Napoleon part 2 readings and viewings


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annotated list of websites, DVDs and readings for this fall's class at Mt St Joseph's LifeLearn.
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Napoleon part 2 readings and viewings

  1. 1. Napoleon, Part 2 Guide for Viewing, Reading & Surfing General DVDsNapoleon PBS 4 hrs (2000) (N) When I started watching this I almost gave uppreparing the class. Who could compete with this? Golden-throated David McCullough, astable of French and Anglo expert talking heads, all having spent their careers studyingthe Emperor. Including Col John Elting, who wrote the West Point Atlas I’ve used foryour maps. And the visuals! The production values. Enjoy!Napoleon: The Myth, The Battles, The Legend: 2 Disks 2 hrs 25 mineach (2001) (N) Another overview. Minimal reenactments. Many British “talkingheads” with varying viewpoints from critical to adulatory. Gets “down in the weeds.” Butworthwhile for the provocative thoughts expressed.Napoleon’s Final Battle 1 hr 28 min 2006 (N) Despite the title, this NationalGeographic presentation is a succinct view of his entire career. It focuses on the HundredDays of 1815 but used flashbacks to tell his entire career. If an hour and a half is all youwant to invest, you can’t do better. Well shot costumed re-enactments of the key events.Minimal “talking heads,” but well done. A few carping points, but, really, not bad.Melodramatic and “over the top,” but so was its subject!Napoleon 3 Disks (2002) (N)An A&E production staring Christian Clavier as a very convincing Bonaparte, IsabellaRosselini as an even more convincing Joséphine, John Malkovich as a slimy Talleyrandand Gerard Depardieu as Fouché. Directed by a French Canadian, Yves SImoneau.Really nice 3 DVD box set for $12 online. The first two discs contain the 4 episodes,with disc 3 the bonus material.Napoleon : disc 3. (Bonus materials) 2 hrs 40 min (2002) (N)The Napoleon and Wellington episode (1 hr 36 min) is an excellent biography of thesetwo opponents, both born in 1769! A really fine intro to Napoleon’s career. It culminatesin an excellent analysis of Waterloo.
  2. 2. 2 BooksThis bibliography makes no claim of being based on a full survey of the availableresources. There are as many published works on the man and his era as there are onLincoln and the Civil War! If a number in parentheses follows a book information entry,it refers to the number of copies at the public library.Asprey, Robert. The Reign of Napoleon Bonaparte. Basic Books, 2001 (2)A more popular work by a retired U S Marine veteran of two wars who has publishedaccounts of other military eras as well. He takes the story from the peak of Napoleon’spower following the victory at Austerlitz. He also has authored a “prequel” The Rise ofNapoleon Bonaparte.Bruce, Robert, Iain Dickie, Kevin Kiley et al., eds. Fighting Techniquesof the Napoleonic Age; 1792-1815. 2008 at abe for about $8-9, newIn this thematically-organized, thoroughly-illustrated reference text, five expert authorsdescribe the fighting techniques used at the height of Napoleon Bonaparte`s empire. Thebook explores the tactics and strategy required to win battles and describes how thedrastic changes in weapons technology and military systems altered the face of thebattlefield permanently. Using specially-commissioned color and black and whiteartworks to illustrate the battles, equipment and tactics of the era, Fighting Techniques ofthe Napoleonic Age shows in detail how the battles that would define Europe for years tocome were fought and won. In this thematically-organized, thoroughly-illustratedreference text, five expert authors describe the fighting tactics, equipment and techniquesused at the height of Napoleon Bonaparte`s empire as well as the developments inweapons technology and changes in military systems. The book shows in detail how thebattles that would define Europe for years to come were fought and won.Table of Contents:The Role of Infantry; Mounted Warfare; Command and Control;Artillery and Siege Warfare; Naval Warfare;Select Bibliography;IndexChandler, David G. The Campaigns of Napoleon. 1966 (3) also at abe for$40 and upThe Campaigns of Napoleon is an exhaustive analysis and critique of Napoleon’s art ofwar as he himself developed and perfected it in the major military campaigns of hiscareer.Austerlitz, Jena, Fried-land – we see Napoleon’s star reaching its zenith. Then, in theWagram Campaign of 1809 against the Austrians – his last real success – the great mancommits more errors of judgment than in all his previous wars and battles put together.As the campaigns rage on, his declining powers seem to justify his own statement: “Onehas but a short time for war.” Then the horrors of the Russian campaign forever shatter
