Books: Oh Mistress Mine

EMPRESS JOSEPHINE by Ernest Knap-ton. 359 pages. Harvard. $6.95.

Marie-Josephe-Rose de Tascher de la Pagerie had two great loves. One was "Napoleon Bonaparte, who called her "my matchless little mother" and made her his Empress; the other was Paul Barras, revolutionist and member of the Directory, who remarked that "she would have drunk gold out of the skull of her lover" and referred to her as "the lewd Creole." Barras' estimate of Josephine was the one accepted by most 19th century biographers of Napoleon —chiefly, suggests Historian Ernest Knapton, because she left behind so few words in her own defense (only one...

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