Shannon Selin

"Napoleon in America"

The novel "Napoleon in America" imagines what might have happened if Napoleon had escaped from exile on St. Helena and wound up in the United States in 1821. It's based on the legend behind Napoleon House in New Orleans. The novel blends together alternate history and historical accuracy, as the author tried to make it as plausible as possible by using only actual historical characters and setting it carefully in the geopolitical context of the time.


The year is 1821, when the real Napoleon, imprisoned on the island of St. Helena in the Atlantic Ocean since his defeat at Waterloo in 1815, dies in May at the age of 51 without having escaped from St. Helena exile. Shannon Selin starts her novel just a few months earlier, in February, when Napoleon plots and successfully executes an escape, choosing America as his haven. Rescued in a state of near-death by Gulf pirate Jean Laffite, Napoleon lands in New Orleans, where French expats and Americans alike welcome him with cries of “Vive l’Empereur!”, and he struggles to regain his health aided by voodoo priestess Marie Laveau.




Opponents of the Bourbon regime expect him to reconquer France. French Canadians beg him to seize Canada from Britain. American adventurers urge him to steal Texas from Mexico. His brother Joseph pleads with him to settle peacefully in New Jersey. As Napoleon restlessly explores his new land, he frets about his legacy. Though enfeebled by his travels, Napoleon hasn’t lost his ambition or hunger for power; soon, he’s travelling around his new country and coming up with schemes every step of the way. He fears for the future of his ten-year-old son, trapped in the velvet fetters of the Austrian court. While the British, French and American governments follow his activities with growing alarm, remnants of the Grande Armée flock to him with growing anticipation. International unrest allows him plenty of chances to devise new ways of achieving glory; for Napoleon, strife in France, Mexico, Canada and Texas means opportunity.



Book details

Title: "Napoleon in America"

Author: Shannon Selin

Language: English

Binding: Paperback

Page Count: 314

Publisher: Dry Wall Publishing

Publication Date:  January 2014



Book reviews


"Evocative and immersive, Selin's debut historical fiction twists Napoleon's fate ... vigorous, engrossing and remarkably realistic. A thorough, sweeping novel with seamless transitions from the real to the imagined."

“The novel provides an expansive view of the political landscape, with scenes across the Atlantic effectively displaying ineffective politicians of all bents. The global view is informative, although some geographic jumps dilute the plot’s main—and most entertaining—action, which takes place in America. When the novel turns to scenes of action, rather than conversation, it becomes vigorous, engrossing and remarkably realistic.”

Kirkus Reviews


“Even though the events are made up, you can tell that Selin did a lot of research on the historical figures that appear in the book to make all of the things that they say and all of the things that they do in this book feel like something that actually could have happened. 
There are so many really interesting historical figures in the book. I loved that the author included some of the correspondence from some of the historical figures, such as John Quincy Adams. It really added a sense of realism to the book. I also liked how the author wrote the characters themselves, you get to see a lot of different perspectives. We get insight into the kind of man that Napoleon was, the things he cares about, and his thoughts on his relationships with others. We see how much he cares and thinks about his son, which definitely humanized him for me. I liked the writing of the book. The book had a really good flow!”

A Bookis Affair


“The narrative is peppered with diary entries, letters, newspaper articles, and other missives to round out the story as we experience it. The feel of the book is slightly 19th century, which I enjoyed; the writing is wordy and philosophical. While the cast of characters is huge, there's enough context in the story to understand who is who if one doesn't want to flip back to the list of characters included at the end. 

The strength of this book comes from Selin's ability to keep this story from being ludicrous, despite the outlandish plot. Her Napoleon is slightly delusional and very ambitious, surrounded by supporters and allies who bolster and encourage him.  Every decision made felt realistic and possible, and I read hungrily to see just how things would end. A fantastic read for fans of French history and those who like 'what if' kind of stories; any fan of Napoleon will want to read this, too, and imagine a world where this might have happened.”

Unabridged Chick

Napoleon in America book trailer

about the Author

Shannon Selin is a Canadian writer of historical fiction. Her short stories have appeared in The Copperfield Review and Commuter Lit. Her first novel, Napoleon in America has been poublished in January 2014.


Shannon Selin was born and raised in the small town of Biggar, Saskatchewan. Her father, Alan Selin, was a history teacher, so she grew up immersed in history books and spent her holidays tramping around battlefields, graveyards and museums. Shannon Selin holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Saskatchewan, and a Master degree in Political Science from the University of British Columbia, specializing in international relations. She worked at jobs that involved a lot of non-fiction writing, including university research, technical writing and working for the Canadian government, namely Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and British Columbia’s Ministry of Health. Shannon now writes historical fiction full time, and lives with her husband and three children in Vancouver, Canada.



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