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Books - Napoleonic Wars

General Works

Triumph & Disasters - Eyewitness Accounts of the Netherlands Campaign 1813-1814, Andrew Bamford. Six eyewitness accounts of the British campaign in the Netherlands in 1813-1814, best known for the disastrous attack on Bergen-op-Zoom. The fairly vacuous diary of a young Guards officer will probably stick longest in the mind, but all six sources are of value for gaining an understanding of this campaign, and of the British military experience during the Napoleonic Wars, covering a wide range of topics from the pleasures of the hunt to the humiliation of being a prisoner [read full review]
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The End of Empire: Napoleon's 1814 Campaign, George Nafziger . A very detailed examination of Napoleon's attempts to defend France against a massive Allied invasion early in 1814. Despite one of his best performances Napoleon was unable to take advantage of poor Allied leadership, and was actually absent when the Allies finally captured Paris, fatally undermining his legitimacy and public support and ending his regime (at least until 1815). [read full review]
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The Napoleonic Art of Keith Rocco, Peter Harrington. Looks at the paintings of a modern proponent of the historical painting genre, with high quality prints of a wide selection of his paintings, ranging from studies of individual soldiers to large scale battle scenes. Supported by a useful text that explains the historical context for the painting and the artist's methods and motivation. [read full review]
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Walcheren 1809, Martin R. Howard. A history of one of the great disasters of British military history, when a large army was sent to try and capture Antwerp but stalled at Walcheren where disease destroyed the army. A good study of a failed amphibious expedition and an example of how not to carry out a large scale expedition [read full review]
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The Battle of Maida 1806, Fifteen Minutes of Glory, Richard Hopton. A detailed account of the first significant victory won by the British army against the troops of Napoleonic France, fought in southern Italy after the failure of the Third Coalition. An excellent account of the background to the battle, the fighting at Maida, the aftermath and its significance within the wider Napoleonic War. [read full review]
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The Art of War: Restored Edition, Baron Antoine Henri de Jomini. Jomini's Art of War was one of the most important works of military theory to come out of the Napoleonic Wars, and for many years dominated military thinking on both sides of the Atlantic. This edition uses the standard translation of 1862, but with the addition of Jomini's introduction which includes some fascinating insights into his rivalry with Clausewitz. No longer an essential book for every budding military commander, the Art of War is still invaluable for anyone with a serious interest in the Napoleonic Wars. [see more]
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Oxford History of the French RevolutionOxford History of the French Revolution, William Doyle, OUP, 2003, 496 pages.

A well written, detailed account of the events that led up to the French Revolution, the events of 1789 that sent shockwaves throughout Europe, the descent into chaos and terror and the various attempts that were made to form a stable republican government, ending with the coup that brought Napoleon Bonaparte to power [SEE MORE]

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Biographies and Memoirs

The Grand Old Duke of York - A Life of Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, 1763-1827, Derek Winterbottom . The first biography of the British Commander-in-Chief during the Napoleonic Wars for sixty years, this paints a generally positive picture of the Duke, who emerges as a capable Commander-in-Chief who introduced a series of useful reforms in the British Army, and probably helped keep the army loyal during the long Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Good coverage of his period as a field commander in the Low Countries, and his fairly colourful private life [read full review]
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Waterloo 1815 - Captain Mercer's Journal, ed. W.H. Fitchett. A fascinating account of the Waterloo campaign as seen by an officer in the horse-artillery, focusing almost entirely on events as they were known to Mercer at the time. As a result we get a real idea of the fog of war and just how little an participant in a major battle might know about the wider events of the day. [read full review]
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The Very Thing: The Memoirs of Drummer Richard Bentinck, Royal Welch Fusiliers 1807-1823, Jonathan Crook. Based on a series of interviews conducted with Bentinck in 1873 and a narrative that he dictated in his old age, and supported by a historical narrative that fills the gaps and explains the context of the memoirs, this is a fascinating view of the life of the British soldier in the Napoleonic Wars. [read full review]
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Albuera

Albuera 1811, The Bloodiest Battle of the Peninsular War, Guy Dempsey. A detailed account of the battle itself, supported by useful material on the wider campaign, the treatment of the wounded and dead and the arguments wages long after the battle by many of the main figures involved in the fighting. [read full review]
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Aspern, Wagram and the War of 1809

