It's that time of year again, so we at the Fondation Napoléon have put together a selection of some of the best Napoleonic books we've come across this year. Most are recent publications, and from biographies of battles to biographies of Bonapartes, from sweeping historical novels to the secrets of the Emperor himself, there's something for everyone to enjoy this summer…
Carol Berkin, Wondrous Beauty: The Life and Adventures of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte
Here is the remarkable life of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, renowned as the most beautiful woman of nineteenth-century Baltimore, whose marriage in 1803 to Jérôme Bonaparte, Napoleon's youngest brother, became inextricably bound to the diplomatic and political histories of the United States, France, and England. This is a riveting portrait of a woman torn between two worlds: a stunning revelation of an extraordinary age.
Pierre Branda, Les secrets de Napoléon [in French]
The glorious epic life of an obscure second lieutenant who, in just a few years, built an immense Empire could surely interest even the most closed of minds. And yet, despite the many books on the subject, Napoleon remains a multiple enigma. Who was he really? This book reveals the man behind the myth – a man with his own intuitions and contradictions. Flamboyant, secretive, impetuous, paranoid… Pierre Branda shows the multiple facets of Napoleon the man.
Michael Broers, Napoleon: Soldier of Destiny, Volume 1
This is the first volume of Michael Broers' biography of Napoleon. Yes, it's Napoleon's life story. But there are some striking new takes which make it a fascinating read. For Napoleon's public career, as Broers himself proudly notes, this is the first ever to have been written using ‘our' Correspondance générale. As a result, the account is sure and stimulating – get started on this while we wait for Volume 2!
Maria Teresa Caracciolo, Napoleon's Sisters: Three Italian Destinies [in French and English]
This beautifully illustrated exhibition catalogue is also a rich account of three destinies: three women who rose to power in their brother's wake and achieved celebrity first in France then in Italy. This bilingual catalogue presents the great female figures of the Bonaparte family.
NAPOLEONIC MILITARY HISTORY
Jacques-Olivier Boudon, Napoléon et la campagne de France 1814 [in French]
As a result of an astonishing series of victories, Napoleon placed the French Campaign at the heart of the legend of his life. But for the first time, the French people were experiencing at first hand the consequences of war, and they began to dream of peace. The French Campaign was the last episode in the confrontation between Europeans and Revolutionary France, the end of the Empire, and it was to seal the fate of Europe for the next century.
Phillip R. Cuccia, Napoleon in Italy: The Sieges of Mantua, 1796–1799
Unlike other military histories, Napoleon in Italy brings to light the words of soldiers, leaders, and citizens who experienced the sieges firsthand. By placing the sieges of Mantua in an eighteenth-century international context, Cuccia introduces readers to a broader understanding of siege warfare and of how the global impacts the local.
Alexander Mikaberidze, The Burning of Moscow: Napoleon's Trial by Fire 1812
As soon as Napoleon and his Grand Army entered Moscow, the capital erupted in flames that eventually engulfed and destroyed two thirds of the city. For thirty-five days Napoleon stayed, making increasingly desperate efforts to achieve peace with Russia. Then, almost surrounded and with winter fast approaching, he abandoned the capital and embarked on the long, bitter retreat that destroyed his army…
Joe Scicluna, By Order of Napoleon: The Taking of Malta
Napoleon issued thousands of dispatches directives and orders during the many campaigns of his military career. This e-book is a chronological compilation of his orders concerning the taking of Malta in 1798. Scicluna gives the reader access to source documents and provide some perspective to those momentous events that changed the course of Malta's history.
HISTORY IN CLOSE UP
Thierry Lentz, Les vingt jours de Fontainebleau. La première abdication de Napoléon 31 mars-20 avril 1814 [in French]
In his most recent book, Thierry Lentz investigates the complex circumstances of the end of the Empire, from 31 March to the capitulation of Paris, on 20 April, 1814, the day on which the fallen Emperor left for the island of Elba. It turns out that the traditional story, with its heroes and traitors, isn't the whole story after all. Twenty days in French history, twenty days in the history of a man: this is what really happened!
Bruno Colson, Leipzig. La bataille des Nations 16-19 octobre 1813 [in French]
How can you write the story of a battle that took place two hundred years ago? This is precisely the question Bruno Colson answers in this book on the battle of Leipzig. First and foremost, this is an extremely thorough study of the various aspects of the Napoleonic war, but it also considers contemporary research issues, such as the emergence of the concept of a “total war.” This book was awarded the Fondation Napoléon First Empire Prize for 2013.
Russ E. Foster, Wellington and Waterloo: The Duke, The Battle and Posterity 1815-2015
Wellington and Waterloo is the first book to analyse and trace how perceptions of the battle have changed over two hundred years. Waterloo didn't just make nations and history: Waterloo also made a man. Wellington and Waterloo merges two crucial historical disciplines; military history and the historical biography. The end product is a fascinating and necessary restoration of the Duke's reputation as a commander, politician and a man.
