Best napoleonic war history books according to redditors

We found 21 Reddit comments discussing the best napoleonic war history books. We ranked the 15 resulting products by number of redditors who mentioned them. Here are the top 20.

Next page

Top Reddit comments about Napoleonic War History:

u/Pm_me_hot_sauce_pics · 266 pointsr/politics

Did you know they invaded Russia In the winter? Bigly cold. Bad move.

Edit: I am actually reading this (not a definitive history but has interesting maps of the battles) i just thought it was funny that Trump made those comments about [Russia] ( Stay educated people our fake president sure is not.

u/flyscan · 28 pointsr/JordanPeterson


I would like to recommend you a book Napoleon the Great. The audio book edition is also really well read.

One of my personal observations from this book was regarding Napoleon's rise following the revolution.

Napoleon was Italian and his father was a minor court administrator in Corsica. At that time Italy was not yet a nation state, just a collect of city states and in order to sure up political influence, all Corsican nobility where allowed to claim admittance to the French court. Napoleon's father saw an opportunity and sent his young son to the French military school.

Fast forward a couple of years and Napoleon is now an officer in the French army. He was very well read and had written a couple of minor essays in support of the revolution. With the majority of the officers coming from French nobility, many fled (or were executed) as the revolution heated up. Napoleon was one of the few people with officer training and experience but was outside of the traditional French aristocracy and could be trusted as a revolutionary. Napoleon was a singlely talented individual, but without the circumstances of his origin, such talent may never have seen the light.

With Napoleon's personal story on your mind (as well as JP's comments about how powerful the ability to write makes you) I would like you to re-consider your stance on the Jews.

The Jews maintained their unique culture and literary traditions while literacy was lacking in the general population. Despite their high level of education they were often excluded from society due to their religious differences. Because of their education (and freedom from leading restrictions) they were often wealthy, and that wealth plus cultural exclusion would often lead to persecution.

It is easy to hypothesis that this tradition of both high education and social exclusion would put them in the perfect position if there was ever some large scale social unrest. Like Napoleon, once the educated ruling class fled (or were killed) they would be the only ones with the skills to lead. Secondly, as they had been ostracised by the ruling classes, it is only natural that they would foment revolutionary thinkers and be trusted by the masses.

There is no Jewish conspiracy. They didn't plot and they certainly didn't benefit from it. Rather, just as Napoleon was an educated individual in rare position to make use of his education, so too certain Jewish individuals, who benefited from their cultural heritage, were in a position to take advantage of the situation of large social change.

u/eighthgear · 11 pointsr/AskHistorians

There is a certain arrogance that many people have when it comes to dealing with the military history of this era - it is common to assume that line tactics simply grew out of stupidity or an attachment to honor, but this simply isn't the case. Commanders viewed line infantry as an effective tactic because it was an effective tactic, and it proved its effectiveness in many battles. Quite simply, these tactics produced real-world results. Line formation was a very tactically sound formation, given the weapons of the era. It was also not the only tactic used by European armies, contrary to popular belief.

The main weapon of the era for infantry was the musket. Muskets are muzzle-loading, smoothbore firearms, that are neither quick to load (compared with the guns that would supersede them) nor accurate. They are, however, very deadly (armour generally won't stop a musket ball), fairly cheap, and fairly easy to operate. To create good line infantry you do need to have men that are very well-drilled, so the idea that muskets supplanted other ranged weapons simply because anyone could use them is an idea that is a bit exaggerated (many European leaders before the French Revolution didn't exactly enjoy arming the peasantry anyways), but muskets simply don't require the sheer physical strength needed to, say, pull a bow. So it is easy to see why muskets became such a dominant weapon on European battlefields.

If you are going to use muskets for your army, the best way to deliver large amounts of fire upon your enemy is to have your men line up in shallow lines, level their muskets, and fire. The idea was not to politely trade shots with the enemy, but rather, to deliver as much fire as was possible. Drills of the day emphasized rate of fire above accuracy - You leveled your gun, fired, reloaded as fast as possible, and fired again, though the precise pattern in which this takes place was dictated by the particular type of drill. Well-drilled infantry could lay down highly impressive rates of fire, even given the technical limitations of muzzle-loading muskets. The culmination of these engagements was often the bayonet charge - these charges often resulted in the side being charged simply breaking, providing that their morale was sufficiently low.

Line formations were not the only sort of arrangement used by infantry. With enough numerical superiority, or if the enemy is suspect of having weak morale, an army could just charge the enemy off the bat. This tactic certainly worked well for French armies during the wars of the Revolution - it allowed them to defeat better-trained and better-equipped enemy armies that used line formation. This tactic was heavily dependent on both numbers (the French, who created the first modern system of conscription, could raise huge armies and replace vast losses more easily than their rivals could) and morale, however. /u/elos_ did a great write-up on French tactics during the Revolution a few months ago. Charges were conducted in columns, rather than lines. Even for the French, though, these charges were not some perfect tactic, and as the French Army improved post-revolution, French generals used a more balanced mix of column charges, line fire, skirmishing, and the use of artillery.