  3. 3. 3the image of Napoleonic invincibility. It is thereafter a short, though heroic andsanguinary, road to Waterloo and St. Helena. “The flight of the eagle was over; the ‘ogre’ was safely caged at last, and an exhaustedEurope settled down once more to attempt a return to former ways of life andgovernment. But the shade of Napoleon lingered on irresistibly for many years after hisdeath in 1821. It lingers yet.”—review in The Boston GlobeElting, John. Swords around the Throne. 1988 (2)This authoritative, comprehensive, and enthralling book describes and analyzesNapoleons most powerful weapon -- the Grande Armée, which at its peak numbered overa million soldiers. Elting examines every facet of this incredibly complex humanmachine: its organization, command system, logistics, weapons, tactics, discipline,recreation, mobile hospitals, camp followers, and more. From the army’s formation out ofthe turmoil of Revolutionary France through its swift conquests of vast territories acrossEurope to its legendary death at Waterloo, this book uses excerpts from soldiers’ letters,eyewitness accounts, and numerous firsthand details to place the reader in the boots ofNapoleon’s conscripts and generals. In Elting’s masterful hands the experience is trulyunforgettable.Esposito, B Gen. Vincent J. and Col. John Elting. A Military History andAtlas of the Napoleonic Wars. NY: Praeger, 1964 at abe $52-hundreds ofdollars for near new condition (2-main library has 2 copies of anabridged version (70) plates vs 169 in the original, but they do notcirculate)You will recognize this as the source of so many of the maps and commentary in ourpresentations. I list this only as a source for the “hard core” students of Napoleon’scampaigns. I’m glad I got my copy in 1964 from the History Book Club for $19.95. Onein mint condition now sells for > $200.The Osprey series: Freemont-Barnes. Napoleon Bonaparte; Leadership •Strategy • Conflict. 2010 at abe $10 &c.This would be my choice for a “textbook” if you’re interested in getting a single volume(64 pp.). There are probably more related titles on Napoleonic warfare in this excellentpublishing house than any other military period. You could go broke (and I probablywill) trying to get them all. My strategy is to buy them second hand through website. Saves about 20-30% off new. Osprey’s website lists thespecialized titles such as French Napoleonic Infantry Tactics 1792-1815. A very enthusiastic (biased) biography isavailable at this site along with many other resources.
  4. 4. 4www. The website of the Fondation Napoléon. It can beviewed in either French or English. A great many resources. Many differenttypes of media. One example: a 4 minute video of N’s coronation asemperor employing period art and computer graphics @ This site contains a plethoraof transcribed classics from the 19th and 20th century literature of theNapoleonic Wars. I particularly recommend the memoirs of Rev. WilliamLeeke, The History of Lord Seaton’s Regiment; The 52nd Light Infantry atWaterloo. 1866 Session i-ApogeeNapoleon : vol 2. 3 hrs 1 min 2002 (N)This 3rd episode of the A&E series begins with the aftermath of the battle of Eylau andtakes events up to the fire in Moscow, 1807-1812. It develops his affair with PolishCountess Marie Walewska. A nice recreation of the meeting with Alexander at Tilsit.Back in Paris, family troubles. Spain, 1808, spot on portrayal of the useless Spanishmonarchs, the grim guerilla warfare. The battle of Essling, also grim. Joséphine put asidefor Marie Louise of Austria, the birth of l’Aiglon (Napoleon II), a very cursory invasionof Russia. Beautiful interiors and good military re-enactments. Session ii-Spain excellent website by Andrew C. Jackson not only gives excellent historical detailsbut also contains photos of remaining structures and terrain plus directions for the would-be battlefield and museum tourist. Most informative about the Spanish Ulcer whichbegan Bonaparte’s downfall.Napoleon : vol 2. 3 hrs 1 min 2002 (N)This 3rd episode contains a segment Spain, 1808, spot on portrayal of the useless Spanishmonarchs, the grim guerilla warfare.
