Favourite Books


A book for every day!

It is said that there are more books featuring Napoleon than days since his death.

We have well over a thousand in our personal collection, so where does one start? We aim to read all new titles in a quest for fresh angles and insights, yet few make the top grade. The written word, a wonderful thing, the basis for much of what we know, is however subject to interpretation, can repeat past errors, introduce fresh mistakes, can be supplanted by better analysis, can falsely claim thoughts as if they are original, can lack emotional nuance or be sternly defended as correct rather than being open to fresh thought.

Testing the latest written theories on-site soon sorts the 'men from the boys', demonstrating how important it is to experience historic places for yourself, seeing the nuance of the ground, the folds of the terrain, the demands of the topography: the reality of being there truly transforms all understanding!

Here are our current favourites, sifted from decades of reading and reference that we return to time and time again. It is an ever-expanding list, and we'll be adding more when we have time. Generally, the closer to first-hand eyewitness accounts the better, and sadly it can be the case that the most popular opinionated authors are sometimes the least reliable. If you reckon we've missed one, please get in touch!

History is a moving target, a minefield for the unwary. Lets see what Napoleon had to say on the subject in 1816 (published in Mémorial de Sainte Hélène, Count de Las Cases):

"... The truth of history, so much in request, to which every body eagerly appeals, is too often but a word. At the time of events, during the heat of conflicting passions, it cannot exist; and if, at a later period, all parties are agreed respecting it, it is because those persons who were interested in the events, those who might be able to contradict what is asserted, are no more. What then is, generally speaking, the truth of history? A fable agreed upon.

...With respect to the positive facts, it would seem that they ought to be incontrovertible; yet you will not find two accounts agreeing together in relating the same fact: some have remained contested points to this day, and will ever remain so. With regard to moral intentions, how shall we judge of them, even admitting the candour of those who relate events? And what will be the case if the narrators are not sincere, or if they should be actuated by interest or passions? I have given an order, but who was able to read my thoughts, my real intentions? Yet every one will take up that order, and measure it according to his own scale, or adapt it to his own plans or system ... And then memoirs are digested, memoranda are written, witticisms and anecdotes are circulated; and of such materials is history composed."

Never a truer word was said!


Robert Burnham

(Contributing Expert)

Full of superb fresh research, great companions for exploring the land of the campaigns.

Andrew W Field

(Contributing Expert)

Rightly famed for introducing his French Perspective of sources to the English-reading audience, Andrew has continued with the full eyewitness accounts and other new intriguing works.

Rob Griffith

(Contributing Expert)

Great original research on lesser known Peninsular men and actions displaying great flair and enterprise.

Pierre de Wit

(Contributing Expert)

Imagine almost five decades of cycling the campaign routes, checking the original sources across European archives and collections.

A true labour of love and dedication, this series will be a vital reference source for generations to come.

Available only from:

Pierre de Wit The Campaign of Waterloo volume 1 Preambles
Pierre de Wit The Campaign of Waterloo volume 6 Waterloo (part 1)

John Franklin

A great starter, crammed, concise and well illustrated, educational to both expert and novice.

Also, sadly out of print, his first hand correspondence series is fabulous.

Erwin Muilwijk

The record of the Dutch-Belgians set straight; this is knowledge expanding, myth-busting original research at its best. Available only from:


Jeremy Black

The best for strategy, bar none,

all in a little paperback!

Places the Hundred Days into superb and concise historical context.

Don't buy it for an account of the battle itself, but for a deeper appreciation of events that you simply won't find elsewhere.

Absolutely remarkable.

Count Joseph de Ferraris

My biggest book, my favourite book! A strictly limited edition, now impossible to come by at a sensible price, but vital to our research.

Modern day Belgium was mapped by the Austrian Count de Ferraris in 275 sheets, each one a work of art.

The Ferraris maps and plates, seized by French revolutionaries, formed the basis of the Capitaine maps used by all sides during the Waterloo campaign.

Simon Lewis

If you love the 1970 film you'll be entranced by this extraordinary book, a stirring telling of how the epic was made, and a very fine memorial to those who made it.

Richard Heffer's journal and photos were used as a major source, with more in his new book 'Waterloo 1969' - see 'Filming Waterloo':

Cavalié Mercer

The finest first-hand account of Waterloo, the campaign and maybe of any military campaign ever. The treasure is in what he observes that most would casually ignore, conveying extraordinary emotion.

The build-up, the uncertainty, the intensity and the aftermath are all observed without peer.

Originally in two volumes, but beware, some recent editions are abridged, lacking the full Mercer sparkle.

Rory Muir

My favourite Peninsular battle book. When most were thinking that the story of the battle is settled, Rory interrogates 'what we think we know' and shakes accepted wisdom to the core.

Drawing on modern map comparison techniques, eyewitnesses and prior historians, this is a brilliant analysis of what happened, and why it's not necessarily what we believed.

Charles Oman

The most formidably complete telling of the Peninsular War, and one of the earliest, originally published from 1902 to 1930 in seven volumes.

Deep original research backed by original sources, expert interpretation and travel across the battlefields and campaign routes ensures a well balanced accessible history, giving all nation's combatants a fair hearing. Great maps too.

Mike Robinson

Solidly focusing on this close-fought battle which ebbed and flowed like no other between Marshal Ney and the Duke of Wellington.

Deep research and expert topographical analysis, this serves a valuable service to the serious historian, and kick-started the renewed interest that many now have in this under-appreciated, costly and critical battle.

Jan Worthington

Surely the most extraordinary man of the era, bar none! Sailor, scholar, poet, headmaster, bigamist, adulterer, liar, murderer, actor, playwright, journalist, impersonator, forger, convict.

Halloran shared his life with wives, mistresses, 21 children, fought at Trafalgar and founded Australia's first grammar school. How remarkably different life could be back then!


Charles Esdaile

The Spanish Perspective, the guerrillas and wider Peninsular events beyond the heroes of Wellington's army. Fearless with his critiques.

Charles Esdaile

Another from Charles and a worthy study in its own right of the other side of war, mirroring our interest in the remarkable Women of Waterloo.

Gareth Glover

The top source of original allied accounts from the archives, mostly published in an ever-growing number of handy archive reference manuals.

John Hussey

A warm authoritative study reflecting a lifetime's dedicated thirst for truth and understanding. Provisions, diplomacy, planning, intelligence and the fighting itself.

Nick Lipscombe

The artillery's Peninsular War drawn from the formidable official archives, intriguingly illuminating an oft neglected fighting arm.

Ian Robertson

A gentle summary of events with maps, easy to carry about too!

Just enough detail to keep one eager for more, a great starting point.

Tim Saunders

Delightfully covering the sieges of this remarkable Spanish border outpost, a great read, definitely my favourite amongst all of Tim's works.

Mark Thompson

His publications are a delight, in particular his abiding interest in the small team of brave Engineers who faced dangers with composure.


Not a book, but a film. The 1970 original that captured so many of us. A must-watch before every visit to the field of valour.


Lynn Bryant

Lynn's Peninsular War Saga series is a gem. She personally visits all of her featured locations, so these are deeply grounded in sound research.

Shannon Selin

Monstrously good and her website is my favourite source for fun Napoleonic facts and tidbits, told in a beautiful style.

Tom Williams

A Sharpe substitute? You'll love these, a fantastic series, beautifully written, exploring Napoleonic characters and goings-on around the globe.