Русский | English

New bibliography of the Napoleonic wars

Vovsi Eman

The Napoleonic era attracted the vast attention of many participants and by-standers even when it was still in full motion, and had captivated the world ever since. The new book of a renowned military writer and educator, Frederick C. Schneid of High Point University, USA  «Napoleonic Wars: The Essential Bibliography» represents yet another valid addition to the existing amount of historical literature who, perhaps, is himself of the last cohort of traditional «operation military historians»writing on the Napoleonic wars. To achieve his task, Schneid places his bibliographical material in six chapters, dealing with the origins of Napoleonic warfare, the Napoleonic wars, the campaigns, satellites and minor states, and armies of the Napoleonic era, respectively. Further, a special chapter is dedicated to a transatlantic history and involvement of Britain and Spain in the Peninsular War (1807-14).Schneid sets off his narrative by tracing the origin of the Napoleonic warfare from classical works of the nineteenth and primarily the early twentieth century’s military writers – Charles Oman, Ramsay Phipps, F. Loraine Petre and the others – to the modern scholarship.The new generation of «Napoleonic» scholars, including the often-mentioned Michael Leggiere, Alexander Mikaberidze and Schneid himself, produced new array of research, however often limited to specific campaigns or selected battles and thus designed more for the service academies rather than general college audience. The author concurs with the general notion that «Napoleon was not an originator but an innovator of forms of war» developed before him (10, 64). To that extend, one of the interesting part in Schneid’s book is his discourse on «Napoleonic genius» offered by existing scholarship – from Gunter Rothenberg’s acceptance of it (Art of Warfare, 1976), to Owen Connelly’s notion of luck (Blundering to Glory, 1987) and finally to Charles Esdaile’s view of the broader nature of the wars and Napoleon’s opportunism (The Wars of Napoleon, 1995). In his book Schneid primarily consults works from the academic circles of which he is himself a proud and distinguished member.  This precluded the author to look outside of the traditional scholarship, which grows tremendously in our age of electronic technologies and social network.  One of such sources that merit attention is the Napoleonic-series web site.  Established at the beginning of 2000s, this site is dedicated to Napoleonic history and consists, up to-date, of over 12,000 articles, maps, illustrations, reviews, photographs, and charts submitted by professionals, students and aficionados from all over the world, who write exclusively on the Napoleonic topics and translate into English many rare primary sources. To sum note that «Napoleonic Wars: The Essential Bibliography» is an excellent platform and starting point for any serious beginner of the Napoleonic era, who will find in this bibliographical work general information to pursue one’s specific interest in military history – be it origins or course of the Napoleonic warfare, history of big and small European states and armies, or specifics of the Peninsular war   to a more advanced level of research.

Keywords: historiography, bibliography, Napoleonic wars, Frederick C. Schneid
Link: Vovsi E. New bibliography of the Napoleonic wars // Annuaire d'études françaises 2017: La France et la Méditerranée aux époques moderne et contemporaine / Annual of French Studies 2017: France and the Mediterranean in Modern and Contemporary Times.М. P. 436-442.