10 books like The Napoleonic Wars

By Alexander Mikaberidze,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Napoleonic Wars. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Waverley

By Sir Walter Scott,

Book cover of Waverley

To understand the trauma caused by the Napoleonic Wars, and the craving of people in France, Europe and elsewhere to return to the ‘normal pace of times’ as the Austrian Statesman Clemens von Metternich had it, Walter Scott’s ‘Waverley’ is the best vehicle to convey ourselves into the mindset of the contemporary Europeans. Europe had to curb the ‘evil passions’ and had to ‘come to its senses’. Just as Waverley’s young hero Edward does by letting go of his romantic love for the rebellious Flora and returning in the arms of his very English, quiet and harmonious fiancée, Rose. Scott’s Waverley came out in 1814, was a bestselling success in Britain and on the European continent. The protagonists of my book, Fighting terror, read it. And it still is a great read for us today, for rainy days.

Waverley

By Sir Walter Scott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Life with his regiment in Scotland is dull until he visits his uncle's friends in the Highlands, where he meets Fergus McIvor and his sister Flora. Attracted by the wild freedom and romance of the Scottish clans, Edward finds himself in a difficult and dangerous position. His new friends are Jacobites, planning to overthrow King George and restore the Stuart monarchy. The Jacobites rise in rebellion. When Prince Charles leads an invasion of England, Edward's loyalties are hopelessly divided. Whose side will he take? And what fate awaits them all?


Mrs. Adams in Winter

By Michael O'Brien,

Book cover of Mrs. Adams in Winter: A Journey in the Last Days of Napoleon

I already mentioned this gripping account of a 40-days trip of a lonely lady in a solitary carriage, hobbling from St. Petersburg, via Riga, Tilsit to Paris above. Everyone interested in the Napoleonic Wars, should also feel obliged to read her account, how she witnessed ‘houses half burnt’, a war ‘shedding its gloom around all the objects, announcing devastation and despair’. And how happy she was when being helped by allied soldiers, and upon reaching her destination safe and sound (with her little boy) in Paris, where the allied leaders were setting up their headquarters.

Mrs. Adams in Winter

By Michael O'Brien,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mrs. Adams in Winter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Early in 1815, Louisa Catherine Adams and her young son left St. Petersburg in a heavy Russian carriage and set out on a difficult journey to meet her husband, John Quincy Adams, in Paris. She traveled through the snows of Eastern Europe, across the battlefields of Germany, and into a France then experiencing the tumultuous events of Napoleon's return from Elba. The prize-winning historian Michael O'Brien reconstructs for the first time Louisa Adams's extraordinary passage. An evocative history of the experience of travel in the days of carriages and kings, Mrs. Adams in Winter offers a moving portrait of a…


The Congress of Vienna

By Brian E. Vick,

Book cover of The Congress of Vienna: Power and Politics After Napoleon

It was not just the generals and heads of states that convened in Vienna to make the world safe after Napoleon. Brian Vick excavated all kinds of archival and material evidence to show how artists, composers, entrepreneurs, writers, fashion agents and other unofficial opinion-shapers worked to turn the Congress of Vienna into a success, and helped to create a new international system in Europe. Vick even lists the Congress’s items of merchandise, memorabilia (be it snuffboxes or teacups adorned with royal portraits) that were sold enthusiastically in the narrow streets around the Hofburg and elsewhere in the capitals throughout Europe. Waging peace was as much a political, as a consumerist affair.

The Congress of Vienna

By Brian E. Vick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Convened following Napoleon's defeat in 1814, the Congress of Vienna is remembered as much for the pageantry of the royals and elites who gathered there as for the landmark diplomatic agreements they brokered. Historians have nevertheless generally dismissed these spectacular festivities as window dressing when compared with the serious, behind-the-scenes maneuverings of sovereigns and statesmen. Brian Vick finds this conventional view shortsighted, seeing these instead as two interconnected dimensions of politics. Examining them together yields a more complete picture of how one of the most important diplomatic summits in history managed to redraw the map of Europe and the international…


Our Friends the Enemies

By Christine Haynes,

Book cover of Our Friends the Enemies: The Occupation of France After Napoleon

Where my book, Fighting Terror, zooms in on the Allied Council, and its encompassing security culture, Christine Haynes’ rich and detailed book reconstructs the interactions between occupying soldiers and the occupied in Paris and across the French countryside. She meticulously details how these interactions involved violence, but also promoted cultural exchange (vernacular, songs, dances, fashion, food) and reconciliation between the French and their former enemies. Her book reads as a narrative on how to transform former enemies into allies, a unique blueprint for fraternizing-through-occupying on the ground.

