I have spent the last week or so reading everything I could lay my hands on about the French army’s stay in Poland prior to their invasion of Russia in the summer of 1812. Which sounds like a mad thing to do. Even by my standards.
And in the end, all the research, all the searching for pictures of the Sudeten, all the study of the geological charts, all the reading of diaries and memoirs and reminiscences, will probably be condensed into no more than two pages of the entire work.
But like so much about this war of wars–Napoleon’s determined effort to take over the whole of Europe and his relative success at so doing–the actual damage, the actual destruction is so much greater, infinitely greater than anything we wish to contemplate. And so, for all those lives lost, for the generations lost, in Poland and elsewhere, because of Napoleon’s megalomania, I press on.
And yes, perfectionism may be a contributing factor in this desire to know, to understand, so that I can write of it with authority and honesty. But all the same, if I get it right, and my readers then have even a glimpse of comprehension–it’s all worth it.