Art McGrath grew up fascinated with all things Napoleonic. When he was little he reenacted the Battle of Waterloo with toy soldiers—always making sure Napoleon came out on top. He spent four years on active duty in the United States Marine Corps; and in 1987, while in Egypt during Operation Brightstar, the words of Napoleon to his men when they caught sight of the Great Pyramid came to mind: “Soldiers, forty centuries of history are looking down upon you.”
After the Marines he returned to Vermont for college, getting a bachelor’s in English and a master’s in history. Even while working as a reporter for a small weekly newspaper in northern New Hampshire he still read all he could about the Napoleonic era. After running across references to Americans serving in the Grande Armée, he became frustrated there was so little written about them. Thus The Emperor’s American was born. “I wrote this as a way to discover how an American could end up across the Atlantic in French uniform fighting the Emperor’s enemies,” McGrath said. “It was discovery through writing, and while it may sound like a cliché, it was as if Pierre Burns was standing over my shoulder telling his story. He wanted to be discovered.”
McGrath is a reenactor and a proud member of the Brigade Napoleon and the 3me regiment infanterie de ligne—the French 3rd Infantry Regiment of the Line. He became a reenactor after he began writing the novel. “In order to really describe it I needed to be able to taste the gunpowder, hear the drums and volleys of musket fire, feel the wool of uniforms. Reenactors bring history to life.” The Emperor’s American is the first in a series that will follow the adventures of Pierre Burns through to Waterloo, with a hiatus between Elba and the Hundred Days for part of the War of 1812.
In addition to being a novelist, McGrath is the editor of three weekly newspapers in northern New Hampshire. He lives in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont with his wife and two sons.
The Emperor's American: Pierre Burns of Baltimore, Maryland was brought up to hate the English but never thought he would be able to do anything about it. In early 1804, stranded on a French shore in the midst of Napoleon’s Army as it prepares to invade England, Burns is given his chance when Marshal Michel Ney offers him a commission. Now in the uniform of a French officer but still an outsider, Burns stands ready to battle his way to London, but it remains to be seen who his real enemies are—the English, his fellow soldiers who resent his presence, or even his American countrymen.
March to Destruction: Pierre Burns may have been born in Maryland and served on ships, but in 1805 he is part of the most famous ground force in history: Napoleon's Grande Armée. Under the inspiring leadership of Marshal Ney and General Savary, Burns serves first as a spy and messenger, then as a soldier in a campaign that pits the innovative Grande Armée, led by a military genius, against an Austrian army that enjoys every advantage of terrain as well as overwhelming numbers. Pierre has more to worry about than the heavy odds he and his compatriots face. As a man with a price on his head he has to watch every shadow for the next assassin, for he has powerful enemies whose influence extends to royal courts as well as dark alleys. But it is the crucible of battle that will ultimately test Pierre in ways he never foresaw, and that will change him forever.