At first I found this book very hard going. Zamoyski gets bogged down at times in details which while of import actually detract from the story he is trying to tell. I love detailed background in a history book but this was quite annoying and made it difficult to really get into the flow of the book. Once the story had progressed to the actual entry into Russian territory the narrative picked up and the book became much better. I would have liked to have seen more from the Russian side as I really got the impression that the book was more concerned with the tragic calamities that befell the Grande Armee. This probably has a lot to do with the available texts which seemed to be predominantly French or from the allies of the France.
The book really comes into it’s own in the account of the retreat from Moscow. Everything until that point feels like an introduction, the passion of the writing increases greatly from that point onwards. The retreat is harrowing. The depths to which many sank are disturbing but scarily understandable. The book is masterful in it’s description of these events and actually rescued my opionion of the book as a whole. It took me weeks to make it through the first half of the book and about a week to make it through the rest. A full book with the skill of the second half would make me buy another Zamoyski title.