  5. 5. 5 Session This site by Andrew C. Jacksoncontains many fine maps and descriptions of battles. I have used both histext and maps with permission. I know of no better or more up-to-datewebsite on this topic.Reid, Stuart. Wellington’s Army in the Peninsula. Osprey, 2004 (2)Napoleon: The Myth, The Battles, The Legend: Disk 2 2 hrs 25min (2001) (N) This disk includes an episode “The Spanish Ulcer” “Russia,” and“Waterloo” Summary narratives plus useful commentary from different viewpoints.Cornwell, Bernard. Sharpe’s Eagle. &c (I haven’t checked the librarysince I bought these as paperbacks. I’m guessing that there are manycopies) A great series of historical fiction novels set in the Napoleonic era. Dickie Sharpe, a“James Bond” type hero from the lowest class, rises to the top of the British Army bysheer courage and ability. He is accompanied by a faithful side-kick, Sergeant PatrickHarper, an Irish Catholic. The novels provide remarkable historical information in the“sugar coated’ form of page-turning adventure stories. His description of battles, hereTalavera, is positively Homeric. Each book ends with a Historical Note that points outfact from fiction. Also BBC has made a nice, if somewhat cheesy, series, staring SeanBean as a very believable Sharpe. Cornwell has written fine historical fiction in manyother periods. I eagerly await his latest releases, currently in Anglo-Saxon times ca. 780s.Sharpe’s Escape describes the battle of Bussaco and the Lines of Torres Vedras.Longford, Elizabeth. Wellington; The Years of the Sword. Harper &Row, 1969. (6)This biography by Lady Longford is considered the standard work on this larger-than-lifefigure. She covers his life from birth into the Anglo-Irish aristocracy in 1769 (3 monthsbefore Napoleon) to its pinnacle, at age 46, at Waterloo. His post-1815 career is traced ina companion volume, Wellington; Pillar of State.Paget, Julian. Wellington’s Peninsular War; Battles and Battlefields. LeoCooper London, 1990. (1)A highly readable account that stresses the similarity between the Napoleonic Wars andWorld War II. His first chapter gives a brief overview of the whole Peninsular War andits place in the Napoleonic Wars. Next, he describes the war, year by year. Only thendoes he devote 27 chapters to each major campaign or battle which he chooses toexamine in detail. This unusual plan of organization makes the whole war quite clear. Iwish I had read it first rather than last! Probably the best diagrams of any of the books
  6. 6. 6reviewed here. Also excellent photographs. Like Robertson’s, below, he describes how totour the battlefield today. The author’s ancestors fought with Wellington, he fought in theColdstream Guards in WW II. I can’t recommend this book too highly. If you read onlyone, this is it.Robertson, Ian C. Wellington at War in the Peninsula; 1808-1814 AnOverview and Guide. Pen and Sword :Barnsley, South Yorkshire, 2000.(1)Excellent glossary & timeline, detailed examination for the period of Wellington’scommand. The author has long residence in Spain and familiarity with the geography andthe battle sites to illuminate his study of the sources. The book is illustrated with manyphotographs and maps, both contemporary and from the period. The pictures of therugged terrain and ancient stone bridges really make clear the difficulty faced by armiestrying to move men and supplies across these mountains and rivers. Extensive quotesfrom primary sources make the accounts vivid. I especially appreciated those from LordWellington. They really help you appreciate his humanity. If you want more depth on anyof the campaigns and battles we review in class, it’s all here!Simmons, Maj. George. A British Rifle Man; The Journal of …, Duringthe Peninsular War and the Campaign of Waterloo. London; A & CBlack, 1899. (1)This most literate and interesting account gives a rich picture of the officer’s experienceof this era. An example of his prose from his journal will suffice: “We jumped through agap in the hedge at the same moment that a Portuguese Grenadier, who was following ,received a cannon shot through his body and came tumbling after us. Very likely duringthe day a person might have a thousand much narrow escapes of being made acquaintedwith the grand secret, but seeing the mangled body of a brave fellow so shockinglymutilated in an instant, stamps such impressions upon one’s mind in a manner that timecan never efface.” Session iv-RussiaNapoleon : vol 2. 3 hrs 1 min 2002 (N)This 3rd episode ends with a very cursory invasion of Russia. The 4th carries the Russianstory forward to its dreadful conclusion. The snowy retreat is convincingly filmed inCanada. panorama painting of the battle at its height by Franz Roubaud. There is adetailed commentary on each of nine panels. Your instructor saw this cyclorama at theBorodino museum on the outskirts of Moscow in 1972. This 19th century technique ofpainting “in-the-round,” intended to be viewed from a central point, was the forerunner ofour Cinerama and Imax techniques. Sadly, few remain. Another is the famous Gettysburgcyclorama, discovered in a barn and lovingly restored.