1809 Thunder on the Danube: Napoleon's Defeat of the Habsburgs, Volume II: Aspern, John H. Gill. The second volume in this high quality series looks at the fall of Vienna and Napoleon's first defeat at Aspern-Essling, as well as widening the picture to look at events in Italy and Dalmatia. Brilliantly researched and yet thoroughly readable, this is an essential book for anyone interested in the period. [read full review]
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1809 Thunder on the Danube: Napoleon's Defeat of the Habsburgs, Volume I: Abensberg, John H. Gill. The first volume in a monumental account of the 1809 war between France and the Habsburg Empire, Napoleon's last victorious war, looking at the reasons behind the Austrian declaration of war and the early battles that ended the Austrian invasion of Bavaria and paved the war for Napoleon's campaign around Vienna. [read full review]
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1809 Thunder on the Danube: Napoleon's Defeat of the Habsburgs, Volume III: Wagram and Znaim, John H. Gill. The third part of a very impressive narrative history of the War of the Fifth Coalition, looking at the final battles at Wagram and Znaim and the subsidiary campaigns in Poland, Hungary, Dalmatia, Styria and the Tyrol. Manages to be both very detailed and readable and coherent, a very impressive achievement. [read full review]
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Aspern and Wagram, 1809, Ian Castle. An interesting Osprey campaign book covering some of the largest but often forgotten battles of the Napoleonic wars, including Aspern, Napoleon's first defeat on the battlefield. It is clearly written and of great use to those interested in the Austrian Army of the period [see more]
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Austerlitz

Austerlitz 1805, Ian Castle An excellent introduction to one of the most famous battles in History and a classic of military deception and manoeuvring. Austerlitz was the battle which truly establishes Napoleons reputation. [see more]
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cover Austerlitz 1805 , David G.Chandler, A detailed and colourful book written by one of the accepted experts on the Napoleonic period. This book contains excellent 2D and 3D maps and a guide to wargaming the battle.
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Badajoz


Link to Badajoz by Ian FletcherBadajoz, 1812: Wellingtons Bloodiest Siege, Ian Fletcher. The town of Badajoz was much fought over during the Peninsular war and this detailed and lengthy osprey covers the siege of 1812 which was the hardiest fought and bloodiest of the war, in whose aftermath the British army displayed savagery and wanton destruction rarely seen as the British troops brutally sacked the town. [see more]
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The Berezina

The Battle of the Berezina, Napoleon's Great Escape, Alexander Mikaberidze. A very detailed account of the battles on the Berezina River that marked the end of the real fighting during Napoleon's disastrous Russian campaign of 1812 and saw Napoleon and his Marshals escape from between three Russian armies, although at a heavy cost. [read full review]
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Borodino

Borodino 1812, Napoleon's Great Gamble, Philip Haythornthwaite. Two thirds a history of the 1812 campaign and one third an account of the battle of Borodino itself, this is a successful shorter history of Napoleon's doomed invasion of Russia. Gives a clearer view of a battle than is sometimes the case in longer works [read full review]
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The Battle of Borodino, Napoleon against Kutuzov, Alexander Mikaberidze. A valuable new study of the bloody battle of Borodino, looking at the course of the battle and examining the many historical controversies that have grown up since the fighting ended, both at the time and in later historical debates. [read full review]
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Corunna

Corunna 1809, Philip J. Haythornthwaite. A 96 page Osprey campaign book written by one of the leading authors on the Peninsular war. It is packed full of 3 D maps, colour artist plates and black and white images and some contemporary photographs of the battle area. It is better organised and laid out than many Ospreys which makes for better reading and includes orders of battle for the forces involved [see more]
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EggMuhl

EggmuhlEggMuhl 1809, Ian Castle. A very detailed account of this complex campaign with the usual high standard of 3 d battle maps, black and white and colour pictures and impressive battle scenes. Includes sections on war gaming the campaign and the battlefields today. Very useful for anyone looking at the Austrian army of the time and sheds light on events in Europe that are often over looked due to the Peninsular war. [SEE MORE]
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Jena

Jena, 1806, David Chandler. A 96 page osprey campaign book with the usual winning combination of orders of battle, 3D and 2D colour maps, black and white plates and colour plates. This book covers the campaign which many feel was Napoleon's best and which the German high command took inspiration from when planning the Blitzkrieg of World War Two.  [see more]
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Leipzig

Leipzig 1813: The Battle of the Nations, Peter Hofschroer, Osprey, 1993, 96 pages. A very well regarded entry in the Osprey catalogue, covering not just the battle of Leipzig but the entire German campaign of 1813 that led to the final collapse of Napoleon's empire. [see more]
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Marengo

The Battle of Marengo, 1800, Olivier Lapray. An account of the battle of Marango told largely from the French point of view, starting with northern Italy back in Austrian hands and tracing Napoleon's successful efforts to restore his earlier conquests. The main strength of this book is the excellent selection of pictures, covering Napoleon's dramatic crossing of the Alps, the advance into Italy, the two armies and the battle itself. [read full review]
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cover Marengo 1800 , David Hollins, A well illustrated and colour book containing a vast amount of detail on this important early Napoleonic battle. Contains an extensive guide to wargamming the campaign
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Salamanca