Our Friends the Enemies

By Christine Haynes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Our Friends the Enemies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Napoleonic wars did not end with Waterloo. That famous battle was just the beginning of a long, complex transition to peace. After a massive invasion of France by more than a million soldiers from across Europe, the Allied powers insisted on a long-term occupation of the country to guarantee that the defeated nation rebuild itself and pay substantial reparations to its conquerors. Our Friends the Enemies provides the first comprehensive history of the post-Napoleonic occupation of France and its innovative approach to peacemaking.

From 1815 to 1818, a multinational force of 150,000 men under the command of the Duke…


Russia Against Napoleon

By Dominic Lieven,

Book cover of Russia Against Napoleon: The Battle for Europe, 1807 to 1814

Perhaps the single greatest study to emerge from a formidable list of fine books on the Russian contribution to the defeat of Napoleon. Beautifully written, interlaced with vivid pen portraits of some of the most colourful characters of the age, Lieven writes with sympathy and insight of a country assailed and battered by Napoleon, and gives his readers a sensitive account of how the Tsar and his people rose to the challenge, and also of how they often came close to disaster. He follows their advance across Europe from the depths of their heartland to the Champs Elysées with the perfect blend of scholarship and humanity.

Russia Against Napoleon

By Dominic Lieven,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Russia Against Napoleon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A compulsive page-turner ... a triumph of brilliant storytelling ... an instant classic that is an awesome, remarkable and exuberant achievement' Simon Sebag Montefiore

Winner of the Wolfson History Prize and shortlisted for the Duff Cooper Prize

In the summer of 1812 Napoleon, the master of Europe, marched into Russia with the largest army ever assembled, confident that he would sweep everything before him. Yet less than two years later his empire lay in ruins, and Russia had triumphed. This is the first history to explore in depth Russia's crucial role in the Napoleonic Wars, re-creating the epic battle between…


Arab France

By Ian Coller,

Book cover of Arab France: Islam and the Making of Modern Europe, 1798-1831

Ian Coller’s study shows how, even in the Napoleonic era, the empire was a two-way process that left a lasting legacy for modern France. He discusses the community of Arabs - several hundred Egyptians, Syrians, and others - who followed the French army back home after the Egyptian Campaign to settle in France, mainly in Marseille and Paris. They faced critical issues of identity and cultural isolation, forging few links with the native French, and their story leads Coller to reflect on the history of France more generally, with due emphasis on the processes of memory formation and forgetting.

Arab France

By Ian Coller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Many think of Muslims in Europe as a twentieth century phenomenon, but this book brings to life a lost community of Arabs who lived through war, revolution, and empire in early nineteenth century France. Ian Coller uncovers the surprising story of the several hundred men, women, and children - Egyptians, Syrians, Greeks, and others - who followed the French army back home after Napoleon's occupation of Egypt. Based on research in neglected archives, on the rediscovery of forgotten Franco-Arab authors, and on a diverse collection of visual materials, the book builds a rich picture of the first Arab France -…


Bonapartists in the Borderlands

By Rafe Blaufarb,

Book cover of Bonapartists in the Borderlands: French Exiles and Refugees on the Gulf Coast, 1815-1835

Napoleon’s defeat led to the demobilization of thousands of soldiers and their officers, and a sudden surplus of weapons and ammunition that would be exported to feed other wars across the world, especially in the Americas. Some of these men remained adventurers, unable to settle into civilian life, and serving the cause of independence in revolutions across Central and Latin America. Others tried to establish a French way of life in the New World, among them the colonies of settlers in the American South studied by Rafe Blaufarb in this pioneering study of the Vine and Olive communities in Alabama.

