Mme de Staël’s works are once again being read, but she deserves to be remembered as a realist as well as a fabulist

Two new and remarkable books prove how Waterloo will continue to divide historians for centuries

Andrew Roberts’s account of the life ‘Napoleon the Great’ is magisterial and beautifully written

Brendan Simms’s new epic history of Europe is an earnest and old-fashioned of great power rivalries

Russia Against Napoleon by Dominic Lieven

The Emperor Napoleon carries all before him. He insists that in every town he enters, bells are rung. He comes to a town where there is total silence. He summons the Mayor: ‘why aren’t the bells ringing?’ The Mayor replies: ‘There are three reasons, Your Royal Highness, firstly we have no bells,’ ‘Enough’, says Napoleon.