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A Short Biography of Napoleon : points to be observed



(1)      Bias - Balance of Coverage
            In historiography, Napoleon is a controversial character; some authors regard him as a hero, others as a villain. This text attempts to maintain a neutral position, for instance by comparing how he was viewed by contemporaries in Germany, Spain and Russia with how he was viewed by contemporaries in Poland
            this neutral stand is violated where terms as "the upstart" and "the turncoat" are used to describe Napoleon.
            The text is divided into a neutral narrative (the first 15 paragraphs) and analysis (the last two paragraphs). In the analysis, the choice of judgmental, value-laden terms (applied modestly), as done here, is legitimate

(2)      Omissions
            Compared to the other texts posted in this section, the Short Biography of Napoleon is rather detailed.
            Yet, important aspects are omitted, for instance his marriages with Josephine and Marie Christine of Habsburg.
            A historian has to describe a complex development in a text limited in length. It is his task to select and compose relevant information in an organized manner. This means he has to sort out seemingly less relevant information, and that can lead to omissions.
            The question is : is an omission the result of oversight, or the consequence of circumstances and wilful decision ?
            In some U.S. publications the phrase "Lie of Omission" is used. This term fits the terminologie of inflammatory ultra-right wing radio hosts and is out of place in serious historical accounts.

(3)      Distance from Sources
            In this text, once a term characteristic for how nobles viewed themselves prior to the revolution ("personne de qualite") is used. The author properly indicates this by using quotation marks, and thus expresses that this is not his judgment.
            Twice, Paris newspapers are quoted. Again, the author properly uses quotation marks, expressing distance from the source.

(4)      References
            No reference necessary in case of the Thomas Nipperdey book.
            References (notes) necessary in case of the Paris newspapers
            Reference (note) desirable in case of the "personne de qualite"
            Reference list desirable

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