In a dual narrative pitting human ambition and achievement against the supremacy of nature, the author of Empire of Blue Water and Mulatto America here tells the story of a mighty warrior and a tiny microbe.
"When Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812, typhus ravaged his army, killing hundreds of thousands and ensuring his defeat.... Fatalities approached 100% among Napoleon's increasingly debilitated, filthy, half-starved soldiers. [Stephan] Talty makes a good case that it was typhus, not General Winter, that crushed Napoleon.... Talty delivers a breezy, popular account of a gruesome campaign, emphasizing the equally gruesome epidemic that accompanied it."—Publishers Weekly
"An eloquent and vivid portrait that includes a view through the telescopes of rear-echelon commanders, the rifle sights of front-line skirmishers, and the clouded spectacles of field surgeons laboring in candlelit abattoirs ... the finest kind of popular history."—William Rosen