100 books like The Peninsular War

By Charles J. Esdaile,

Here are 100 books that The Peninsular War fans have personally recommended if you like The Peninsular War. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Wellington: The Path to Victory 1769-1814

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?

Speaking of which, this is the first of a two-volume biography of Wellington and is no doubt the most exhaustive and the most up-to-date biography of the man and his career. I’ve personally always found Wellington to be a fairly unlikeable character and there is nothing in this biography that made me change my mind. However, Muir’s familiarity with the sources and the archives enables him to integrate the personal, the military, and the political into this thorough examination of the man that ultimately defeated Napoleon.

By Rory Muir,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A landmark contribution to understanding the real man behind the heroic legend inspired by the triumph at Waterloo

The Duke of Wellington was not just Britain's greatest soldier, although his seismic struggles as leader of the Allied forces against Napoleon in the Peninsular War deservedly became the stuff of British national legend. Wellington was much more: a man of vision beyond purely military matters, a politically astute thinker, and a canny diplomat as well as lover, husband, and friend. Rory Muir's masterful new biography, the first of a two-volume set, is the fruit of a lifetime's research and discovery into…


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

Roger Knight Author Of Convoys: The British Struggle Against Napoleonic Europe and America

From my list on history to change your ideas on the Napoleonic Wars.

Why am I passionate about this?

For fifty years I've studied the British sailing navy, fascinated by its workings, the slow communications, the vagaries of the winds and tides. In parallel with my work in archives, I've sailed in most of the European waters described in Convoys. I worked at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, for 27 years, leaving as Deputy Director in 2000. Since then, I've taught postgraduates and written about Nelson and the British government (Britain against Napoleon), and became convinced that Britain came very close to being defeated by Napoleonic France. If Napoleon had not thrown it all away by his invasion of Russia in 1812, I might be writing this in French, with a very different script! 

Roger's book list on history to change your ideas on the Napoleonic Wars

Roger Knight Why did Roger love this book?

The most important strategic fact in this war was the defeat of Napoleon’s great army which invaded Russia in 1812, and its destruction by winter weather during the retreat from Moscow later that year. It was a blow from which Napoleon never recovered.

This fascinating book is written from Russian sources, bringing the extraordinary story of the decision to abandon and burn Moscow, and how the Russian army was used and commanded. No one who looks at the war as a whole can ignore this book. The fact that Hitler repeated the same mistake of invading Russia in 1941 makes it even more powerful.

By Dominic Lieven,

Why should I read it?

4 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…


Book cover of The Transformation of European Politics 1763-1848

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?

This masterful analysis of European foreign policy encompasses a period slightly larger than the life of Napoleon, but the core of the book is the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. On first reading this I was struck not only by the depth and breadth of Schroeder’s knowledge, but also by his uncanny ability to question standard interpretations and to present an original and oftentimes provocative evaluation. This book made me think about how best to write history. Elegantly written, this is an accomplished tome that will be read by students of foreign policy for many years to come. 

By Paul W. Schroeder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Transformation of European Politics 1763-1848 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the only modern study of European politics to cover the entire timespan from the end of the Seven Years' War in 1763 to the revolutionary year of 1848. Paul Schroeder's comprehensive and authoritative volume charts the course of international history over this turbulent period, in which the map of Europe was redrawn time and again. Professor Schroeder examines the wars, political crises, and diplomatic opportunities of the age, many of which - the
Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, the Congress of Vienna and its aftermath - had far-reaching consequences for modern Europe.

Professor Schroeder provides a new account of…


Book cover of The First Total War: Napoleon's Europe and the Birth of Warfare as We Know It

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?

Not everyone agreed with the author’s assessment of the Napoleonic Wars as the first total war, and I can’t say that I am overly convinced myself, but Bell presents the reader with an interesting and provocative interpretation of the practice of warfare at the dawn of the modern era. I came away with a better appreciation of the horror of battle and war during this period, something that is often glossed over in the standard military histories of the era. Was the practice of ‘total war’ brought about by mass conscription or had the seeds already been planted? 

By David A. Bell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

World War I has been called 'the war to end all wars', the first time combatants were mobilized on a massive scale to ruthlessly destroy an enemy. But as David A. Bell argues in this tour de force of interpretive history, the Great War was not, in fact, the first total war. For this, we need to travel back to the era of muskets and sailing ships, the age of Napoleon. According to Bell, it was then that warfare was transformed into the hideous spectacle that seems ever present today. Indeed, nearly every modern aspect of war took root in…


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 Sharpe's Eagle

Sean Gabhann Author Of Harper's Donelson

From my list on heroic epics escaping into conflicts of the past.

