Hard Cover. London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, 1830. First Edition. Fine.
Four volumes. Finely bound by Bayntun in crushed dark navy morocco, gilt borders to boards with decorative designs at corners, titles and designs in gilt to spine, gilt turn-ins, top edge gilt, marbled endpapers. A near fine and sturdy set with light wear along outer hinges, offsetting to endpapers, and a very shallow chip to head of spine on Vol III. Overall, a bright and unfaded set. Private Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte is a first-hand account of Napoleon's life and rise to power written by Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne, a childhood friend of Napoleon's who went on to serve as his private secretary. Likely due to Bourrienne's shady financial dealings while working under Napoleon, the two ultimately had a bitter falling out and never spoke to each other again. After their falling out Bourrienne changed loyalties and helped with the Bourbon restoration in 1815. In Private Memoirs, Bourrienne praises Napoleon's strategic brilliance, while also criticizing him and his autocratic tendencies. The book's iconoclastic elements created a lot of outrage among Bonapartists at the time of its release. There is some skepticism surrounding the reliability of the author's accounts given his complicated relationship with the subject. Nonetheless, the book offers a unique look at Napoleon through the eyes of someone intimately acquainted with him. Commenting on the work, Goethe wrote, "All of the nimbus, all of the illusions, with which journalists and historians have surrounded Napoleon, vanishes before the awe-inspiring realisms of this book…" This beautiful Bayntun-bound set is "extra illustrated," containing custom illustrations that were added during the binding process.