A lot has been written about Napoleone Buonaparte, or as history knows the colossus, Napoleon Bonaparte. In fact, many say that Bonaparte may be the second most written about figure in history after Jesus Christ – understandable for a man who has a whole era named after him, the Napoleonic era. Any comprehensive reading list on the great general and his era would run into hundreds of books, not to mention academic papers, that cover individual battles, campaigns, family life, the arts, legal reforms, military tactics, Egyptology, the nation-state, religion, foreign policy, his opponents, and so on. In order to keep this list short, I have resisted the temptation to add books about several key figures in the turbulent early 19th century. Most of his marshals surely deserve a book on their own, as do some of Napoleon’s admirals. There are also many other important figures on the battlefield and in the ballrooms like Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, Horatio Nelson, Joséphine de Beauharnais, Arthur Wellesley, Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, Mikhail Kutuzov, Denis Davydov, and Louis-Alexandre Berthier.

This list is a mix of academic and coffee table books, a nice mix of facts, trivia, and argument. It is not purely about Napoleon but also a little about his era – I do not know how to separate the two given his imprint on close of the 18th century and the bloody start of the 19th. I should also confess that I am somewhat partial to Le Petit Caporal; to ensure a balance, I have included a few works that are clearly and unfairly against Napoleon along with a few that are effulgent towards him and most that are, on the whole, balanced. If you are only looking for a quick introduction, Ladybird has an audiobook by Lawrence du Garde Peach from 1968 that I used when I was four.