Why am I passionate about this?

Epic war novels follow traditions that trace to the earliest civilizations. An amateur historian since high school, I would nook away for hours reading the great campaigns of the past. As a combat veteran, I still love diving into a lengthy tome about Caesar versus the Gauls or the heroic Russian stand at Borodino. Retirement provided the time to indulge this passion by concentrating on the Western Theater of the American Civil War (ACW), an interest I have researched since the ACW Centennial. I enjoy writing rigorously researched stories to give more accurate descriptions of the events, attitudes, prejudices, and consequences of this critical period in American history.

Sean's book list on heroic epics escaping into conflicts of the past

Sean Gabhann Why did Sean love this book?

This is the army counterpart to the Hornblower Series. The story begins in 1794 with 17 y/o Richard Sharpe deployed to Flanders as a private and continues through India, Spain, and France, ending as a lieutenant colonel at the Battle of Waterloo. A final volume carries the series to St. Helena and Chile, ending in 1820.

Sharpe and his men are always presented with challenges that require heroic acts of daring-do where Sharpe’s gutter-snipe cunning and that of his men ensure that he somehow accomplishes the mission. As one might expect, the size of his company of chosen riflemen dwindles continuously through the series, and becoming Sharpe’s love interest often seems a fatal prospect.

I enjoyed reading many of the stories at a time when I commuted regularly between the west and east coasts. The books are convenient in that one can begin a story during the outbound flight and…

By Bernard Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Sharpe's Eagle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bernard Cornwell's action-packed series that captures the gritty texture of Napoleonic warfare--now beautifully repackaged

Captain Richard Sharpe prepares to lead his men against the army of Napoleon at Talavera in what will be the bloodiest battle of the war. After their cowardly loss of the regiment's colors, the men's resentment toward the upstart Sharpe turns to treachery, and Sharpe must fight to redeem the honor of his regiment.


Book cover of Napoleonic Wars in Cartoons

Lisa Chaplin Author Of The Tide Watchers

From my list on hidden histories on The Napoleonic Wars.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a very ordinary person. A history and literary nerd. A wife and mother. I don’t have any M.As or PhDs. I started teaching myself to write in 1991, and after joining the Romance Writers of America, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as Writing NSW (New South Wales), I had my first writing award, and first short story published in 1997. I got my first writing contract in 2000 (Silhouette Books, NY). I quit romance in 2012 to focus on historical fiction and YA, both of which I still love, and putting a little romance in there never hurts. I've given workshops and talks for the Historical Novel Societies of Australia and North America.

Lisa's book list on hidden histories on The Napoleonic Wars

Lisa Chaplin Why did Lisa love this book?

This book shows the caricatures done by cartoonists of the time. If you pay enough attention to the dates, these can shed new or deeper light on accepted history. The minutiae of these cartoons teaches you a lot about the time and the thoughts of the general public, or how the media wanted to sway them to think. For example, on pages 24 and 25, the cartoons show “Citizen Fox” – showing this British subject living in France as joining the Republican system. “French Telegraph Making Signals in the Dark” (James Gillray) and “The Raft in Danger, or the Republican Crew Disappointed” (Isaac Cruikshank) shows the many wild rumors and general fear of French invasion around 1798, after the failed invasion via Ireland, who was then fighting for independence from the crushing absentee English landlords. Going deeper with this idea, you can see the fear of war on two fronts…

By Mark Bryant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Napoleonic Wars in Cartoons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NAPOLEON BONAPARTE, the junior artillery officer of the French Revolution who became emperor and dictator of nearly all of western Europe, was the most caricatured figure of his time, with almost 1000 satirical drawings being produced about his exploits by British artists alone. Long before the advent of illustrated daily or weekly newspapers these hand-coloured prints were a major source of news and opinion and had considerable impact on the public at large. From the battles of the Nile, Copenhagen, Trafalgar, Austerlitz, Jena and Leipzig to the Peninsular War, the invasion of Russia, exile on Elba and his final defeat…


Book cover of Sharpe's Rifles

C.W. Lovatt Author Of The Adventures of Charlie Smithers

From my list on historical fiction of the UK.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was very young, in our tiny hamlet on the Canadian prairies, I recall riding with other children in the Dominion Day parade. Each child was given a little flag to wave, but even then I noticed that while half were given the old dominion flag, the other half were waving the Union Jack. I couldn’t put it into words then, naturally, but later I recognized it as a feeling of being part of something grand – something far larger than myself or even my own country. Those were the dying days of the Empire and the world has moved on, but a fascination for our history lingers to this day.

