The best Napoleon books 📚

Browse the best books on Napoleon Bonaparte as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of The Napoleonic Wars: A Global History

The Napoleonic Wars: A Global History

By Alexander Mikaberidze

Why this book?

Although the Napoleonic Wars are most commonly discussed from a French perspective, with their roots in ideology and the Wars of the French Revolution, they are increasingly being understood as the climax of conflicts over power and colonial possessions that had raged between the major European powers across the long eighteenth century. In this hugely ambitious and highly readable book, Alex Mikaberidze considers the Napoleonic Wars as part of a wider global conflict in which France and Britain struggled for dominance, a conflict that extended to the Americas, Egypt, Iran, the Indian Ocean, even to China and Japan, and assesses…

From the list:

The best books on the global history of the French Revolution and Empire

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Book cover of Becoming Josephine: A Novel

Becoming Josephine: A Novel

By Heather Webb

Why this book?

I think most history fans know about the ill-fated relationship between Napoleon and Josephine, but I loved that this novel also highlighted Josephine’s early—and mostly forgotten—years spent in Haiti as France’s ideals of equality spurred the bloody Haitian Revolution. Josephine then also has to survive the French Revolution before she catches Napoleon’s eye.

From the list:

The best books on forgotten women in history

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Book cover of In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon's Wars, 1793-1815

In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon's Wars, 1793-1815

By Jenny Uglow

Why this book?

Jenny Uglow looks at the Napoleonic Wars period from the bottom up -- what life was like, how political issues affected the person in the street. Bankers, clergymen, working men and women, manufacturers, and statesmen all play roles in her narrative. Through the letters and diaries of ordinary people, she produces a vibrant picture of life in a period of unprecedented political, social, and economic turmoil. She still ends with the Battle of Waterloo, but Waterloo as experienced by the junior officers and enlisted men. A fascinating book, that shows how high politics and world events affected ordinary people and…

From the list:

The best books on Regency politics

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Book cover of Britain Against Napoleon: The Organization of Victory, 1793-1815

Britain Against Napoleon: The Organization of Victory, 1793-1815

By Roger Knight

Why this book?

This book is heavier going than the first two yet answers a deep and interesting question: how in a political system with dilettante politicians and tiny departments of amateur administrators, did Britain fight and eventually win a 20-year total war against a country with twice the population. The period’s politicians are here shown at work, wearing themselves down with long hours and short weekends, setting up policies and systems that could do the job. Their sheer intelligence and professionalism is remarkable; a century later Britain almost lost World War I because it had forgotten lessons about Naval convoys learned during…

From the list:

The best books on Regency politics

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Book cover of Napoleon: The Path to Power 1769 - 1799

Napoleon: The Path to Power 1769 - 1799

By Philip Dwyer

Why this book?

Napoleon Bonaparte brought a decade of revolutionary upheaval to an end when he seized power with the army in November 1799, but he had been made a general by the Revolution and was one of its most celebrated soldiers. The Revolution opened up opportunities for this Corsican “outsider” which would have been impossible before the Revolution: he grabbed them. Dwyer’s prize-winning account of Napoleon’s checkered rise to power at the age of thirty is also a gripping narrative of the unpredictability and drama of the revolutionary decade. It reveals the making of a man whose brilliance, military genius, and vision…

From the list:

The best books to understand the French Revolution

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

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

By Dominic Lieven

Why this book?

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…

From the list:

The best books on Napoleon and an era that shook Europe to its core

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