Napoleon's Wars: An International History 1803-1815
Charles Esdaile 2007
This is not an entry level Napoleon book, but one no grognard should miss - the author assumes a familiarity with the later years of the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars. His treatment of major battles and campaigns is brief, but that is
his stated purpose. This is a detailed and highly readable study of the
diplomacy and foreign relations of Europe for the 20 years following 1789
concentrating n Europe but including global events when important.
The author is highly critical of Napoleon, but his biases are clearly stated.
If the reader is familiar with the era, it's easier to assess the author's
arguments. A major emphasis is that the Napoleonic Wars were not
inevitable, and in particular, that they are not the result of the ancien
regimes of old Europe determined to crush the upstart new republicanism of
"On the contrary, traditional foreign policy interests had survived unchanged
... as Napoleon initially appeared as just one more player of the
diplomatic game, and secondly, very much in retreat from the Revolution"
I was reminded of the classic board game Empires in Arms. This grand
strategy game, involving up to 7 players taking the parts of France,
England, Russia, Austria, Prussia, etc provides a hands-on confirmation of much
of Esdaile's analysis. Newcomers quickly discover that history isn't
inevitable, and that decisions, personal and national do make a difference.