Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

What should I read to understand why Napoleon was a great battlefield leader?

I woke up one morning and over my café au lait realized I knew nothing about Napoleon Bonaparte, probably the most significant Western military leader in modern history, so I poked around a bit and bought David Chandler’s Napoleon, which seemed to be a standard text. I read the Chandler, put it down disappointed. Lots ...

546231_ricks1_1112.jpg
546231_ricks1_1112.jpg

I woke up one morning and over my café au lait realized I knew nothing about Napoleon Bonaparte, probably the most significant Western military leader in modern history, so I poked around a bit and bought David Chandler's Napoleon, which seemed to be a standard text.

I read the Chandler, put it down disappointed. Lots of meaningless stuff about troop movements ("Kutusov was still determinedly withdrawing towards his rendezvous at Znaim with Buxhowden," p. 65) but little of what I was looking for about what Napoleon did that made him different from others, what his innovations were, how the enemy adjusted, and what he did next. Chandler's concluding section, on Napoleon and the art of war, did  some of that -- but not the previous five chapters.

I'd welcome any suggestions for a book on Nappy that illustrates and discusses him as a military leader, and even compares him to his contemporaries. 

I woke up one morning and over my café au lait realized I knew nothing about Napoleon Bonaparte, probably the most significant Western military leader in modern history, so I poked around a bit and bought David Chandler’s Napoleon, which seemed to be a standard text.

I read the Chandler, put it down disappointed. Lots of meaningless stuff about troop movements ("Kutusov was still determinedly withdrawing towards his rendezvous at Znaim with Buxhowden," p. 65) but little of what I was looking for about what Napoleon did that made him different from others, what his innovations were, how the enemy adjusted, and what he did next. Chandler’s concluding section, on Napoleon and the art of war, did  some of that — but not the previous five chapters.

I’d welcome any suggestions for a book on Nappy that illustrates and discusses him as a military leader, and even compares him to his contemporaries. 

Also, best book about Wellington vs. Napoleon?

 

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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