100 books like Napoleon Surrenders

By Gilbert Martineau,

Here are 100 books that Napoleon Surrenders fans have personally recommended if you like Napoleon Surrenders. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Napoleon on Napoleon: An Autobiography of the Emperor

Gareth Williams Author Of Needing Napoleon

From my list on getting inside Napoleon Bonaparte’s head.

Why am I passionate about this?

I taught about Napoleon for thirty years, having studied history at Cambridge. I’ve been fascinated by the Corsican outsider, who, thanks to the French Revolution, rose to dominate Europe, since I saw a china bust of him in his green Chasseurs uniform on my maternal grandparents’ sideboard. I always loved historical fiction and having retired into a locked-down world, I put my time on the Isle of Skye to good use and set about researching and writing the novel I had always said I would write. Re-reading old favourites and encountering new interpretations was a joy and certainly made compiling this list an enjoyable challenge!

Gareth's book list on getting inside Napoleon Bonaparte’s head

Gareth Williams Why did Gareth love this book?

Where better to start trying to understand Napoleon than with his own words? If only it was that simple! In total, four of his companions took down Napoleon’s words but he died without editing them. Exiled on St Helena, Bonaparte was determined to counter what he saw as the gross distortions circulating in the English-speaking world. I delight in his confident vision, even after his ultimate defeat. This book gives us insights into his view on the nature of history, his assessment of generals through the ages, including a substantial section on himself, the key events in his career, and a set of final observations in which he attempts to rewrite history to his tastes. Not then a balanced piece of work but no less fascinating for all that. It taught me the importance of putting myself in a character’s shoes before I start writing.

By Somerset de Chair (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Napoleon on Napoleon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During his exile on St. Helena, Napoleon dictated memoirs, notes, letters and battle commentaries to the generals who shared his captivity. He then edited the material himself. The result is an account of Napoleon's life in his own words, from his childhood in Corsica to his defeat at Waterloo in 1815. Private concerns, such as feuds with his brothers and divorce from Josephine, are mixed with such matters of state as the rebellion of Toussaint-Louverture and the retreat from Moscow. In this edition, de Chair has incorporated much new material from three further volumes of notes and miscellanies dictated by…


Book cover of Napoleon: The Song Of Departure

Gareth Williams Author Of Needing Napoleon

From my list on getting inside Napoleon Bonaparte’s head.

Why am I passionate about this?

I taught about Napoleon for thirty years, having studied history at Cambridge. I’ve been fascinated by the Corsican outsider, who, thanks to the French Revolution, rose to dominate Europe, since I saw a china bust of him in his green Chasseurs uniform on my maternal grandparents’ sideboard. I always loved historical fiction and having retired into a locked-down world, I put my time on the Isle of Skye to good use and set about researching and writing the novel I had always said I would write. Re-reading old favourites and encountering new interpretations was a joy and certainly made compiling this list an enjoyable challenge!

Gareth's book list on getting inside Napoleon Bonaparte’s head

Gareth Williams Why did Gareth love this book?

This is a fine work of fiction that forms but the first installment of a four-book masterpiece. Max Gallo was a herculean figure in French post-war life. In this volume, he tells the story of Napoleon’s life from his birth in Corsica to the moment in 1799 when he topples the ineffective Directory. I love this book because the author puts us inside Napoleon’s head. We think his thoughts and savour his words. He has put the flesh on the bones of history, conjuring a sympathetic tyro at times plagued by doubts but also willing to take daunting risks. This book made me realise Napoleon was more than an icon or an ogre, an Emperor, or a military genius; he was an outsider, he endured bullying, and he felt the same gamut of emotions as we do. I never looked at historical figures in the same way again.

By Max Gallo, William Hobson (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Napoleon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On 15 May 1779, the second son of a prominent but impecunious Corsican family arrives at the gates of a royal military school at Brienne in the east of France. Not yet 10 years old, he barely speaks French. A fierce patriot, even at such a young age, French for him is the language of the oppressor - in 1769 France robbed Corsica of the independence it had won from Genoa - and his schoolmates waste no time making fun of him, his accent, his Italian-sounding name, Napoleone Buonaparte . . .

Within 20 years this solitary child has become…


Book cover of The Road to Rivoli: Napoleon's First Campaign

Gareth Williams Author Of Needing Napoleon

From my list on getting inside Napoleon Bonaparte’s head.

Why am I passionate about this?

