. He built up a little flotilla of five boats and he had all of 1,000 men, most of whom had never marched in an army before. And he had some very small pieces of artillery, but nothing to pull them, so he had to abandon them. And he landed in--what they call the Gulf de Zwan, which is the Gulf of--between Antibes and Cannes.
LAMB: And you say he moved right on back up to Paris?
Dr. SCHOM: Yes. He -- I tried to describe it. I traced most of the route myself on various occasions and from the starting point. You would never recognize the Gulf of Zwan today. It's filled with little small restaurants and things like that and hotels and you cannot even see the gulf anymore. You cannot see the beach where he landed. But in those days, it was just olive trees.
So he literally--he went up from there from Cannes to Grasse and then from Grasse, which is the--at the bottom of the foothills, he then marched steadily up into the Sorbonne to Castillon and all the way to Digne and then ultimate--ultimately to Grenoble and Lyon.
LAMB: People have been to Paris, you know, the--or seen the pictures, --the Louvre.
Dr. SCHOM: Mm.
LAMB: What was that when he was there in--when he was the emperor?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, it was--the Louvre. It was part of the royal palace.
LAMB: Where did he live?
Dr. SCHOM: Where did whom live?
Dr. SCHOM: Ah, Napoleon. Napoleon lived in the Tuileries. Now what you have today is--are the--well, the Louvre like this, and nothing here. But before that, during Napoleon's time, until 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, there was a Tuileries Palace, which was the official place where the French kings and queens lived. And that's where he lived. That's where...
LAMB: So he lived right down the Place de Concorde?
Dr. SCHOM: That's right. It overlooked it.
LAMB: And where did the Arc de Triomphe come from?
Dr. SCHOM: Where di--Napoleon built that for himself.
Dr. SCHOM: Oh, I forget when he started it, but it was early
Dr. SCHOM: To celebrate his great victories. Because he had--he was a very traditional scholar in that sense, as a historian. He admired the Romans and the Greeks. He studied them in tremendous detail. He read every book he could get on them. And he knew Greek and Roman history backward and especially the military histories and the constitutional histories as well. He knew all the constitutions. It's really quite amazing. He was a brilliant man. Absolutely brilliant.
Anyway, he wanted to revive the spirit and he had very little imagination, so he couldn't think of anything new. Fortunately, he didn't build a Pompidou Center, but he did build this. And he never finished it. It was a massive thing. It was a massive thing. And on it he was supposed to have all the names of all his generals and admirals who did something very, very important in the--in the military development of France.
LAMB: In and around the time that he was in control, who else was--who were the kings?
Dr. SCHOM: When he was in control?
LAMB: No. Before and after, you know, and in that period there.
Dr. SCHOM: Oh. The French kings?
Dr. SCHOM: Ah. Well, you had, obviously, Louis XVI, who was the last Bourbon king. But he was arrested and then assassinated or executed in La Place de la Concorde, which was, in those days, called La Place de la Revolution, but before that, Place of Louis XV. So he was guillotined there in 1793, and that ended his reign. Then his wife soon followed and they killed his son --in the Temple. And even though the French history books do not say that, he disappeared permanently and his body is not in his grave because Jean Tolare, who is the great French professor of Napoleonic history at the Sorbonne, told me he was on the official commission to open his grave and they found the body of a 15- or 17-year-old instead of a little boy.
I'm losing the thread of this...
LAMB: Now go back to the--he--after he had been exiled to Elba...
Dr. SCHOM: Yeah.
LAMB: ...and he came back to Paris...
Dr. SCHOM: Yes.
LAMB: ...how long was he in control then when he came back?
Dr. SCHOM: Oh, for a very short time. And that's what we call the 100--they call it the Hundred Days. It was longer than 100 days. But the French use this term --`les cent jours.' And so I wrote this book called this--"One Hundred Days" because I wanted to know precisely what happened when this happened because it--as I say, it began, when he officially landed in France, in--on the 1st of March and by the 20th of March or 21st of March, he was in Paris.
LAMB: What year was this?
Dr. SCHOM: This is 1815. And, of course, by June--the whole thing was over by the middle of June. There was the Battle of Waterloo.
LAMB: What's happening over here in the United States in 1815?
Dr. SCHOM: That's a good question. I'm very bad at American history. Well, of course, the war with Britain was over. They're rebuilding Washington, DC, at this stage.
LAMB: In 1815, how did they depose Napoleon?