  1. Adkins, Roy. Nelson’s Trafalgar: The Battle That Changed the World
  2. Asprey, Robert. The Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte
  3. —. The Reign of Napoleon Bonaparte
  4. Barbero, Alessandro. The Battle: A New History of Waterloo
  5. Bell, David. The First Total War: Napoleon’s Europe and the Birth of Warfare as We Know It
  6. Bergeron, Louis. France Under Napoleon
  7. Bertaud, Jean-Paul. The Army of the French Revolution: From Citizen-Soldiers to Instrument of Power
  8. Beyle, Marie-Henri (Stendhal). The Red and the Black
  9. Black, Jeremy. The Battle of Waterloo
  10. —. The War of 1812 in the Age of Napoleon
  11. Blanning, Timothy CW. The French Revolutionary Wars, 1787-1802
  12. —. The Origins of the French Revolutionary Wars
  13. Boime, Albert. Art in the Age of Bonapartism, 1800-1815
  14. de Bourrienne, Louis Antoine Fauvelet. Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte
  15. Broers, Michael. Europe Under Napoleon, 1799-1815
  16. —. Napoleon’s Other War: Bandits, Rebels, and Their Pursuers in the Age of Revolution
  17. Carlson, Marvin. The Theatre of the French Revolution
  18. Caulaincourt, Armand Augustin Louis de. With Napoleon in Russia: The Memoirs of General de Caulaincourt, Duke of Vicenza
  19. Chalfont, Alun Arthur Gwynne Jones. Waterloo: Battle of Three Armies
  20. Chandler, David. The Campaigns of Napoleon
  21. —. Napoleon’s Marshals
  22. Chrisawn, Margaret. The Emperor’s Friend: Marshal Jean Lannes
  23. Connelly, Owen. Blundering to Glory: Napoleon’s Military Campaigns
  24. Cronin, Vincent. Napoleon
  25. Davydov, Denis. In Service of the Tsar Against Napoleon: The Memoirs of Denis Davydov, 1806-1814
  26. Dawson, Anthony. Napoleonic Artillery
  27. Duffy, Christopher. Austerlitz 1805
  28. —. Borodino and the War of 1812
  29. Dull, Jonathan. The Age of the Ship of the Line: The British and French Navies, 1650-1815
  30. Dwyer, Philip. Citizen Emperor: Napoleon in Power
  31. —. Napoleon: The Path to Power 1769–1799
  32. —. Napoleon and Europe
  33. Ellis, Geoffrey. The Napoleonic Empire
  34. Elting, John. Swords Around A Throne: Napoleon’s Grande Armee
  35. Englund, Steven. Napoleon: A Political Life
  36. Epstein, Robert. Napoleon’s Last Victory and the Emergence of Modern War
  37. Ermolov, Alexis. The Czar’s General: The Memoirs of a Russian General in the Napoleonic Wars
  38. Esdaile, Charles. Napoleon’s Wars: An International History
  39. —. Outpost of Empire: The Napoleonic Occupation of Andalucia, 1810-1812
  40. —. The Peninsular War
  41. Esdaile, Charles (ed). Popular Resistance in the French Wars: Patriots, Partisans, and Land Pirates
  42. Falk, Avner. Napoleon Against Himself: A Psychobiography
  43. Ferrero, Guglielmo. The Gamble: Bonaparte in Italy, 1796-1797
  44. Finley, Milton. The Most Monstrous of Wars: The Napoleonic Guerrilla War in Southern Italy, 1806-1811
  45. Fisher, Todd. The Napoleonic Wars: The Rise and Fall of an Empire
  46. Franceschi, Michel. Wars Against Napoleon
  47. Furet, Francois. The French Revolution, 1770-1814
  48. —. Interpreting the French Revolution
  49. —. Revolutionary France, 1770-1880
  50. Gallaher, John. The Iron Marshal: A Biography of Louis N. Davout
  51. Gates, David. The Spanish Ulcer: A History of the Peninsular War
  52. Geyl, Peter. Napoleon: For and Against
  53. Gill, John H. Thunder on the Danube: Napoleon’s Defeat of the Habsburgs (three volumes)
  54. Goetz, Robert. 1805, Austerlitz: Napoleon and the Destruction of the Third Coalition
  55. Gould, Cecil Hilton Monk. Trophy of Conquest: The Musée Napoléon and the Creation of the Louvre
  56. Hamilton-Williams, David. Waterloo: New Perspectives: The Great Battle Reappraised
  57. —. The Fall of Napoleon: The Final Betrayal
  58. Herbert, Robert. David, Voltaire, Brutus and the French Revolution: An Essay in Art and Politics
  59. Herold, J. Christopher. The Age of Napoleon
  60. —. Bonaparte in Egypt
  61. Hippler, Thomas. Citizens, Soldiers, and National Armies: Military Service in France and Germany, 1789-1830
  62. Holtman, Robert. Napoleonic Propaganda
  63. Horne, Alistair. The Age of Napoleon
  64. —. How Far From Austerlitz? Napoleon 1805-1815
  65. —. Napoleon: Master of Europe
  66. Ilari, Virgilio, and Giancarlo Boeri. Le Due Sicile nelle Guerre Napoleoniche, 1800-1815
  67. Johnson, Paul. Napoleon: A Life
  68. Jones, Richard Benjamin. Napoleon: Man and Myth
  69. Jorgensen, Christer. The Anglo-Swedish Alliance Against Napoleonic France
  70. Junot, Laure. At the Court of Napoleon: Memoirs of the Duchesse d’Abrantes
  71. Kagan, Frederick. The End of the Old Order: Napoleon and Europe, 1801-1805
