War and Peace
I’m reading Tolstoy’s celebrated novel War and Peace. Much of it that relates to war is historical. Midpoint in the narrative Tolstoy describes Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 and states: “On the 12th of June the forces of Western Europe crossed the frontier, and the war began, that is, an event took place opposed to human reason and all human nature. Millions of men perpetrated against one another so great a mass of crime — fraud, swindling, robbery, forgery, issue of counterfeit money, plunder, incendiarism, and murder — that the annals of all the criminal courts of the world could not muster such a sum of wickedness in whole centuries, though the men who committed those deeds did not at that time look bon them as crimes.*
Napoleon was an archetypal example of sociopathy and narcissism. His rise and fall supplies one of the great lessons of history, one from which others with these characteristics are incapable of learning.
* Constance Garnett translation