Dr. SCHOM: In 1815, Napoleon really deposed himself by coming back in defeat. Napoleon was very unpopular. And in one--that's why I wrote the book on Hundred Days to show, really, how widespread the anger of the average Frenchman, the masses, were--how angry they were against Napoleon. Because, one, he had killed off an entire generation. One million Frenchmen alone were killed off and then two million other Europeans. The --the-many others returned as permanent cripples. The French--the entire French economy was --stagnant. There was no money coming in. Napoleon suppressed all legislative freedom. No one could speak out. If they did, they were thrown into jail or worse.
So he was very, very unpopular before the war began. And he knew that--he was informed by --his closest associates that if he did not come back a winner, he was lost. Well, he did not come back a winner. In fact, he came back all by himself. He had lost an entire army, another army. And he had lost so many of them before. He had lost hundreds of thousands in Spain and then over nearly 500,000 in Russia during the Russian campaign. And this was the limit because he was conscripting 160--even 200,000 young boys, I'm talking about 17-, 16- and even 15-year-old boys, to fight. Some of them couldn't even carry a bayonet--a musket--these were very heavy in those days--they were so young and so puny, as the local doctors--the army doctors were complaining.
So he was just--he lost the war. He came back. And all his friends said, `That's enough.' Even his own ministers, the men whom he had created, even Davout, Tauron, of course--Prince Tauron, naturally, was against him and he had been for many years. Cadinau was against him, his own minister for the interior, before that. Everyone was. And so when he came back, they said, `You have to go back to Malmaison and keep yourself under house arrest.'
LAMB: Where is Mal Maison located?
Dr. SCHOM: Mal Maison is just outside Paris. It's not very far. It's about a 30-minute drive. And it's lovely. It's still the--it's still the essence--the nucleus of the old estate, although there're only--probably --less than 100 acres now. But there were many hundreds of acres in those days. And this was the home of Josephine. This was her house.
LAMB: You say that they brought his body back to Paris in 1840 and put it--Invalides?
Dr. SCHOM: Yes. In the Invalides, yes.
LAMB: Right there. Right near the Louvre and right near...
Dr. SCHOM: Oh, yes. Yes.
LAMB: Can you go in and see it?
Dr. SCHOM: It's in a -- circular room. It's--you look down on it.
LAMB: And is it the kind of attention that Abraham Lincoln would get here?
Dr. SCHOM: Oh, yes. Yes. The French--you really cannot--sometimes they will laugh and they will say, `Oh, Napoleon,' but then they add--in the same breaths, they say, `But he gave us gloire,' glory. And it's something for--I think for--what--the French will refer to us as the Anglo-Saxons. We're not--we're not very popular in France. And we--for us, it's absolutely impossible to understand--what is glory? I mean, this is only the French. Of all the people in the world, only the French people talk about this glory. And we don't do that. When we have a war, we simply fight because we have to. And it's--we feel that we have to. But...
LAMB: When he lost at Waterloo and he came back to Paris, what happened then? Where did he go?
Dr. SCHOM: After Waterloo, well, he was ordered to leave the country and he was given a lot of money. He was able to take quite a bit of money with him. And he got as far as the coast near La Rochelle, in the south of France, southwest coast there. And he tried to get out. His brother, Joseph, who was the only brother who ever remained faithful to him, through thick and thin and despite all that Napoleon had done against him to destroy him practically--Joseph had hired an American ship--vessel, which was a--a neutral flag, to take him away. But the British blocked the passage, the channel, and they couldn't get out. And finally Napoleon was taken aboard the Bellerophon and taken over to Plymouth. He was not permitted to land and then he was--switched ships to another vessel, which took him to straight to St. Helena.
LAMB: Now we've got some videotape--we just wanted to show the audience where St. Helena is.
Dr. SCHOM: OK.
LAMB: On the screen there it's that dot. And as the camera pulls back, you'll see that it's off the coast of Africa. Who owned this island?
Dr. SCHOM: This was owned by the East India Company. It wasn't even official government property. And the British government in London requested the use of this as a prison, and the East India Company were only too happy to do so because he had--Napoleon had caused such losses for them.
LAMB: What year did they take him there?
Dr. SCHOM: 1815.
LAMB: How long did he stay there?
Dr. SCHOM: Until he died in 1821.
LAMB: What was his life like for those six years?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, if you were to read the accounts of Jean Tolare or any other of the French historians, which was all a total fabrication, he led a miserable life; they kept him in a hovel, not given enough food to eat, a dreary sort of existence, not allowed to have exercise.
