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07 Jan 2019 9:27 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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    07 Jan 2019 9:15 p.m. PST

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755 hits since 7 Jan 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

EJNashIII07 Jan 2019 9:15 p.m. PST

Just taking an interest in the period. Is there a recommended grand tome that covers the Republic and Napoleonic period? Something similar to Shelby Foote for the American Civil War?

AussieAndy Supporting Member of TMP07 Jan 2019 10:22 p.m. PST

David Chandler's The Campaigns of Napoleon is certainly a grand tome and worth reading, but, as you would expect, the coverage of campaigns not involving Bonaparte is lacking. There are any number of books covering Napoleon and anything involving the Brits, but the modern English language coverage of other campaigns and battles is often sparse. If I had to suggest one account of a war for you to read, it would be John Gill's Thunder on the Danube on the 1809 campaigns (3 volumes). Gill is a terrific scholar and a joy to read. He also covers all theatres in detail. Good luck.

Richard Brooks Sponsoring Member of TMP07 Jan 2019 10:53 p.m. PST

I thought Owen Connelly's Blundering to Glory, Napoleon's military campaigns a great read from an even better instructor.

langobard Supporting Member of TMP08 Jan 2019 1:01 a.m. PST

I always recommend 3 books, in no particular order:

Swords around a throne
Campaigns of Napoleon
Westpoint Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars

Swords is probably the best starting point in terms of width of covered subject matter, and ease of reading.

Brechtel19808 Jan 2019 3:08 a.m. PST

And the bibliography of Swords, as well as the Recommended Reading List for the Atlas are excellent to continue reading or research. One of the books in the Atlas' List I looked for for over thirty years and finally found a copy. Another I just found the other day.

Great stuff.

And the Atlas' List was updated when it was republished by Greenhill in 1999.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP08 Jan 2019 7:54 a.m. PST

Some great suggests.

For a general feel of the period and to get an introduction to some of the characters on the French side, "Once there were Titans" by Kevin Kiley.

Kevin and I may disagree here on occasions, but I really think is a fine book that ought to be in your library.

von Winterfeldt08 Jan 2019 9:45 a.m. PST

There is none, Chandler covers only the Campaigns of Napoleon and misses out other important theatres of war, Elting covers the French army only and his allies and enemies briefly and often incorrectly.

It would be like looking only at the Army of Virginia.
Both Elting and Chandler are more or less edutainment.

The Republic is only covered partially by Chandler and covering the campaigns were Boney did play a part.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP08 Jan 2019 10:44 a.m. PST

If you want a decent study of the Republic (Wars of 1st and 2nd Coalition), you can't do better than "Armies of the French Republic" by Phipps. Covers all the theaters and not just the campaigns of Napoleon.

The problem is their isn't a similar grand overview of the wars of the Empire.

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP08 Jan 2019 10:51 a.m. PST

For a decent overview of the Revolutionary Wars, you might try Steven Ross' "Quest for Victory." It's fairly high-level, being mostly concerned with strategy, but it's easily digestible (320 pages), and not a bad way to start, given how little is available in English on the wars that didn't feature Napoleon.


Dave Jackson Supporting Member of TMP08 Jan 2019 11:07 a.m. PST

I'd recommend Gunther E Rothenberg's "The art of warfare on the Age of Napoleon" . It starts with a chapter on armies etc of the Ancien Regime, then the Revolution, Napoleon's armies, his opponents, and finally a chapter on staff problems, fortifications and medical services.


Brechtel19808 Jan 2019 3:18 p.m. PST


Thanks very much for the compliment on the book.

I also think that disagreement can lead to new knowledge and information.

And your recommendation of Phipps is right on the money. Well done.

Brechtel19808 Jan 2019 3:22 p.m. PST

Chandler covers only the Campaigns of Napoleon

That's why the title is Campaigns of Napoleon.

Elting covers the French army only and his allies and enemies briefly and often incorrectly.

That's why the subtitle is Napoleon's Grande Armee. And you keep stating that you believe there are mistakes in the chapter on the enemies of the French (Chapter XXV), so why don't you name a few if you can.

By the way, how many books on the period have you written, or any other historical period?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP08 Jan 2019 3:36 p.m. PST

Not a bad recommendation in the lot, but just to throw something else into the mix, take a look at Delderfield's Napoleon's Marshals, AKA The March of the Twenty-six. It's not a "proper" history of the period, but it follows 26 important individuals from the reign of Louis XVI to the restored monarchy with pretty much all the critical events in there somewhere. And it's a quick read for an overview before you start researching march rates and Iberian logistics.

Gazzola10 Jan 2019 3:29 a.m. PST


As welcome as it would be, I think it would take an enormous book to cover both the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods. But Chandler's book is a great place to start in terms of the Napoleonic period. That will give you a general overview and background of the period and various campaigns and battles that took place. From it you can go into various books that concentrate on the different campaigns, such as the 1809 campaigns, covered in such excellent titles as John Gill's trilogy Thunder on the Danube. Other series will cover campaigns such as Napoleon's 1812 Russian campaign. Alexander Mikaberidze's books are recommended for this. Also recommended is George Nafziger's incredibly detailed titles, such as his 1813 trilogy, some of which have recently been republished. And there are masses of titles covering the 1815 campaign, with Tim Clayton's Waterloo being a very enjoyable read. And worth considering are Andrew Field's books covering the 1815 campaign and also Mark Adkin's Waterloo. The more you look, the more you will find and there are great titles out there that just cover single battles such as Austerlitz 1805 etc. And there are countless titles covering the Peninsular War, with David Gates The Spanish Ulcer being a good start, along with Oman's excellent History of the Peninsular War series. You'll never run out of books to read.
It is not so easy to find good books on the revolutionary period. However, Phipps' series, already mentioned, is good and also Tom Blanning's books (eg: The Origins of the French Revolutionary Wars) along with Lynn's The Bayonets of the Republic.
Of course, people have their own opinions on various books and series but you will soon find those you prefer to others. I think you have some really happy and interesting reading to come.

Gazzola11 Jan 2019 5:03 a.m. PST


For the Revolutionary period, I forgot to mention Attack in the West by W.G.F Jackson, which is one of the titles covering Napoleon first Italian campaign. It is an old un, but still a very good read.

Also worth considering is Digby Smith's The Greenhill Napoleonic Wars Data Book. This contains brief info and OOB's on various actions from 1792 to 1815.

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