Joseph Bonaparte was a good man, generous and jovial, a patron of the arts and a lover of good conversation. He possessed enough business acumen to increase his fortune without overexerting himself. The money thus earned he used to secure the future of his children, help his friends, and beautify his property. Had he been born in a different family, his destiny would not have taken him farther than a comfortable life, most likely divided between a barrister study and the quiet pleasures of a country gentleman. His destiny was determined, however, not by his personal choices, but by the overwhelming personality of his younger brother Napoleon Bonaparte. Indeed, while Joseph was not a mediocre man, his own accomplishments would have hardly justified a sturdy biographical study. Whenever he left a mark on the history of his time he did so because he felt obligated to satisfy the demands of his brother, the general and the emperor. The very title of this book underscores this point. Without attempting to unduly elevate her subject, Patricia Tyson Stroud offers us a sympathetic portrayal of the man who had been king, much against his own aspirations and inclinations. . . .