  72. King, David. Vienna, 1814: How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at the Congress of Vienna
  73. Lefebvre, Georges. The Coming of the French Revolution
  74. —. Napoleon 1: From 18 Brumaire to Tilsit 1799-07
  75. Leggiere, Michael. The Fall of Napoleon: The Allied Invasion of France, 1813-1814
  76. Lieven, Dominic. Russia Against Napoleon: The True Story of the Campaigns of War and Peace
  77. Ludwig, Emil. Napoleon
  78. Lyons, Martyn. France Under the Directory
  79. —. Napoleon Bonaparte and the Legacy of the French Revolution
  80. Mahan, Alfred T. The Influence of Sea Power Upon the French Revolution and Empire
  81. Markham, Felix. Napoleon
  82. Martin, Marc. Les Origins de la Presse Militaire, 1770-1799
  83. Mason, Laura. Singing the French Revolution: Popular Culture and Politics, 1789-1799
  84. McCranie, Kevin. Admiral Lord Keith and the Naval War Against Napoleon
  85. McLynn, Frank. Napoleon: A Biography
  86. Mikaberidze, Alexander. The Battle of the Berezina: Napoleon’s Great Escape
  87. —. The Battle of Borodino: Napoleon Against Kutuzov
  88. Moiret, Joseph-Marie. The Memoirs of Napoleon’s Egyptian Expedition
  89. Moon, Joshua. Wellington’s Two-Front War: The Peninsular Campaigns at Home and Abroad
  90. Muir, Rory. Salamanca 1812
  91. —. Tactics and the Experience of Battle in the Age of Napoleon
  92. Noli, Bishop Fan Stylian. Beethoven and the French Revolution
  93. Nosworthy, Brent. Battle Tactics of Napoleon and His Enemies
  94. Palmer, Robert Roswell. Twelve Who Ruled: The Year of the Terror in the French Revolution
  95. Parkinson, Roger. The Peninsular War
  96. Pelet, Jean Jacques Germain. French Campaign in Portugal
  97. Phipps, Ramsay Weston. The Armies of the First French Republic and the Rise of the Marshals of Napoleon I (five volumes)
  98. Popkin, Jeremy. Revolutionary News: The Press in France, 1789-1799
  99. Quimby, Robert. The Background of Napoleonic Warfare: The Theory of Military Tactics in Eighteenth Century France
  100. Riehn, Richard. 1812: Napoleon’s Russian Campaign
  101. Riley, Jonathon. Napoleon and the World War of 1813: Lessons in Coalition Warfighting
  102. —. Napoleon as a General: From Battlefield to Grand Strategy
  103. Roberts, Andrew. Napoleon and Wellington
  104. Warren Roberts. Jacques-Louis David, Revolutionary Artist: Art, Politics, and the French Revolution
  105. Robinson, Andrew. Cracking the Egyptian Code: The Revolutionary Life of Jean-Francois Champollion
  106. Rodger, AB. The War of the Second Coalition, 1798-1802: A Strategic Commentary
  107. Rothenberg, Gunther Erich. The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon
  108. —. The Napoleonic Wars
  109. Schechter, Ronald. Obstinate Hebrews: Representations of Jews in France, 1715-1815
  110. Sherwig, John. Guineas and Gunpowder: British Foreign Aid in the War Against France, 1793-1815
  111. Schmuel, Moreh. Napoleon In Egypt: Al-Jabarti’s Chronicle Of The French Occupation, 1798
  112. Schom, Alan. One Hundred Days: Napoleon’s Road to Waterloo
  113. —. Napoleon Bonaparte: A Life
  114. Schneid, Frederick. Napoleon’s Conquest of Europe: The War of the Third Coalition
  115. Schur, Nathan. Napoleon in the Holy Land
  116. Schwarzfuchs, Simon. Napoleon, the Jews and the Sanhedrin
  117. Scott, Samuel F. From Yorktown to Valmy: The Transformation of the French Army in an Age of Revolution
  118. Ségur, Philippe-Paul de. Napoleon’s Expedition to Russia: The Memoirs of General de Ségur
  119. Smith, Digby George. The Greenhill Napoleonic Wars Data Book: Actions and Losses in Personnel, Colours, Standards and Artillery, 1792-1815
  120. Stuart, Andrea. The Rose of Martinique: A Life of Napoleon’s Josephine
  121. Sugden, John. Nelson: A Dream of Glory, 1758-1797
  122. Tombs, Isabelle. That Sweet Enemy: Britain and France – The History of a Love-Hate Relationship
  123. Tone, John. The Fatal Knot: The Guerrilla War in Navarre and the Defeat of Napoleon in Spain
  124. Tulard, Jean. Napoleon: The Myth of the Savior
  125. Urban, Mark. The Man Who Broke Napoleon’s Codes: The Story of George Scovell
  126. Walter, Jakob. The Diary of a Napoleonic Foot Soldier
  127. Weider, Ben. Assassination at St. Helena Revisited
  128. Weller, Jac. Wellington in India
  129. —. Wellington in the Peninsula
  130. Woolf, Stuart. Napoleon’s Integration of Europe
  131. Zamoyski, Adam. Moscow 1812: Napoleon’s Fatal March
  132. —. Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna


Eroica (2003) [TV movie]: 

Beethoven’s Symphony Eroica:

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