Vaulting ambition, a politically calculating marriage, endless battles across Europe, a Russian campaign that cost the lives of half a million French troops - there is much for which history can criticise Napoleon.
But historian Andrew Roberts defends Napoleon against these charges and makes the case for him as a man more sinned against than sinning - though the retreat from Moscow, vividly described, left Napoleon's army in dismal disarray with many men succumbing to deaths from disease and cold and suicide.
As a result, Napoleon was exiled to Elba. Although of course, he would return.
The programme is partly recorded on location in Paris.
Simon Russell Beale is the voice of Napoleon.
Produced by Victoria Ferran and Susan Marling
A Just Radio Production for BBC Radio 4.