The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars resulted in an explosion of personal recollections on a scale never before witnessed, some published in the author’s lifetime, many not. These memoirs, and the stories and anecdotes told in them, shaped the images surrounding the wars for generations to come. Given the distance that often separated the writing from the event, the memoirs almost always contained projections, evasions, myths, and outright fantasies. But that is exactly where their value lies. It allows the historian to establish the extent to which those who took part in the wars began to romanticize or indeed contest them and the man most responsible for them—Napoléon—and the degree to which they engaged in the political and cultural debates of the day.
French Historical Studies Vol. 33, Issue 2, p. 231-258