Books: The Retreat

NAPOLEON'S RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN (306 pp.)—Philippe-Paul de Ségur—Hough-ion Mifflin ($5).

Count de Ségur's famed diary of Napoleon's Russian campaign is not just another book about Bonaparte; it is the main source of a thousand schoolbooks, cartoons, legends, sermons and second thoughts for would-be conquerors. Nor is it simply a great and exciting war story. To Ségur, as it did to most who survived it, the retreat from Moscow had a deeper personal and political meaning. As a ruined aristocrat who embraced the French Revolution and became aide-decamp to the Emperor, Ségur took the long, cold view:

"After fifteen hundred years of victories, the...