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Back Issue, No. 13  :  Fall 1998

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Napoleon in Egypt

A French expedition sails east to strike at Britain.
Twenty-nine-year-old General Napoleon Bonaparte, conqueror of Italy, hero of the French Republic, and feared rival of the politically shaky Directory, had already led one of the more remarkable and unlikely lives in history. In embarking for Egypt -- a militarily rash act to be sure, fraught with staggering risks -- Napoleon pursued a mirage formed in the heat of his own romantic imagination; the young general and his men set off as much in pursuit of the ghosts of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar as they did to strike a blow against the hated English. In some ways, this Egyptian adventure was Napoleon's means of testing fate, and the utter confidence of his daring actions mark him as a man who firmly believed that destiny held great things for him.
By Melanie Sue Byrd, Matt DeLaMater, and Yves Martin 

The Battle of the Nile

The British navy isolates the French expedition in Egypt.
England earned a reputation for naval dominance during the Napoleonic Wars. However, before Brittania could rule the waves, it had to establish its supremacy at sea. In 1798 this superiority over its opponents was not yet absolutely certain. After a frustrating chase, Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson cornered his quarry and delivered a devastating blow to General Bonaparte's plans for Egypt. The French never recovered from this catastrophe.
By Jean Lochet and Virginia Melden

Instrument for Indoctrination and Propaganda

French opera during the Age of Napoleon.
On 12 July 1795, Napoleon wrote to his brother Joseph from Paris that he was astonished to see how quickly "luxury, pleasure, and the arts" had reappeared after the Revolutionary upheaval. He had attended a performance of Phèdre at the Opera where he was impressed with the "immense crowd, . . .the carriages, and the elegant patrons." A world of culture and refinement was reestablishing itself, as if the excesses of the Revolution had never happened. Perhaps this was the first time that Napoleon sensed the full possibilities of the arts, and of Opera in particular. Thus, when he became Emperor in 1804, he focused on Opera as a primary art form to celebrate and glorify his reign. 
By Rachel R. Schneider


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