I am interested to know the books that Napoleon Bonaparte had read,and perhaps make a list about it. According to a Quora's answer, Napoleon had read:

  • Rousseau - La Nouvelle Héloïse, the Social Contract
  • Voltaire’s biography of Charles XII
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    Welcome to History:SE. What has your research shown you so far? You might find it helpful to review the site tour and Help Centre and, in particular, How to Ask. Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 20:26
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    From Napoleon on War: "Read over and over again the campaigns of Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Gustavus, Turenne, Eugene and Frederick ... This is the only way to become a great general and master the secrets of the art of war." Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 20:43
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    He also read The Prince in several occasions, and there is a version of Machiavelli's book with Napoleon's notes.
    – James Cook
    Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 21:14
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    Quick google, this is the first result: shannonselin.com/2015/02/napoleon-like-read Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 22:19

1 Answer 1


From the German Wikipedia on Napoleon:

  • Plato
  • Voltaire
  • Corneille
  • Lavater
  • Rollin "Geschichte des Altertums"
  • Buffon "Histoire naturelle"
  • Marigny "Geschichte der Araber"
  • Goethe "Die Leiden des jungen Werthers"
  • Rousseau
  • Raynal.

[Source (sic) given in Wikipedia is Franz Herre: Napoleon Bonaparte. Eine Biographie. München 2006, S. 12–18, Volker Ullrich: Napoleon. Reinbek bei Hamburg 2004, S. 16–22.]

From the English Wikipedia on James MacPherson, a Scottish writer and politician:

  • James MacPherson "Ossian", Italian translation by Melchiore Cesarotti (thanks to @Drux for pointing it out).

[Source given in Wikipedia is Zamoyski, Adam (2001). Holy Madness: Romantics, Patriots and Revolutionaries. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 45.]

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    James MacPherson (Ossian) should be on that list.
    – Drux
    Commented Jan 7, 2018 at 15:42