Napoleon Histories?

Last minute Christmas shopping for my brother. I’ve read nothing on the period so I have little idea of which books on the shelf are worth grabbing. General political or military tomes would interest him but something focused on Bonaparte would be fantastic.

Very much apreciated.

What type, hardcore academic, soft academic, or lightweight stuff?

‘The Campaigns of Napoleon’ by David G Chandler is excellent if you can find a copy.

Funny, but I was just thinking about something like this for a project I’m working on.

I ended up getting Napoleon for Dummies.
It actually sounds pretty kick ass.

Either hardcore or soft academic would do. Factual, readable, but first of all useful.

That looks superb. Probably can’t find it on short notice but I’ll check the local shops. If I can’t get it for Christmas I’ll just buy it for his birthday.

How hefty is it? He’ll want something somewhat scholarly.

Yep. Then Chandler is still “the man” for Napoleonic works. You’ve been given the best material in the business per most military history profs I’ve talked to (and I agree, so that means they’re right :)).

How readable is Chandler’s book? I’m thinking about picking it up for some Christmas break reading. I know it’s massive and the authority on the subject but how dry is it?

I’ve been listening to a series of podcasts, Napoleon 101 made by the guy who wrote Napoleon for Dummies and another guy(can’t remember his name). Really great series, and highly recommended. I think there are 30 or so episodes of about an hour a piece out that detail Napoleon’s life and accomplishments chronologically. Good for someone who knows relatively nothing such as myself.

I think it’s very readable. It’s informative and detailed without being overly academic, the book is well structured and Chandler’s writing is crisp and concise. At around 1200 pages, it’s certainly not light reading and I doubt you’d be able to get through it over the Christmas break but if you’re at all interested in the subject matter I have no hesistation recommending it.

This is good:

reading it now, and entertaining even for the non napoleon battle geek. Plus there is also that classic ‘war and peace’. I made it two thirds of he way through. A very difficult read, but also fascinating.

Chandler is fairly readable and Campaigns is a military history classic. Well recommended.

For something more biopic, I would not suggest Alan Schom’s work. It’s a steaming turd.

— Alan

You could always watch the classic movie instead!

Speaking of which, Ridley Scott’s The Duellists is the best movie about the Napoleonic wars that doesn’t feature either Napoleon or his wars.

Well, it’s written by a scholar.

I think that’s it’s a very solid overview, and the reviews are glowing.

For me it’ll be a chance to become acquainted with an overview of the subject, and figure how far I need to dive in for the subject I’m working on.

Thats entirely fair. Point taken.

I ended up getting my brother the Chandler. I was very impressed with the number and quality of the maps, charts, and diagrams. For that alone is was worth it. The writing was also compelling.

He was more than pleased. Thank you for the help.

Sounds like where I’ll be heading next once I’ve digested it.

Thanks for asking the question btw. It got me off my ass and into the research.

Glad he liked it. You’re very welcome.

The maps are one of the nice assets to the book; unfortunately a few of the battles use only period maps which can be hard to read and decipher, and serves as a startling contrast to most of the battles with the “modern” maps. However, that being said, the multi-chronology two-color maps can be nicely detailed and much better than previous works and most current ones (and the foldout of Nelson’s pursuit of the French fleet leading up to the Battle of the Nile is one of the most shamelessly copied maps I’ve ever seen).

— Alan