C.W.'s book list on historical fiction of the UK

C.W. Lovatt Why did C.W. love this book?

Cornwell is a solid prose writer, and his research is every bit as meticulous as MacDonald Fraser’s. That this book takes place in the Peninsula Campaign is what caused me to pick it from the shelf and give it a read in the first place. Everything from the strategy and tactics of generals to the gruelling life of the ordinary foot soldier - right down to the loading procedure for the Baker rifle - is intricately interwoven with the plot. A must-read for any amateur student of the Napoleonic Wars.

By Bernard Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Sharpe's Rifles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bernard Cornwell's action-packed series that captures the gritty texture of Napoleonic warfare--now beautifully repackaged

It's 1809, and Napoleon's army is sweeping across Spain. Lieutenant Richard Sharpe is newly in command of the demoralized, distrustful men of the 95th Rifles. He must lead them to safety--and the only way of escape is a treacherous trek through the enemy-infested mountains of Spain.


Book cover of Tactics and the Experience of Battle in the Age of Napoleon

Charles J. Esdaile Author Of The Peninsular War: A New History

From my list on the Peninsular War for hardcore history lovers.

Why am I passionate about this?

For thirty-one years a member of the History Department of the University of Liverpool prior to his retirement in 2020, Charles J. Esdaile has written a host of books on the Napoleonic era, but is particularly knowledgeable in respect of the Peninsular War of 1808-1814, a subject to whose historiography he has made an extraordinary contribution. Thus, setting aside a host of articles and conference papers, he has published eight books on the subject. 

Charles' book list on the Peninsular War for hardcore history lovers

Charles J. Esdaile Why did Charles love this book?

A study of the mechanics of combat in the Napoleonic era, this work is billed As covering the whole gamut of the Napoleonic Wars, but the bulk of the material on which it is based is drawn from the Peninsular War, and so it may be viewed as primarily belonging to the historiography of that conflict. As such, it is excellent, however: if anyone is looking for something that will give them an insight into what the officers and men of the British and French armies went through on the battlefields of Spain and Portugal, this is very much the place to go.

By Rory Muir,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tactics and the Experience of Battle in the Age of Napoleon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What was it like to be a soldier on a Napoleonic battlefield? What happened when cavalry regiments charged directly at one another? What did the generals do during battle? Drawing on memoirs, diaries, and letters of the time, this dramatic book explores what actually happened in battle and how the participants' feelings and reactions influenced the outcome. Rory Muir focuses on the dynamics of combat in the age of Napoleon, enhancing his analysis with vivid accounts of those who were there-the frightened foot soldier, the general in command, the young cavalry officer whose boils made it impossible to ride, and…


Book cover of Wellington: The Years of the Sword

Jane Harvey-Berrick Author Of Troll: My Life in Bomb Disposal

From my list on first-hand accounts of warzones.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have no expertise in the military – I wish I did. But I have incredible respect for their work. I remember reading about the death of Oz Schmid, a bomb disposal officer who was killed in Afghanistan. It was the bravery of his widow, Christina, discussing the appalling lack of equipment and her quiet dignity that touched me profoundly. I asked myself, what can I do to help? Being a writer, I decided to write about it. I quickly realised that I needed an insider’s insight, and found Troll through Felix Fund, the bomb disposal charity. Troll and I wrote the play Later, After, seeing it performed was the proudest moment of my career. 

Jane's book list on first-hand accounts of warzones

Jane Harvey-Berrick Why did Jane love this book?

I read this when I was reading Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe books, and I thought Longford’s account of a flawed but brilliant man was astounding. Very readable with in-depth insight and research. It sparked a lifelong fascination with the Peninsular War.

By Elizabeth Longford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Biography


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Interested in the Peninsular War, the Napoleonic Wars, and Spain?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Peninsular War, the Napoleonic Wars, and Spain.

The Peninsular War Explore 13 books about the Peninsular War
The Napoleonic Wars Explore 66 books about the Napoleonic Wars
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