After the Terror...
November 25, 2007 3:26 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend any great, scholarly books about the Napoleonic era in Europe?

I'm in the middle of reading Richard K. Riehn's 1812: Napoleon's Russian Campaign and really enjoying it. However, I want to learn more. I'm interested in hearing your book recommendations that deal with Napoleonic Europe from a more general perspective - art, politics, culture, etc. I'd love to hear what you come up with.
posted by Neilopolis to Education (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Steven Englund's Napoleon would be a good starting point. Good for politics at least.
posted by baggymp at 3:38 PM on November 25, 2007

Not scholarly, but I sure wish I had read the Sharpe series of novels when I was studying Napolean back in university, as well as Patrick O'Brian's Aubreyad.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:48 PM on November 25, 2007

The Age of Napoleon, by Will Durant. It actually covers the French Revolution as well.

Superb book, written by one of the top historians of the Twentieth Century.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 4:08 PM on November 25, 2007

Adam Schom and Frank McLynn have written well-regarded recent biographies. You may find useful suggestions at this site (reference book section). Here's a comparative discussion. Here are some descriptions of recent books.

Will Durant was not a professional historian, he was a philosopher by training, and the books he and his wife Ariel wrote (together) were popularizations that have been enjoyed for many years now but did not pretend to be cutting-edge even when they were written and are now badly outdated.
posted by languagehat at 5:42 PM on November 25, 2007

Best answer: Peter Geyl's Napoleon, For and Against is a brillant work allegedly written in Buchenwald while a hostage of the Nazis in the Second World War. It E.would be on the reading list in any graduate school seminar on the topic.

E.J. Hobsbawm's the Age of Revolution: Europe 1789-1848 is a left-wing history of Europe as a whole. France dominated the period, and fills much of the book. I can personally recommend this one.

If you have more specific areas I can give you more via email.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:10 PM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ironmouth, if you know of any books that deal specifically with Napoleon's last years as emperor (1812 to St. Helena), that'd be a nice bonus.
posted by Neilopolis at 6:28 PM on November 25, 2007

Not a book, but the History According to Bob podcast is amazing, and he's a Napoleon nut.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:59 PM on November 25, 2007

Best answer: David Chandler's Campaigns of Napoleon is probably the standard work in english for military matters. Long, but fluid.

Paul Johnson did a short damnation of the man in his Napoleon. Contentious, as his stuff tends to be, and absolutely not to be read alone, but it goes down smoothly.

Finally, for an unexpected view from the other side, check out Napoleon In Egypt: Al-jabarti's Chronicle Of The French Occupation, 1798.

(Napoleon's Egyptian campaign was pretty much a fiasco militarily, but it sparked an entire fashion in Europe and gave birth to the modern field of Egyptology. Nina Burleigh is coming out with a book on his scientific team - think Rosetta Stone- and it looks to be interesting)

Point of order - private emails do nothing for the rest of us. Just saying.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:03 AM on November 26, 2007

It is a section of a larger work, but Francois Furet's great Revolutionary France 1770-1880 has a good section on Napoleon. Definitely worth checking out from the library. An amazing book and will provide you with more background should you want it.
posted by fidelity at 7:18 AM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

As far as primary sources covering last years of Napoleon's life, I found IN NAPOLEON'S SHADOW: THE MEMOIRS OF JEAN-LOUIS MARCHAND, VALET AND FRIEND OF THE EMPEROR 1811-1821 to be an interesting read. It is now out of print, but I am sure you can get it through interlibrary loan...

It's a huge volume, but I found the descriptions of Napoleon's day to day life on St. Helena fascinating...
posted by cinemafiend at 10:58 AM on November 26, 2007

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