It is 1803. Napoleon Bonaparte is ready to invade and conquer England. To foil him, William Pitt finances a plot by a French royalist general, Georges Cadoudal, to kidnap or kill Bonaparte and restore the Bourbons. But ironically, Bonaparte exposes and uses the Cadoudal Conspiracy to become Emperor of France. No mean plotter, he unravels the conspiracy then ruthlessly orders a judicial murder and several other assassinations to create his dynasty.
All characters in the book are authentic and based on the testimony of Napoleon and the other protagonists in the drama.


On Christmas Eve 1800 Bonaparte and his wife, Joséphine, miraculously escape being blown up. With his ministers, Fouché and Talleyrand, he unmasks and guillotines the royalist plotters. He learns the British backed the assassination attempt.
In Downing Street, Pitt, reveals to cabinet ministers his plan to kidnap and exile Bonaparte to Saint Helena, or have him killed. He has found the man to accomplish this: General Georges Cadoudal, leader of the royalist Chouans.
Cadoudal and the famous Revolutionary general, Charles Pichegru, finalize their plan to remove Bonaparte, take over Paris and restore the monarchy.
In Paris, Cadoudal watches Bonaparte’s movements, following him to his lover’s trysts and coming close enough to kidnap or shoot him. But he has to follow the plan agreed with Pichegru and recruit another popular general, Jean-Victor Moreau.
When Cadoudal and Pichegru meet Moreau in Paris he objects to their plan, saying the country will never accept the Bourbons. Cadoudal is forced to agree that all three will govern France until the people vote the Restoration.
Cadoudal makes a pilgrimage to his native Brittany to see the woman to whom he is betrothed. But they have vowed never to marry until Louis XVII is king.
One of his men, Coster-Saint-Victor discovers Bonaparte is infatuated with Mam’zelle George an actress. With Coster, also her lover, Cadoudal hides in their trysting house and has Bonaparte in his sights but must keep his promise to the British and his fellow generals to wait for the coup d’état.
When Fouché whispers that royalists, armed by William Pitt, are plotting to kill him, Bonaparte decides to investigate the plot himself. He enrolls his faithful and black-hearted general, Savary to torture and break down their royalist prisoners..
Querelle, a key royalist, confesses under torture and reveals the existence of Cadoudal’s Liberty Line. One by one, half a dozen conspirators are picked up, interrogated and tortured. Bonaparte sends General Savary just fails to capture the Bourbon princes as they make to disembark and they run the French blockade.
From the prisoners, Bonaparte learns Cadoudal is in Paris to kill him and has the backing of Generals Pichegru and Moreau; he arrests the latter and begins a manhunt for Pichegru. Both Cadoudal and Pichegru are arrested.
With twenty-three royalist prisoners in his jails Bonaparte might have stopped there. But he has greater aims—to use the murder plot to win popularity and crown himself emperor. Talleyrand whispers he needs a royal head and there is one within reach—the young Duc d’Enghien, who is living in Germany. Without evidence, Bonaparte has the young duke kidnapped, brought to Paris and tried for treason by a handpicked military tribunal, who sentence him to death. Bonaparte’s jackal, Savary, has him executed on the spot.
General Pichegru now has to be eliminated for he knows how Bonaparte had once intrigued with the Bourbons, and how he broke a pact made with Pitt to keep the peace in Europe if Nelson allowed him to slip through his blockade and return from Egypt. Again, a nod to Savary and Pichegru is discovered garroted in his cell.
Three weeks after Pichegru’s death and a month after Enghien’s murder, senators vote to proclaim Bonaparte Napoleon the First, Emperor of the French.
Cadoudal and Moreau are tried with forty-five others. Twenty-two are acquitted, five others including Moreau receive light sentences; the other twenty are sentenced to the guillotine. Cadoudal and those closest to him are guillotined before a huge crowd.


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