Besides lines and columns, the aforementioned skirmishing was another other way to use infantry. Skirmishing meant dispersing your men, so that there was some distance between each soldier, and engaging the enemy in ways besides simply standing in front of them and shooting (though they could do that as well). However, skirmishers are very vulnerable to cavalry. It is also difficult to coordinate - battles are by their very nature chaotic, and when you add in the large quantities of smoke that is generated by weapons that use gunpowder, things can become very hard to coordinate. Skirmishing was still used, and it proved to be very valuable on many occasions. Skirmishers could harass the enemy, create disorder, deal with enemy skirmishers, et cetera. Certain types of terrain would make skirmishing very effective. The French were very fond of skirmishers, and they made up a big part of Napoleon's armies. Line infantrymen were trained to skirmish, and skirmishers were trained to fight in lines. One wasn't inherently better or worse than the other, it was all situational.

Note: some skirmishers used rifled muskets, but most (at least during the Napoleonic era) used regular smoothbore muskets. There was a recent kerfuffle in this sub about skirmishing with muskets, which was summed up by /u/elos_ in /r/badhistory.

Line formation emerged as a very natural way to utilize muskets, and it disappeared when smoothbore muskets were replaced with better firearms. As all of this indicate, though, line formation was not the only formation used, and battles were not just affairs in which two sides shot at each other face-to-face until one side was mostly dead. Good generals coordinated different sorts of infantry, cavalry, and artillery in order to achieve victory - these men were certainly not idiots.

I really like the book Napoleonic Infantry by Philip J. Haythornthwaite, which can be found pretty inexpensively on Amazon.

u/mattshill · 7 pointsr/ireland

There were 25 Irish regiments and a further 4 if you include the Irish Disporosa ones like the Liverpool or Newcastle Irish regiments, the majority of these were predominantly composed of Irish Catholics to quote Wellington in a speech to the house of commons after Waterloo " It is mainly to the Irish Catholic that we [the British] owe our pre-eminence in our military career.". The military was a good means of stable long term gainful employment and many poor people across the Ireland and Britain joined in disproportionately large numbers, even after independence 50,000 Irish soldiers fight for Britain in WWII which was more than the 40,000 from NI.

As I've also pointed out the CO issue, thats simply a load of bollocks the test act that barred them went practically unenforced before being officially repealed in 1778 and leading to riots in Scotland as people were appalled at the thought of a catholic commands.

As you seem to be adverse to edits I should say EDIT: If you actually want to learnt about the Irish involment in the British army during the Napoleonic wars specifically may I recommend

or if you would prefer scholarly articles Chappell, Mike (2003). Wellington's Peninsula Regiments (1): The Irish.

u/bastocrat · 5 pointsr/AskHistorians

Can't find any peer-reviewed articles at the moment, but this is a breakdown of types of trauma that British military surgeons dealt with during the napoleonic wars, according to M.Crumplins "Men of Steel: Surgery in the Napoleonic Wars ":

62,0% : Musket-, Rifle-, Pistol Bullets

13,5% : Sword, Saber

8,0% : Projectiles

5,0% : "Canister"-Artillery

4,0% : "Common shell"-Artillery

3,9% : Lances, Pikes

1,2% : Bayonet

1,1% : Other Trauma (z.B. Falling, Burns)

0,7% : Ramrods

0,5% : Knives

At least as far as bayonet wounds are concerned, this seems to be very similar to your numbers from the American civil war. A caveat is of course, that the british did a disproportionate amount of naval fighting, so this might have skewed the numbers somewhat.

EDIT: Spelling, grammar.

u/jayseedub · 5 pointsr/nba

But...the Russians had almost 900,000 troops by August (Riehn p50).

u/iAmJimmyHoffa · 5 pointsr/AskHistorians

Tolstoy, to put it mildly, equated Kutuzov as a complete hero as well as an equal to Napoleon as a tactician and a general. In reality, he was nowhere near Napoleon's skill and record on the battlefield, but he was still quite a skilled and charismatic commander nonetheless.

He proved himself as a pretty able commander in the Russo-Turkish War from 1806 to 1812, where he helped to encircle and destroy the Ottoman Army at the battle of the Danube. It was for this reason that the public of Russia demanded that he take command of the main Russian Army (1st and 2nd Armies) that were soon to face Napoleon, as a replacement to the highly unpopular (but still capable nonetheless) Barclay de Tolly, who insisted on retreating and preserving his army over fighting the French for key cities like Smolensk and Moscow (the former of which lost him his remaining credibility among his staff and army). Alexander I, Czar at the time, placed Kutuzov in command knowing that, should the general fail in battle against Napoleon, he would have been the choice of the people, and not the monarch, leaving him free reign to choose a new commander without blame being placed on him for the defeat.

