Lire Magazine Best Travel Book
Take four friends, put them on two Ural motorcycles (complete with sidecars), send them off on a 2,500-mile odyssey retracing history’s most famous retreat, add what some might consider an excessive amount of Vodka, and you’ve got Sylvain Tesson’s Berezina, a riotous and erudite book that combines travel, history, comradery, and adventure.
The retreat of Napoleon’s Grande Armée from Russia culminated, after a humiliating loss, with the crossing of the River Berezina, a word that henceforth became synonymous with unmitigated disaster for the French and national pride for the Russians. Two hundred years after this battle, Sylvain Tesson and his friends retrace Napoleon’s retreat, along the way reflecting on the lessons of history, the meaning of defeat, and the realities of contemporary Europe. A great read for history buffs and for anyone who has ever dreamed of an adventure that is out of the ordinary.