  7. 7. 71812: The Battle of Borodino 55 min 1999 (N)Another in the series. The film footage is from Sergei Bondarchuk’s 1965-67, War andPeace, described above. Another military historian, John Tincey, joins Chandler. Themap work is not as good as in others in the series.Napoleon’s Road to Moscow 55 min 1999 (N)A grim narration of this climactic campaign. More film footage from SergeiBondarchuk’s War and Peace. The reenactor narrator portrays Sergeant Bourgogne ofthe French Imperial Guard. His memoirs are a vivid personalization of the hardship andsuffering of Napoleon’s coalition army.Riehn, Richard K. 1812: Napoleon’s Russian Campaign. NYC :McGraw-Hill, 1990. (2)A terrific modern secondary account of this decisive disaster. Riehn is a foundingmember of the Military Historical Society. He employs primary sources never beforetranslated from the German and Russian. If you want to dive deeply into this campaignthis is your Segur, Comte Philippe-Paul, Napoleon’s Russian Campaign.Houghton-Mifflin, 1958 (3)A fine contemporary primary source account by one of Napoleon’s staff officers, hisQuartermaster General (QMG). I read this in my Russian History class at Annapolis andhis images have stuck with me till this day. A classic warning. Why didn’t Hitler take it?He never read it.On Segur’s qualifications to write this gripping account: “I was less an actor than awitness [of this campaign], never leaving the Emperor’s side for more than a few feet,and then only to deliver several of his orders and see that they were carried out.”Here is his disillusioned description of the battlefield of Valoutina: “Ney’s soldiers andthe remnants of Gutin’s divisions, now without a general, were drawn up for review, ontop of Russian and French corpses, in the midst of mutilated trees. The earth was beatenhard by the feet of the combatants, plowed by cannon balls, and littered with brokenweapons, torn clothing, military equipment, overturned wagons, and human limbs. Thesewere the trophies of war! Such is the beauty of a field of victory! Sessions v-Sixth Coalition & vi- VölkerschlachtBrett-James, Anthony, Europe against Napoleon; the LeipzigCampaign, 1813, from eyewitness accounts. Macmillan, 1970 (2)Schulze, Hagen, The course of German nationalism : from Frederickthe Great to Bismarck, 1763-1867. Cambridge University Press, 1991
  8. 8. 8(2)The arduous path from the colorful diversity of the Holy Roman Empire to thePrussian-dominated German nation-state, Bismarcks German Empire of 1871, ledthrough revolutions, wars and economic upheavals, but also through the culturalsplendor of German Classicism and Romanticism. Hagen Schulze takes a freshlook at late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century German history, explaining it as theinteraction of revolutionary forces from below and from above, of economics,politics, and culture. None of the results were predetermined, and yet theiroutcome was of momentous significance for all of Europe, if not the world. interesting prize-winning article by a recent West Point grad on N’s campaign of1814. This is typical of the sort of material available at this site.Napoleon : vol 2. 3 hrs 1 min 2002 (N)The 4th A&E episode describes the defeat of Napoleon, his abdication in 1814 and histime on Elba. He hears of Joséphine’s death and plans his return. Session vii-Le Cent JoursKing, David, Vienna, 1814. Harmony Books, 2008. (2)An interesting, well researched (93 pp. of bibliography), but yet, an easy read. Gives thepicture of this extravagant celebrity-studded event. The high living, back room dealingattempt to create the modern world. He really brings the personalities to life. Thediplomacy and the espionage are thoroughly analyzed. Session viii-Waterloo and St. Helena1815: The Battle of Waterloo 55 min 1992 (N)Another in the series with reenactors, film excerpts and David Chandler commentaries.Nice battle diagrams and period paintings.Black, Jeremy, The Battle of Waterloo. Random House, 2010. (1)A professor of history at the University of Exeter, Black received the Samuel EliotMorison Prize of the Society for Military History in 2008. “More than a masterly guide toan armed conflict, [it] is a brilliant portrait of the men who fought it: Napoleon, the boldemperor who had bullied other rulers and worn down his own army with too many wars,and the steadfast Duke of Wellington, who used superior firepower and a flexiblegeneralship in his march to victory.