Salamanca 1812 - Wellington's Year of Victories, Peter Edwards. A look at Wellington's campaigns of 1812, from the sieges of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz to the triumph at Salamanca, the failure at Burgos and the retreat back to Portugal at the end of a year that saw the French permanently forced out of large parts of Spain. A good account of this campaign, copiously illustrated with carefully used eyewitness accounts. [read full review]
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Link to review of Salamanca by Ian FletcherSalamanca, 1812, Ian Fletcher. A comprehensive and easy to read study of what many consider the key battle in the Peninsular War. Once Wellington crushed the French at Salamanca, the British and their allies would have the upper hand in the long drawn out struggle to come. [see more]
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Talavera

Talavera 1809, René Chartrand. A good shorter history of one of Wellington's first victories in Spain, the defeat of King Joseph and Marshalls Victor and Jourdan at Talavera. Good on the problems within the French command, the difficult relationship between Wellington and his Spanish allies, and more generous to the Spanish than many English-language accounts of the battle. [read full review]
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Vittoria

VittoriaVittoria 1813, Ian Fletcher. A colourful and detailed account of the battle as well as event leading up to and in the aftermath. Filled with 3-d maps, colour and black and white plates and illustrations this is an excellent book. Sections cover war gaming the battle and the battlefield today, with the war game section being very detailed and discussing several types of game and methods of recreating the campaign. [SEE MORE]
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Waterloo

Waterloo: The Decisive Victory, ed. Colonel Nick Lipscombe . Ten excellent articles covering the main aspects of the Waterloo campaign, from the strategic background to the long term impact of the battle, as well as the main elements of the fighting itself. Provides good detailed examinations of the key elements of the battle, in particular the main cavalry charges and the Prussian contribution to the fighting [read full review]
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Waterloo 1815 (1) - Quatre Bras, John Franklin . First of a trilogy on the Waterloo campaign, looking at the battle at the crossroads of Quatre Bras where Napoleon suffered his first setback of the campaign. A well written, densely packed account of the battle, with two thirds of the book dedicated to the actual fighting. Can be read as a stand-alone title or as part of the trilogy. [read full review]
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Waterloo 1815 (2): Ligny, John Franklin. . Second in a trilogy on the Waterloo campaign, looking at the least familiar of the three battles to the English-language reader, the French victory over the Prussians at Ligny, fought on the same day as the successful Allied defensive battle at Quatre Bras. This is a good study of Napoleon's last battlefield victory, and the last of the many 'missed opportunities' of his later years. [read full review]
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Waterloo 1815 (3) Mont St Jean and Wavre, John Franklin . Focuses on the events of 18 June, with most of the text dedicated to the fighting at Waterloo, allowing the author to pack in a great deal of information into the limited space. An excellent account of the battle, weaving the Prussian contribution into the main narrative to give a better impression of how important their contribution actually was. [read full review]
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Waterloo 1815 - Captain Mercer's Journal, ed. W.H. Fitchett. A fascinating account of the Waterloo campaign as seen by an officer in the horse-artillery, focusing almost entirely on events as they were known to Mercer at the time. As a result we get a real idea of the fog of war and just how little an participant in a major battle might know about the wider events of the day. [read full review]
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The Waterloo Archive: Volume IV: British Sources, ed. Gareth Glover. A splendid selection of sources, mainly letters written just before and after the battle of Waterloo, describing the campaign, the battle itself and its aftermath. Provides a mix of personal accounts of the fighting, rumours from the period before and after and the mundane concern of the soldiers in the field. A fantastic source for anyone interested in Waterloo or in Napoleonic warfare in general. [read full review]
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Waterloo Collection 1: Ligny and Quatre Bras (DVD). The first of four DVDs looking at the Waterloo campaign, this DVD looks at the background to the campaign and the battles of Quatre Bras and Ligny, the first serious fighting of the short campaign. An informative DVD, filmed on the battlefield and presented by a group of historians and expert battlefield guides [read full review] cover
Waterloo: Hanoverian Correspondence One, John Franklin. The first of two volumes of primary sources relating to the Hanoverian contingent in the Allied army at Waterloo. This volume focuses on handwritten sources, many contained in the archives at Hanover. A very useful research tool for anyone studying the battle of Waterloo. [read full review]
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Wellington at Waterloo, Jac Weller. Takes a different approach to the Battle of Waterloo, looking from the fighting from Wellington's point of view, seeing how he responded to the information at his disposal rather than taking the more usual overview approach. This approach gives us a clearer picture of Wellington's handling of the battle, and helps us see why he made the decisions he did. [read full review]
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Waterloo: Netherlands Correspondence, ed John Franklin. A valuable collection of previously unprinted documents relating to the Netherlands army during the Waterloo campaign, shedding light on this often neglected part of the Allied army - the second biggest contingent after the British, and effectively a separate army under the command of the Prince of Orange. [read full review]
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cover Waterloo 1815 , Geoffrey Wooten, A good introduction to one of the most important battles of European history. Well illustrated but lacking the depth of some of the studies on the market, a starting point for those interested. Lacks a section on wargamming the battle.
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Biographies