In short, he was definitely a skilled general and was a very charismatic leader, despite his age, but he is sometimes falsely described as a "superior" to Napoleon. Even for his age, Kutuzov proved himself as one of Russia's best generals at Borodino. Despite losing the fight in the end, and suffering over 40,000 casualties, he kept his army together and managed to inflict a severe amount of casualties on the French by utilizing the pride the Russian soldiers had for making a stand and defending Moscow (which Napoleon could not draw upon, as his force was a mix of French, Dutch, German, Polish, and Italian soldiers), as well as ordering the Raevsky Redoubt and the Bagration fleches to be constructed which, despite being of poor quality, definitely made an effect during the battle.

If you want to read about the prelude to the invasion of Russia, including the battle of Borodino, the fall of Moscow, Napoleon's retreat, and all the way down the line two years later to Leipzig and the fall of Napoleon, read Russia Against Napoleon by Prof. Dominic Lieven, which is a very good read and source for the war.

EDIT: Also, to answer your last question, I believe he was. Bagration, though even more charismatic and inspiring than Kutuzov, did not have the record to back himself up, and likely would not have performed well as commander of the 1st and 2nd Armies (the 1st Army originally being under de Tolly, the 2nd under Bagration), despite his later sacrificial but effective command of the Russian left at Borodino. When de Tolly assumed overall command of the two armies after they both combined shortly after Napoleon's invasion began, as well as personal command of the first, he shared beliefs with Alexander I that the Russian Army had to avoid battle at all costs, and would draw Napoleon's supply and communication lines extremely thin. When he offered what most at the time considered a "half-assed" fight (for lack of a better term, sorry) at Smolensk, Alexander chose to relieve de Tolly and replace him with Kutuzov to avoid public embarrassment for himself (Later, at Borodino, de Tolly would command the Russian right flank and led from the front by inspiring his men to fight on, and he would later be vindicated by the Czar and the people).

Russia definitely had skilled generals in 1812, but for command of the entire army, there was no better choice than Kutuzov.

u/meathorse1 · 4 pointsr/todayilearned

"Napoleon: A Life" and "Napoleon the Great" are the same book. The US release has a different name for some reason. This should help with price shopping. Life is a cheaper hardcover. Great is a cheaper paperback.

u/Nagsheadlocal · 4 pointsr/history

If you haven't yet read John Keegan's The Face of Battle you should add it to your list. The Somme is one of the battles he examines and motivation is one of his subjects.

u/DonaldFDraper · 4 pointsr/AskHistorians

What you have provided is a picture of a Hussar. Now a Hussar is a specific type of light cavalry that is used to mop up stragglers in battle, scout for armies/corps, and seduce women (as a Hussar was seen as highly attractive). The jacket hung over the shoulder is called a Pelisse and only worn by a Hussar. At the time of the Napoleonic Wars, every nation had Hussars but they were limited to a few regiments as there were other types of cavalry units.[^[1]]( "Uniforms of the Napoleonic Wars" by Digby Smith (2006)")

Most likely, the film production team might have used Hussar uniforms to make the cavalry pop out more than a standard Dragoon.

u/BeondTheGrave · 3 pointsr/AskHistorians

The best book, far and away, is Russell Weigley's The Age of Battles. Weigley explores the evolution of modern military strategy from its roots in the 30 Years War to the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. He does exactly what your question asks, tells you how generals planned and fought battles from the 1630s to 1815, as well as telling you a bit about pretty much every major war and battle between. Plus, he also ties in the evolution of naval strategy, such that it was, into his narrative.

I cannot recommend this book enough, as it is exactly what I think youre looking for.

u/TheDuglyFuckling · 3 pointsr/WarCollege

I read this book a while back and, while it's not particularly a thorough study of the Napoleonic Wars nor long, it's rather dense and a really fun read. There are tons of strategic and tactical maps scattered throughout. I don't know you level of understanding of the Napoleonic wars nor what you're looking for in a book but this is more of a comprehensive introduction than a deep study.

u/CSSCoder · 2 pointsr/history

I'm a casual history reader, not a historian but i found Andrew Roberts book on Napoleon really interesting also gonna recommend Zeno the perils of power in 5th centuary Constantinople

Currently gathering books about Metternich for a video, ill post the best books here, though some are out of print

u/Bruin116 · 1 pointr/IWantToLearn

In terms of strategic aspects, this book is incredible.

u/Smoked_Peasant · 1 pointr/history

I thought Nelson's Navy Was a pretty decent read. Has chapters on just about everything.

u/Heinemenusch · 1 pointr/wargames

The Waterloo Companion. Lots of in-depth and structured history with lots of colour plates of uniforms. It sounds like what you are looking for.

For just the French uniforms I would recommend "Les Uniformes de l'Armee Francaise de 1660 a 1845" by Charles Vernier and Colonel Paul Willing. Covers a greater period than you want but the plates of uniforms are fantastic (and much better value for money than the Osprey Men-At-Arms series which I think are rather over priced).