  9. 9. 9 “With bold analysis of the battle’s impact on history and its lessons for building lastingalliances in today’s world, The Battle of Waterloo is a small volume [236 pp.] bound tohave a big impact on global scholarship.I found Black especially useful for his comparisons of elements in this battle to otherswhich we have studied, both earlier Napoleonic and French Revolutionary and laterbattles. He also critiques earlier histories of the battle.Cotton Sergeant Major Edward (late 7 Hussars). A Voice from thWaterloo, 7 rev. ed., an e-Book by Google, 1895. thA wonderful first person account by a man who returned to Belgium and became a guideto the battlefield and an amateur historian of the campaign. He tells of his ownexperiences on the campaign, quotes from the extensive literature of the period, andrelates anecdotes from the numerous returning fellow veterans, high and low, whom heguided around the battlefield. Let this serve as your introduction to Google books if youhaven’t discovered this resource already. The URL for this and other such books is:, William, The History of Lord Seaton’s Regiment; The 52nd LightInfantry at Waterloo. 1866 @ is the memoir of a young volunteer, gazetted to ensign on the eve of this famousbattle. It is a fascinating look at the most celebrated light infantry regiment which wasinstrumental in the crisis, when Napoleon’s Guard was routed.Mercer, Gen. Cavalie, Journal of the Waterloo Campaign. (1)The account of an artillery officer of his journey from England to the battle and itsaftermath. A very well-written account of the daily trials and tribulations of a then-troopcommander Captain of horse artillery. His comments on the condition of the Anglo-Dutch (Belgian) coalition army and his on-the-ground narrative of the battle from a juniorparticipant on the right of Wellington’s line are a nice contrast with the usual bird’s eyenarratives, such as Weller’s, Chandler’s, Esposito’s, and Black’s. Especially dramatic arehis descriptions of the rear guard on 17 June when he sees Napoleon at the head of theFrench pursuit, just as the thunderstorm breaks (pp. 147-148) He touches on thedeplorable as well as the dramatic. Written in mid-nineteenth century but based upon hisdaily journals, it combines the virtue of maturity with the freshness of primary sourceobservations.Napoleon : vol 2. 3 hrs 1 min 2002 (N)The 4th A&E episode concludes this biopic with the famous confrontation with 5thInfantry Regiment, a disappointing filming of Waterloo (out of budget?), his futile effortto find freedom, and a somber time on St. Helena.Waterloo 115 min 1970 (N)Terrific Hollywood job starring Rod Steiger as Napoleon and Christopher Plummer asWellington, Orson Welles as Louis XVIII. Couldn’t be better casting. Beautiful slow
  10. 10. 10motion of the futile, overextended charge of the Royal Scots Greys. Spot on shots ofNey’s charge breaking up on the British infantry squares. I can’t imagine a better filmportrayal of this famous battle.Directed by Soviet Sergei Bondarchuk [who did the 10 hour monster filming of War andPeace and produced by Dino de Laurentis], “the film includes some 15,000 Soviet footsoldiers and 2,000 cavalrymen as extras ("it was said that, during its making, directorSergei Bondarchuk was in command of the seventh largest army in the world"). Fiftycircus stunt riders were used to perform the dangerous horse falls. These numbersbrought an epic quality to the battle scenes.” --(Wikipedia), Jac, Wellington at Waterloo. Thomas Y. Crowell, 1967. (1)A brief [160 pp], but rewarding, narrative of the campaign, followed by another hundredpages of most interesting evaluations: Wellington’s Mistakes, French Mistakes, PrussianMistakes, maps, photographs, diagrams (the best analysis of cavalry vs squares I’ve everseen) and tables. I was alerted to this source by Cornwell’s bibliography to the Sharpevolume, Waterloo. He lists it as one of his two most valuable sources (the other beingLady Longford’s Wellington; The Years of the Sword, supra). Her account of the battlecontains wonderful anecdotes from the primary sources. Once you’ve mastered thegeneral shape of the battle, try reading her last chapter, “Waterloo—The Finger ofProvidence.”