In fact, what they do, they --they gave him the house of the lieutenant governor--the British governor, and asked the British governor to move out for him, which was many hundreds of acres. He had a nice set of stables there. He was given -- I think he had a couple dozen servants there. He had a stable of horses for himself and his closest --French officers whom he brought with him. He was allowed to bring-choose his own officers.
He had his own doctors there and he also was given access to the British--to the governor, Governor Lowe, who was a marvelous man. He was not--he was a very phlegmatic man and the French could not understand that because he never showed emotion, but whenever Napoleon needed money, he lent him money. Whenever he needed books--and anyone up there that were--going star--starry mad up there out of boredom after awhile, he gave them that. He gave them a billiard table. He gave them a piano. And yet, according to the French and Tolare and all these others, the British were terrible.
Anyway, he had these dozens of servants. He had his own doctors for medical purposes, his own stables, his own friends. He was given a tremendous amount of--I forget, I listed it in the book there--all the hundreds of pounds of meat he was given every day of--it's really amazing. And yet I explain why they created this myth: to create some sort of artificial outrage by the French and the rest of Europe at the treatment of this poor Napoleon Bonaparte, this mass murderer, and his situation in St. Helena.
LAMB: Where was his wife Marie-Louise?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, she and her lover Neipperg, Count Neipperg, moved--were required to move back to Vienna. The son was isolated from them, Napoleon's son, who was after--first, at that time, called the king of Rome. And then after Napoleon's death, Napoleon II. But then the--I think the Austrians, when the boy finally reached the age, several years later, of 20, 21, --he suddenly died under most mysterious circumstances. And I think he was killed because he was a strapping boy. He was a very--he was a handsome boy. He was very strong. He was a good horseman, swordsman, etc., and then he suddenly just withered away and died.
LAMB: Are there any descendants alive today?
Dr. SCHOM: Napoleon's?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, from the illegal branch, yes. Count Valevski is. And he's a charming man and he gave me--he helped me tremendously on this. And, oddly enough, he's very much like him. He looks a bit like him. And when he was sitting at the table with me, he would, what the French call `feute'-he would keep twisting his hands around with papers and shifting them about very nervously. And, also, his eyes darted back and forth and the same color as Napoleon's, the blue-gray. And they darted back and forth. He can never stare at you or stare at an object. And so he's still alive and he has a son, a very handsome boy, and they're a delightful family.
LAMB: You have a family tree right in the front of your book. And it's on the screen right now. What I wanted to show is you that somewhere in this family tree is Napoleon three-or III, you see it down there; I've got it circled. Where did he fit in and did he run France at one point?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, Napoleon III of--was the illegal --child of Hortense, the stepdaughter of Napoleon, the daughter of Josephine--of Hortense and the bastard son of Tauron-the Prince Tauron. And he was known as the Count of Flao. And, anyway, these--they had this son--this illegitimate son, Napoleon, who became Napoleon--Louis Napoleon, or afterwards, Napoleon III. First, he was president of France in 1848, after the next republic was set up. And then he overthrew the republic and set up his own empire, which lasted from, let's say roughly, 1850, 1851, right to 1970--1870, sorry. And in 1870, he was overthrown when he was defeated by the Prussians during the Franco-Prussian War.
LAMB: How did he die, meaning Napoleon Bonaparte.
Dr. SCHOM: Yeah--oh, Napoleon Bonaparte.
LAMB: The -- number one. The one.
Dr. SCHOM: Number one. Ah, yes. Napoleon was poisoned. And part of --most of it was intentional. And this--and it was only until recently that Ben Wei--Weider and his colleague, who has now died, his Swedish scientist--Ben Weider's not a scientist, but his colleague was, and they did this very scientifically. It had took them many years and at great expense. They finally established that he was definitely--there was--someone was poison--poisoning him steadily over a period of several years. And because of the hair--the original hair they have of Napoleon, they are able to measure, recently, the level of--levels of arsenic. And some people said, `Well, yes, there's arsenic in wallpaper or, you know, the lead there,' but that's at a very low level. These were extremely high levels. He--Ben Weider, in his excellent book, shows the graphs with--that they got from the FBI laboratory and the Harwell Atomic Laboratory in-outside London. And so this was definitely done.
In the meantime, there were other medications the doctors were giving him, which also contained poisons in themselves when combined with other things. And someone was adding ingredients to that as well. And it was obvious his poisoner. So it was a combination of inadvertent poisoning by the doctors, but--which would never have killed him, but it was the basic arsenic and then the other, which was a type of cyanide. And it killed him.