I taught about Napoleon for thirty years, having studied history at Cambridge. I’ve been fascinated by the Corsican outsider, who, thanks to the French Revolution, rose to dominate Europe, since I saw a china bust of him in his green Chasseurs uniform on my maternal grandparents’ sideboard. I always loved historical fiction and having retired into a locked-down world, I put my time on the Isle of Skye to good use and set about researching and writing the novel I had always said I would write. Re-reading old favourites and encountering new interpretations was a joy and certainly made compiling this list an enjoyable challenge!

Gareth's book list on getting inside Napoleon Bonaparte’s head

Gareth Williams Why did Gareth love this book?

This is a detailed and meticulously researched book focusing on Bonaparte’s first independent command. The Army of Italy is little more than an afterthought but he forges his rag-tag troops into a force that expels the Austrians from most of northern Italy. I loved the eye-witness accounts and the author’s ability to evaluate events such as those at the bridge over the Arcole. It became part of the Napoleonic legend, immortalised in Gros’ painting, that the young general was in the thick of the fighting but this has been denounced as blatant propaganda. We learn from Boycott-Brown that both things are true. Napoleon did expose himself to fierce enemy fire to rally his troops to the standard, although he did not make it to the bridge, and his men did not follow, forcing him to retreat. This is where I learnt to accept the notion that history is messy! 

By Martin Boycott-Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Road to Rivoli as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the spring of 1796 the 26-year-old Napoleon took command of the Army of Italy - a collection of some 45,000 ill-fed, poorly-clothed and disillusioned men. He had only ever participated in one campaign and had never been involved in a major battle, much less conducted one as the commander of an army. And yet within just two months he and his scarecrow army had knocked the Piedmontese out of the war, driven the Austrians half way across Italy and laid siege to the fortress of Mantua, the capture of which was essential for the control of northern Italy. Over…


Book cover of How Far From Austerlitz?: Napoleon 1805-1815

Gareth Williams Author Of Needing Napoleon

From my list on getting inside Napoleon Bonaparte’s head.

Why am I passionate about this?

I taught about Napoleon for thirty years, having studied history at Cambridge. I’ve been fascinated by the Corsican outsider, who, thanks to the French Revolution, rose to dominate Europe, since I saw a china bust of him in his green Chasseurs uniform on my maternal grandparents’ sideboard. I always loved historical fiction and having retired into a locked-down world, I put my time on the Isle of Skye to good use and set about researching and writing the novel I had always said I would write. Re-reading old favourites and encountering new interpretations was a joy and certainly made compiling this list an enjoyable challenge!

Gareth's book list on getting inside Napoleon Bonaparte’s head

Gareth Williams Why did Gareth love this book?

As a St Helena Lullaby puts it, quoted by Horne at the start of his scholarly but eminently readable book, "How far is St Helena from the field of Austerlitz?" Horne is a brilliant historian and he crafts a compelling book tracing Napoleon’s career from its apogee on the field of his greatest victory to its nadir with his exile to St Helena, far out in the south Atlantic. But we don’t just get the events, we get to experience the slippery nature of success, as Spain swallows troops and Russia decimates the Grande Armée. We see this through Napoleon’s own words, and Horne’s relentless research, as he struggles to maintain his dominance. I loved the balanced assessment of this final decade in power. I marvelled at Bonaparte’s brilliance and achievements whilst learning to appreciate how much the odds were stacked against him.

By Alistair Horne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How Far From Austerlitz? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A London Sunday Times Book of the Year
A Daily Telegraph Book of the Year


Book cover of The Spanish Bride

Mary Lancaster Author Of A Prince to be Feared: The Love Story of Vlad Dracula

From my list on controversial historical heroes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Scottish writer of historical fiction and historical romance. I’m also a history graduate with imagination, by which I mean I’m as interested in what might have happened as what definitely did! So much of history is open to interpretation, taking account of who wrote what for whom, and why, and that is a large part of what fascinates me. And of course, I love a good historical novel that combines compelling writing with excellent research—especially when a controversial hero is shown in a new or captivating light.

Mary's book list on controversial historical heroes

Mary Lancaster Why did Mary love this book?

I discovered this in my early teens, which perhaps explains why I didn’t bat an eyelid that the heroine is only fifteen years old when she marries our hero. It’s based on the true story of Harry and Juana Smith during the Peninsular war and is a very appealing novel, brilliantly researched and written in Georgette Heyer’s inimitable, light-hearted style. Harry shines as the brave and lovable young officer. Both main characters, their friends, and Wellington himself, leap off the pages fully formed. I’d probably blackball a book written now about a 25 year old man marrying a fifteen year old, yet I can still easily buy into this one, accepting the different customs of their time and simply enjoying their story. 

