First English Edition. Stefan Zweig is probably one of the best biographers. His biographies of Marie Antoinette, Mary Queen of Scots, and Joseph Fouche are page-turners which are hard to put down. Far from a dull litany of dates and events, his books are electric - vibrating with the life and the characters of both his heroes and all those around them. One is left with a real feel for the society, the happenings, and the motivations of a vast multitude of characters, who parade across the pages of his books in fascinating diversity. This book in particular is so well crafted that one feels one is trying to penetrate the mind of one of the most secretive of all secret policemen of history, Joseph Fouche, who knew everything about everybody and about whom nobody else knew anything. Even the Emperor was somewhat afraid of Fouche's power. Stefan Zweig in this book cunningly allows glimpses into this secret world, but leaves the reader unsure if he has divined the complete truth, or if there are still hidden facets of the mind of Joseph Fouche, and still secrets unspoken. In the end, one feels one knows Joseph Fouche better than any of his contemporaries, but not as well as Fouche knew himself. A superb book.
Joseph Fouché the Portrait of a Politician
1930 Viking Press NY