LAMB: Is there any aspect of his life that's not documented? I mean, in--where is the most documentation in the world of Napoleon?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, the most documentation, of course, is in Paris. The French arch--national archives are absolutely superb, superb. There are millions and millions of documents. Just to give you an example, when I was doing the Trafalgar campaign, I had hundreds of thousands of documents I had to read just for that one little period, that two-year naval period, hundreds of thousands. So that will give you some idea. They're absolutely superb.
LAMB: It's all in French?
Dr. SCHOM: Yes. Yes.
LAMB: And you speak fluent French?
Dr. SCHOM: Yes. Yes.
LAMB: Going back over this 888-page book...
Dr. SCHOM: Yeah.
LAMB: ...how much of this did you retrace yourself? Did you ever go to Elba or St. Helena?
Dr. SCHOM: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. I didn't go to St. Helena and I did not go to Russia. But I went through Israel to go to the site of Aker where the castle which he allegedly destroyed, and, for some reason, is still standing. And I went--I traced him all the way down the coastline down to El Eriche, where they had that battle there, the fortress in the oasis there and--which is worth visiting. I don't know if it's still open to the public. I visited it when it had been captured, I think, at that stage.
Then I went across the whole of Spain where his armies were involved in battles. And that was quite a job. It's a huge country and I lost my car in the process with a broken axle, but I got my battles. I didn't get to every place in Portugal. I visited almost all of France, wherever he was in garrison. Wherever there's a little museum here or a little museum there, and there are hundreds of these all over the place. And then, of course, I went through Belgium, which you have to do, and I inspected the Battle of Waterloo, the actual battlefield, which is still there intact because it is still used as fields. And if anyone ever really wants to get a feel of what it was really like, they should go there in the middle of June.
LAMB: In the end, what was his skill?
Dr. SCHOM: He was a genius. And this is very interesting because they usually--and I didn't mention this earlier, but his epilepsy--this is when you asked --the thing least really recorded--his epileptic fits, in part because people really didn't know what it was, so I gave several fits-several examples of this. Now this is suppressed by the people, by all of his biographers. All the French biographers suppress that completely. But --we don't know --to what extent that happened continually.
LAMB: You even have a scene where Talleyrand was standing there when he had an epileptic fit...
Dr. SCHOM: That's right.
LAMB: ...he was on the ground and...
Dr. SCHOM: That's right. He almost died then. Suffocating.
LAMB: Was Talleyrand--who was he and what was he doing at the time?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, he was the minister of foreign affairs.
Dr. SCHOM: For Napoleon. And, yes, he was there and Josephine was there. So he--this is one of the least recorded things. But...
LAMB: Josephine's original name was?
Dr. SCHOM: Oh, my go--Ro...
LAMB: What it...
Dr. SCHOM: Rose. Rose.
LAMB: Who changed it to Josephine?
Dr. SCHOM: Napoleon.
Dr. SCHOM: I think he didn't like the association with her. She had a--quite an unpleasant reputation. I mean, they--everyone liked her, of course, but it wasn't the best of reputations. And --Napoleon didn't want to be married to this Rose. So he created his Josephine.
LAMB: What's next for you?
Dr. SCHOM: I don't know yet. I'm discussing this with my new agent and I don't know yet.
LAMB: Is there a movie out of this book?
Dr. SCHOM: I don't know. It's presently with a major studio and we're waiting for the report.
LAMB: What was the hardest thing for you to do in this book?
Dr. SCHOM: Well, the amount of physical and mental work was tremendous. You have absolutely no idea. I put it off for two years because I knew what I was involved with. And the last two years really proved it because I was able to sleep only four to five hours a night for the last two years. And I couldn't even take a day off. And I finally, after--every six months, I was able to take five or six days off because it was getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And it's twice as-twice the size of the book for which I had contracted with HarperCollins. And at the end I just collapsed because-one month before I was due to finish and I finally had enough strength to keep on going and then I got it done. But I think physically--and also, it was very complex because he was a genius. He was an administrative genius. He knew more than any of his ministers ever did. He had a brilliant mind. So despite all this epilepsy, which often cripples one's degree of intelligence, he--it--he went on unimpaired. And he was an absolutely brilliant man and very complex. And if you're not a psychopath, it's very hard to understand him.
LAMB: Where you gonna move to?
Dr. SCHOM: Probably England.
LAMB: Here's the cover of the book. Our guest has been Dr. Alan Schom. And the title is "Napoleon Bonaparte." We thank you very much for joining us.
Dr. SCHOM: Thank you.
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