By Georgette Heyer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Spanish Bride as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shot-proof, fever-proof and a veteran campaigner at the age of 25, Brigade-Major Harry Smith is reputed to be the luckiest man in Lord Wellington's army. Yet at the siege of Badajoz, his friends foretell the ruin of his career.


Book cover of The Peninsular War: A New History

Philip Dwyer Author Of Napoleon: The Path to Power 1769 - 1799

From my list on the Napoleonic Wars and their impact on Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an Australian historian specializing in the French Revolution and Napoleon. I have spent a goodly part of my career writing a three-volume biography of Napoleon, alongside chapters, articles, and edited books that aimed at reassessing the man and the period. Working on Napoleon and the French as occupiers led me into the history of massacre and more broadly into the history of violence. I studied under the preeminent French Napoleonic scholar, Jean Tulard, at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, Paris IV.

Philip's book list on the Napoleonic Wars and their impact on Europe

Philip Dwyer Why did Philip love this book?

Charles Esdaile, a specialist of Spanish history, is one of the more prolific writers on the Napoleonic Wars, so it was not easy choosing only one of the numerous books he has penned, including a general history of the wars. Spain, however, has always remained a bit of an outlier in the history of the period. Here we get an insider’s view of the situation in Spain leading to the overthrow of the Bourbon monarchy and an accessible, lively account of the often complicated events that followed. Esdaile doesn’t shy away from treating either the Spanish, the guerrillas, or Wellington head on.

By Charles J. Esdaile,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Peninsular War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For centuries Spain had been the most feared and predatory power in Europe - it had the largest empire and one of the world's great navies to defend it. Nothing could have prepared the Spanish for the devastating implosion of 1805-14. Trafalgar destroyed its navy and the country degenerated into a brutalized shambles with French and British armies marching across it at will. The result was a war which killed over a million Spaniards and ended its empire.
This book is the first in a generation to come to terms with this spectacular and terrible conflict, immortalised by Goya and…


Book cover of To Befriend An Emperor: Betsy Balcombe's Memoirs of Napoleon on St Helena

Margaret Rodenberg Author Of Finding Napoleon

From my list on famous leaders we thought we understood.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I lived in France as a youngster, museum portraits became friends. I could hear courtiers scheming in Versailles and gladiators clashing in coliseums. Naturally, decades later, when I learned Napoleon Bonaparte tried to write a novel of love and betrayal, I vowed to finish it for him. But to ghostwrite for Napoleon, I had to know him as personally as his great love Josephine did. I dove into research, translated his writing to capture his cadence, and became secretary of the Napoleonic Historical Society. Finally, on remote St. Helena Island in the ramshackle rooms where Napoleon died in exile, I found the intimate connection I demand from historical fiction.

Margaret's book list on famous leaders we thought we understood

Margaret Rodenberg Why did Margaret love this book?

This memoir reads like historical fiction and influenced my perspective on Napoleon. As its title proclaims, it’s not so much about the writer, Betsy Balcombe, but about Napoleon himself. Upon arrival on St. Helena, the British billeted the exiled, depressed emperor on her father’s estate. Fourteen-year-old Betsy, who spoke French, treated him like a favorite uncle, teasing and playing tricks on him. Unlike other contemporaneous memoirs I’ve read, Betsy’s doesn’t demonize or glorify Napoleon. Rather, her recollections provide the most extensive, reliable account of the real Napoleon, a lonely human hiding behind the vestiges of power. Look for the version with the excellent introduction by J. David Markham who puts the history in context.

By Betsy Balcombe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked To Befriend An Emperor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Young Elizabeth Balcombe, or Betsy to friends and family, found life on the remote island of St Helena intolerably dull. Most fourteen-year-olds would. Her father had been posted to that unforgiving station in the Atlantic and, being a family man, he took his family with him.

Life was bleak in Balcombe's bungalow on the fringe of James Town. But then, in October 1815, the situation was transformed by the arrival of an unusual visitor. Napoleon Bonaparte, one-time master of Europe, now prisoner and exile, stepped ashore. The Balcombes, like all the islanders, were amazed. And even more so when Napoleon,…


Book cover of Finding Napoleon

Michelle Cameron Author Of Beyond the Ghetto Gates

From my list on historical fiction books on the French Revolution and Napoleon that portray real life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by Napoleon and the French Revolution since I was a teenager. Novels that capture the essence of the struggles of the French people – and especially those that feature Napoleon as a highly layered character – have always called to me. As a Jewish author, I am particularly drawn to a fair representation of Jewish characters in these tales – which frankly, Georgette Heyer does not, as she adheres to stereotypes in describing any Jewish characters. (I only forgive her because her books are so brilliant.)

