His Excellency (French: Son Excellence Eugene Rougon) - From Zola's Rougon-Macquart Series.
"Son Excellence Eugene Rougon is the one existing French novel which gives the reader a fair general idea of what occurred in political spheres at an important period of the Empire. It is a book for foreigners and particularly Englishmen to read with profit, for there are yet many among them who cherish the delusion that Napoléon III. was not only a good and true friend of England, but also a wise and beneficent ruler of France; and this, although his reign began with bloodshed and trickery, was prolonged by means of innume-rable subterfuges, and ended in woe, horror, and disgrace...
There is, of course, some fiction in the book; but, again and again, page after page, I have found a simple record of fact, just deftly adapted to suit the requirements of the narrative. The history of the Second Empire is probably as familiar to me as it is to M. Zola himself-for, like him, I grew to manhood in its midst, with better opportunities, too, than he had of observing certain of its distinguishing features - and thus I have been able to identify innumerable incidents and allusions, and trace to their very source some of the most curious passages in the book. And it is for this reason, and by virtue of my own knowledge and experience, that I claim for His Excellency the merit of reflecting things as they really were in the earlier years of the Imperial régime." (Ernest Alfred Vizetelly)