History Prizes 1991

1991PrixDuportDecresAmiral Maurice DUPONT, L’amiral Decrès et Napoléon, Paris, Économica

This book is part of the Studies of maritime history, published under the guidance of the Commission française d’histoire maritime (the French Commission of maritime history). It looks at the Admiral Decrès, Napoleon’s Minister for the Marines for over twelve years, about whom he said to Caulaincourt, ‘Decrès is a witty, capable man, of strong character. But his cynicism and harsh manners are so unappealing. He’s been of great use to the Marines, but they hate him. Anyway, he’s set me right on a number of points which I had totally misunderstood.’

The author is a former submarine commandant from the Second World War, and has taught at the French navy school (Ecole de Guerre navale).

Pierre MIQUEL, La campagne de France ou les éclairs du génie, Paris, Christian Bartillat

Flashes of genius and the rising of the people…

How can you write the campaign of 1814 today? It was the first invasion of modern French history, and it saw the flood of Cossacks and Uhlans, Russians and Prussians, into local villages, a story still told by the local inhabitants. It saw the famous Marie-Louise conscripts in the French army, the direct descendents of the volunteers of 1791, drafted in to protect the tricolour in 1813. They fought under one of the three greatest military captains of all time. Napoleon’s genius was to be revealed in this campaign of four rivers – the Seine, the Aube, the Marne and the Aisne. Finally, it was the story of true realms of memory which, a hundred years later, would once again form the defence line. The Chemin-des-Dames was already in 1814 a site of bitter struggle, as were the marshes of Saint-Gond. The regions of Champagne and Île-de-France, Lorraine and Ardennes took their places in the defence of their country. And they would remain at their post until 1945.