Bonapartists in the Borderlands

By Rafe Blaufarb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bonapartists in the Borderlands as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bonapartists in the Borderlands recounts how Napoleonic exiles and French refugees from Europe and the Caribbean joined forces with Latin American insurgents, Gulf pirates, and international adventures to seek their fortune in the Gulf borderlands. The U.S. Congress welcomed the French to America and granted them a large tract of rich Black Belt land near Demopolis, Alabama, on the condition that they would establish a Mediterranean-style Vine and Olive colony. This book debunks the standard account of the colony, which stresses the failure of the aristocratic, luxury-loving French to tame the wilderness. Instead, it shows that the Napoleonic officers involved…


Waves Across the South

By Sujit Sivasundaram,

Book cover of Waves Across the South: A New History of Revolution and Empire

The first book to successfully show that the age of revolutions also manifested itself in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. The book also reveals how the British “neutralized” (in what the author calls an “imperial counter-revolt” of "counter-revolution") the age of revolution by coopting concepts of liberty, free trade, reason, and progress. 

Waves Across the South

By Sujit Sivasundaram,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Waves Across the South as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a story of tides and coastlines, winds and waves, islands and beaches. It is also a retelling of indigenous creativity, agency, and resistance in the face of unprecedented globalization and violence. Waves Across the South shifts the narrative of the Age of Revolutions and the origins of the British Empire; it foregrounds a vast southern zone that ranges from the Arabian Sea and southwest Indian Ocean across to the Bay of Bengal, and onward to the South Pacific and the Tasman Sea. As the empires of the Dutch, French, and especially the British reached across these regions, they…


Disorder

By Helen Thompson,

Book cover of Disorder: Hard Times in the 21st Century

The book that has come closest to making me think it may really all be about oil after all! Or energy at least. Although written before the all-out Russian invasion of Ukraine, Thompson shows that the origins of the war go back far beyond 2014 or even 1991, but rather lie in the 1950s – when Anglo-French power in the MENA region was broken, first by the 1956 Suez War and then by Algeria’s secession from France in 1962, which in turn would lead to West Germany becoming dependent on the USSR for energy – a dependence that lasts to this day. Her account of the geopolitical consequences of the US fracking revolution is superb – prompting me to think that the Ukraine war can be seen as a battle over who will supply the European energy market. Once the LNG terminals in northern Europe are built, the US has…

Disorder

By Helen Thompson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Getting to grips with the overlapping geopolitical, economic, and political crises faced by Western democratic societies in the 2020s.

The 21st century has brought a powerful tide of geopolitical, economic, and democratic shocks. Their fallout has led central banks to create over $25 trillion of new money, brought about a new age of geopolitical competition, destabilised the Middle East, ruptured the European Union, and exposed old political fault lines in the United States.

Disorder: Hard Times in the 21st Century is a long history of this present political moment. It recounts three histories - one about geopolitics, one about the…


Prisoners of Geography, 1

By Tim Marshall,

Book cover of Prisoners of Geography, 1: Ten Maps That Explain Everything about the World

This book has helped me to frame my own experiences of travel and how to write about other countries. In his wry, low-key, non-academic style, Marshall sweeps through history, arguing persuasively that geography—mountain ranges, seas, rivers, deserts, and so on—has been key to the rise and fall of empires and nations. Mountains form a natural barrier, not only to migration and commerce, but to invading armies; open plains make the movement of people, goods, and armies easier. Many national borders, especially those of former European colonies, are artificial and, unprotected by natural barriers, consequently fragile. Marshall, who has reported on conflicts in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and the Middle East, breaks down geopolitics in clear and simple terms, with insightful chapters on countries and regions.

Prisoners of Geography, 1

By Tim Marshall,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Prisoners of Geography, 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this New York Times bestseller, an award-winning journalist uses ten maps of crucial regions to explain the geo-political strategies of the world powers—“fans of geography, history, and politics (and maps) will be enthralled” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram).

Maps have a mysterious hold over us. Whether ancient, crumbling parchments or generated by Google, maps tell us things we want to know, not only about our current location or where we are going but about the world in general. And yet, when it comes to geo-politics, much of what we are told is generated by analysts and other experts who have neglected…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in geopolitics, military history, and the Napoleonic Wars?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about geopolitics, military history, and the Napoleonic Wars.

Geopolitics Explore 21 books about geopolitics
Military History Explore 31 books about military history
The Napoleonic Wars Explore 55 books about the Napoleonic Wars