A Waterloo Hero: The Reminiscences of Friedrich Lindau, ed. James Bogle and Andrew Uffindell. A rare example of a memoir written by a private soldier in Wellington's army, in this case a skirmisher in the King's German Legion who fought in the last few years of the Peninsular War and at Waterloo, where he was involved in the fighting at La Haye Sainte. A valuable insight into the daily life and preoccupations of one of Wellington's men. [read full review]
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Napoleon's Commanders 2Napoleon's Commanders: Vol 2, Philip Haythornthwaite. The second volume of this set covers the last six years of the Napoleoninc Wars, from 1809 until the final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo and focuses on those commanders who became famous during this period. [SEE MORE]
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Napoleon's Commanders 1Napoleon's Commanders: Vol 1, Philip Haythornthwaite. Despite the emphasis on Napoleon, the scale of the Napoleonic Wars meant that his Marshals played a significant role in the early French successes. This volume covers the careers of the most important French commanders up till the Austrian campaign of 1809. [SEE MORE]
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Wellington's Generals, Michael Barthorp. This is a typical short Osprey at 48 pages which serves as an excellent introduction to some of the characters who served as generals to Wellington during the Peninsular War and the brief campaign in France. It covers (briefly) eleven of the British officers including Picton and ‘Daddy’ Hill with a brief section on Wellington’s staff system. As usual it is well illustrated with 8 full colour plates each one showing a famous general and some staff.
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Napoleon's Marshals

Napoleon's Marshals, Emir Bukhari. A good book but starting to look a bit dated now although the information is accurate and it is nicely illustrated with colour pictures of all the famous marshals in uniform.

Includes a brief service record of all of the main Marshals but is lacking on any great detail [SEE MORE]

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Sgt. William Laurence

cover A Dorset Rifleman: The Autobiography of Sgt. Williams Lawrence 1790-1869 , edited by Eileen Hathaway forward by Bernard Cornwell. An excellent book with updated information from the Hardback edition gives a real flavour of the Napoleonic Wars
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Napoleon

Decline and Fall of Napoleon's Empire - How the Emperor Self-Destructed, Digby Smith . An interesting examination of everything the author believes Napoleon did wrong, painting a picture of a despot who failed to adapt his working methods to the increased scale of warfare from 1809 onwards. Does a useful job of bringing together all of the flaws in Napoleon's systems and his campaigns in one place. [read full review]
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Fallen Eagle: How the Royal Navy Captured Napoleon, Norman MacKenzie. A fascinating book that looks at the crucial period between the battle of Waterloo and Napoleon going into exile on St. Helena, giving an insight into the political manoeuvring in Paris that led to Napoleon's second fall from power and the concerns of the British naval officers to whom he surrendered. [read full review]
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The Rise and Fall of Napoleon: Rise , Robert Asprey, Abacus, 2001, 608 pages. The first of a two volumn biography, this book takes Napoleon from his birth on Corsica, through the turbulant years of the revolution and to the brink of his great victory at Austerlitz.
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The Rise and Fall of Napoleon: Fall (UK)/ The Reign of Napoleon (US & Canada), Robert Asprey, Abacus, 2002, 512 pages. Continues the story of Napoleon from his great victory at Austerlitz through to eventual defeat and exile. Asprey's great strength is his study of Napoleon as a general. These two books give a great overview of the life of one of the most important men in history.
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Wellington

Wellington: A Military Life, Gordon Corrigan. This in an excellent military biography of the Duke of Wellington. It focuses very heavily on Wellington the general, allows Corrigan to describe the wider campaigns in some detail, giving a good idea not only of what Wellington did, but also why he did it. [see more]
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Films and Television

Sharpe - The Complete Series , the definative collection of this excellent series which if not always totally historically accurate does give a great feel of the atmosphere of the Napoleonic wars in Spain. The series follows the rising career of Richard Sharpe and his trusty men as Sharpe is promoted from the ranks to rise to high position making friends and enemies and fighting battles along the way.
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