Michelle's book list on historical fiction books on the French Revolution and Napoleon that portray real life

Michelle Cameron Why did Michelle love this book?

I especially treasured how the author used Napoleon’s own young writing to tell the story of his life – as well as the disappointments at the end of his life, including his defeat, imprisonment on Saint Helena, and his separation from his young son.

Margaret Rodenberg made me appreciate Napoleon’s indomitable spirit – the man refused to give up despite daunting odds!

By Margaret Rodenberg,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Finding Napoleon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Rodenberg inventively uses Bonaparte’s own unfinished novel to tell the story of the despot’s rise to power, which she juxtaposes against the story of his last love affair. Told creatively and with excellent research!” —Stephanie Dray, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of America's First Daughter and The Women of Chateau Lafayette

“Beautiful and poignant.” —Allison Pataki, New York Times best-selling author of The Queen’s Fortune

With its delightful adaptation of Napoleon Bonaparte’s real attempt to write romantic fiction, Finding Napoleon: A Novel offers a fresh take on Europe’s most powerful man after he’s lost everything—except his last…


Book cover of Napoleon: Passion, Death and Resurrection 1815-1840

Ambrogio A. Caiani Author Of To Kidnap a Pope: Napoleon and Pius VII

From my list on Napoleon, his rise to power, and his downfall.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Catholic Ireland in the 1980s and 1990s a time of rapid change just before the advent of the Celtic tiger. Experiencing such a transformative moment in the history of that island I became fascinated by revolution. With my Italian roots, I was always outward-looking and interested in just how interconnected European history can be. My work started with a book on the downward spiral of Louis XVI’s court in 1789-1792, but recently I became interested in how Napoleon exported the culture of the French Revolution wherever he went. Now I am preparing a book on Catholicism and the politics of religion during the age of revolutions 1700-1903.

Ambrogio's book list on Napoleon, his rise to power, and his downfall

Ambrogio A. Caiani Why did Ambrogio love this book?

Bizarrely not many quality works on Napoleon’s exile and afterlife exist in English. It is much to Dwyer’s credit to have written a superb account of the stricken eagle’s exile on Saint Helena.

It depicts well how the reality of confinement contrasted markedly with the myth that was fostered by exiles. This is an excellent analysis of these humid days on the South Atlantic followed in the second half by a masterful analysis of how Napoleon became the new Prometheus and Christ for liberals who opposed the Restoration. A riveting read.

By Philip Dwyer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Napoleon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Vibrant and illuminating ... [Dywer] tells a fascinating tale' The Times

This meticulously researched study opens with Napoleon no longer in power, but instead a prisoner on the island of St Helena. This may have been a great fall from power, but Napoleon still held immense attraction. Every day, huge crowds would gather on the far shore in the hope of catching a glimpse of him.

Philip Dwyer closes his ambitious trilogy exploring Napoleon's life, legacy and myth by moving from those first months of imprisonment, through the years of exile, up to death and then beyond, examining how the…


Book cover of May 1812

Greta van der Rol Author Of To Die a Dry Death: The True Story of the Batavia Shipwreck

From my list on historical fiction that carry you to another time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been interested in history, which is probably why I ended up with a BA(Hons) in history. One of the things that historical fiction can do better than a historical text is to take you there, let you live the events as they happened. It's important that the facts are correct, but so is the setting. The narrative has to be believable and convincing. I've done that with my own book, To Die a Dry Death, and I expect nothing less from the books I read.

Greta's book list on historical fiction that carry you to another time

Greta van der Rol Why did Greta love this book?

In 1812 Britain ruled the waves and Napoleon ruled everything else. We in the twenty-first century don’t realise how difficult and dangerous those times really were, how much of an analogy can be drawn with the dark days of World War II, when Britain stood alone against the forces in Europe. While the main plot line appears to be a simple romance, in fact Bennetts has gathered together strand after strand of conflict into a rich, absorbing tapestry. There's code-breaking, social mores, how to partake of snuff, politics, the assassination of the British PM. The story is utterly absorbing and very, very real.

By M. M. Bennetts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked May 1812 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1812. Europe has been at war for twenty years. Britain stands alone against the greatest threat to peace the world has ever known, at daily risk of a French invasion and revolution. In London, a handful of men struggle to protect their country and maintain the war effort. Among them, the Earl of Myddelton, code-breaker to the Foreign Office, strives to crack the most difficult French code yet-the Grand Chiffre-before still more men die on the battlefields of Europe. Then, on 11 May 1812, the unthinkable happens-the Prime Minister is assassinated. Amid widespread panic and fear of a French conspiracy,…


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