Books: Napoleonic Tour

MIRAGE (726 pp.)—Ruth McKenney —Farrar, Straus & Cudahy ($4.95).

This huge historical novel gives the impression of having been written by two different authors—one whose job it was to put plenty of sex on every other page; the other a Francophile intent on cramming in as much esoteric knowledge as possible about Napoleon, Egypt, archaeology, physics, intrigue and strategy. Fortunately, both writers are combined in Humorist Ruth (My Sister Eileen) McKenney, so that sex is more often ridiculous than salacious, and the historical asides often get a witty assist over the dusty pit of pedantry.

During the French Revolution, Rémi Saint-Victor and the...

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