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The illustrious dead : the terrifying story of how typhus killed Napoleon's grea
Talty, Stephan.
Adult Nonfiction DC235 .T27 2009

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From Publishers' Weekly:

When Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812, typhus ravaged his army, killing hundreds of thousands and ensuring his defeat, according to this breathless combination of military and medical history. After summarizing the havoc this disease wreaked on earlier armies and sketching Napoleon's career, the book describes his invasion of Russia with more than 600,000 men. Almost immediately typhus struck. Infected lice excrete the microbe in their feces, and victims acquire the disease by scratching the itchy bite. Talty (Mulatto America) describes the effects in graphic detail: severe headache, high fever, delirium, generalized pain and a spotty rash. Death may take weeks, and fatalities approached 100% among Napoleon's increasingly debilitated, filthy, half-starved soldiers. Talty makes a good case that it was typhus, not "General Winter," that crushed Napoleon. Readers should look elsewhere for authoritative histories of Napoleon's wars and of infectious diseases, but Talty delivers a breezy, popular account of a gruesome campaign, emphasizing the equally gruesome epidemic that accompanied it. 12 maps. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

As much a history of typhus as it is a history of Napoleon's invasion of Russia, this book presents both subjects in graphic detail, leaving the reader with no illusions of the "glory" of 19th-century warfare. In the spring of 1812, Napoleon assembled the largest army seen in Europe up to that time for the invasion and conquest of Russia-690,000 men under arms, most of whom would actually cross into Russian territory, followed by approximately 50,000 civilians. That's more people than lived then in Paris; this moving population would have ranked as the fifth-largest city in the world. Some 500,000 of them would never return, less than a quarter of them dying as a result of combat; the reason for most of the deaths is the subject of this book. Using contemporary sources, Talty (Empire of Blue Water) presents the whole horrifying experience as lived by the common soldier, the doctors, and officers up the ranks to the generals. He makes his case for the typhus being transmitted by the body louse. Strangely enough, the disease was no longer prevalent in Europe after 1814. Strongly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/09.].-David Lee Poremba, Winderemere, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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