Roger Knight, Britain Against Napoleon: The Organization of Victory, 1793–1815
For more than twenty years, the French army was supreme in continental Europe, and the British population lived in fear of French invasion. How was it that Britain survived and won a generation-long war against a regime which at its peak commanded many times Britain's own resources and manpower? The Duke of Wellington famously said that the battle which finally defeated Napoleon was 'the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life': this book shows how true that was for the Napoleonic War as a whole.”
Mark Philp (ed.), Resisting Napoleon: The British Response to the Threat of Invasion, 1797–1815
The long war with Revolutionary France had a fundamental impact on British political culture. This collection measures both the war's impact on Britain and France's domestic political cultures, and its effect on their perceptions of each other…
William Wright, Warriors of the Queen: Fighting Generals of the Victorian Age
Forgotten are many of the generals who commanded the vast and boundless armies of Queen Victoria's British Empire. In Warriors of the Queen, Wright lays bare life profiles of 170 Victorian army generals, bringing to light the good, the bad and the ugly.
THE WAR OF 1812
Steve Benson and Ron Toelke, Waterways of War: The War of 1812
In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, discover the historic events that helped shape a young American nation during its “Second War of Independence.” This beautifully illustrated guidebook includes an overview of the war as a whole, a more detailed look at the war across the Great Lakes, and a focus on the significant events that occurred along the present-day Great Lakes Seaway Trail.
Jerry Roberts, The British Raid on Essex: The Forgotten Battle of the War of 1812
This is the untold story of one of the most destructive maritime actions to take place in Connecticut history: the 1814 British attack on the privateers of Pettipaug, known today as the British Raid on Essex. During the height of the War of 1812, 136 Royal marines and sailors made their way up the Connecticut River and burned twenty-seven American vessels. It was the largest single maritime loss of the war. Until now, this story has been virtually left out of the history books—the forgotten battle of the forgotten war…
Robert P. Watson, America's First Crisis: The War of 1812
The War of 1812, sometimes called “America's forgotten war,” was a curious affair. At the time, it was dismissed as “Mr. Madison's War.” Later it was hailed by some as America's “Second War for Independence” and ridiculed by others, such as President Harry Truman, as “the silliest damned war we ever had.” The conflict, which produced several great heroes and future presidents, was all this and more, and here Watson tells its most intriguing and important stories.
William Dietrich, The Three Emperors: An Ethan Gage Adventure
Adventurer Ethan Gage travels through the darkest and most superstitious realms of eighteenth century Europe, to the castles and caves of Bohemia to rescue his family and uncover a mysterious medieval device rumoured to foretell the future. Dietrich skillfully weaves intrigue and magic, romance and danger in a historical thriller that sprints from the fury of Napoleonic war to the mystic puzzles of Central Europe. What enigmas will the fabled Brazen Head finally reveal?
Shannon Selin, Napoleon in America: A Novel
What if Napoleon Bonaparte had escaped from St. Helena and wound up in the United States in 1821? Selin follows Napoleon in his new land, fretting about his legacy. While the British, French and American governments follow his activities with growing alarm, remnants of the Grande Armée flock to him with growing anticipation. Are Napoleon's intentions as peaceful as he says they are? If not, does he still have the qualities necessary to lead a winning campaign?
Heather Webb, Becoming Josephine: A Novel
A sweeping historical novel about the Creole socialite who transformed herself into an empress. Rose Tascher sails from her Martinique plantation to Paris, eager to enjoy an elegant life at the royal court. Once there, however, Rose's aristocratic soldier-husband dashes her dreams by abandoning her amid the tumult of the French Revolution. After narrowly escaping death, Rose reinvents herself as Josephine, a beautiful socialite wooed by an awkward suitor – Napoleon Bonaparte.
AND ONLINE FROM THE FONDATION NAPOLEON
Napoleon.org is the best place on the web if you want to stay up to date on the latest events, news and articles on Napoleonic history. Articles, texts, commentaries and news items are added on a regular basis, and there are plenty of games, fact files, and visit ideas to keep you occupied over the coming months.
Napoleonica. La Revue
Napoleonica. La Revue, the Fondation Napoléon's academic review, now has eighteen issues' worth of articles, commentaries and reviews, available in English and in French. The review showcases some of the most recent developments in Napoleonic history and historiography and also features thematic special editions (such as one on First Empire music). All articles can be freely consulted online and downloaded via cairn.info.
The Fondation Napoléon Digital Library
Those searching for digital versions of out-of-print or rare old books need look no further. The Fondation Napoléon's Digital Library features not only a wide variety of books digitised in-house (and consultable via a specially-developed reader), but also a huge, fully-searchable reference library of texts available online.
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