Searching for more books on Napoleon than days since his death on Google shows a few websites that make this claim. Note that Napoleon Bonaparte died roughly 200 years ago, or about 73.000 days ago.

The source most of those websites use is an essay called Review of Books Written about Napoleon Bonaparte which claims

The last estimate for the number of books written on Napoleon was over 300,000 (J.D. Markham, 9)

I don't know what "J.D. Markham, 9" refers to. According to Wikipedia, J. David Markham is an expert on Napoleon Bonaparte. Regardless of who he is though, I'd prefer to see some concrete evidence of this claim to believe it.

Another website says:

Munro Price, quoting yet another biographer of Napoleon, claims there have been “[w]ell over 200,000 books…written about him since his death.”

I wasn't able to find out where Munro Price quoted this "other biographer of Napoleon", let alone who this "other biographer of Napoleon" is.

I've seen mentioned in some places that Amazon references 40.000 books on Napoleon but 1) not all of those books are about Napoleon Bonaparte, and 2) 40.000 is far from 300.000 and fairly far from 73.000 as well.

In the end, I didn't manage to find any primary source, or any explanation of the methodology of those primary sources.

So, have there been more books written about Napoleon Bonaparte than days have passed since his death? Are there more than 300.000 books on Napoleon Bonaparte?

  • 2
    Welcome to Skeptics! Sorry for the downvotes, your question shares some characteristics of typical spam (don't ask why). They'll be reversed shortly.
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 15:33
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    @Glorfindel thanks for the explanation; I was quite surprised by seeing -3 literally seconds after posting.
    – DDD4
    Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 15:35
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    Some context: meta.stackexchange.com/q/307585/295232 - bottom line: we need this line of protection to keep the sites free from spam, and cases like your question are rare and usually quickly fixed.
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 15:40
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    According to Andrew Roberts, it's specifically titles that contain "Napoleon". (However, I don't trust him as a source for an answer; people who aren't experts in corpus research tend to make mistakes.)
    – Laurel
    Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 16:29
  • The 9 is probably footnote #9, which would tell you the book name and page. But the footnotes were cut out. Since it's a sample student essay, you could probably find that quote as easily as they did. Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 17:34

1 Answer 1


>70.000 books and articles about the general historic vicinity of Napoleon, in 1908.

... and napoleon.org says 'yes'

There is an article ("Historical Investigation and the Commercial History of the Napoleonic Era", 1914, W.E.Lingelbach) that quotes "Kircheisen, Bibliographie du Temps de Napoleon (Paris, I908), p. viii." as saying

"[...] assured his readers that he had over 70,000 independent titles, and, if translations and editions were considered, over 200,000[...]"

this quote is in the context of

"[...] military, diplomatic, and political history of the Napoleonic era [...] Literally thousands of volumes-the latest bibliography on Napoleonic history speaks of 200,000 titles- have been written on some phase or other of the history of this period"

Yet the book itself says at the quoted spot:

Je possède maintenant plus de 70000 titres d'ouvrages et d'articles dans ma bibliographie [...]

So the

'books written about Napoleon Bonaparte'

from the Q needs to be interpreted as

'books and articles written about the general historic vicinity of Napoleon Bonaparte', i.e. writings that somehow help the reader understand the Napoleonic times

, which is not unreasonable for a historical examination - we cannot expect pure biographies to exist in those numbers.

Why they count translations and editions to arrive at the 200.000 unmber is opaque to me, though.

note Kircheisen, on the same page says that in that bibliography he counts 8000 articles and books as 'the most important and most serious'

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    I found the book you refer to : numelyo.bm-lyon.fr/f_view/BML:BML_00GOO0100137001104319343 . On said page, it refers to any kind of article or book that mentions Napoleon, not just books. So it is not a good source for the claim that there are >70k books about Napoleon
    – Hector
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 9:51
  • @Hector thank you! - changed my answer accordingly
    – bukwyrm
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 10:06
  • Thanks for your answer. From @Hector's link, Kircheisen writes that he collected all books/articles referencing events from the beginning of the French Revolution (1789) to the end of the Restoration (which could be either 1815 or 1830), and that he then filtered those books/articles to keep only those about Napoleon. It's not clear that 70.000 refers to the books before or after this filtering. If it's before the filtering, then I suspect that it also includes a lot of items about the French Revolution, most of which have nothing to do with Napoleon.
    – DDD4
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 10:11
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    Also, as I said, those 70.000 books could include books/articles about the 2nd Restoration (1815-1830), when Napoleon was either in exile or dead. Still, some of those books will be about the consequences of his actions, but I suspect that some others will be unrelated.
    – DDD4
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 10:13
  • For some context: Napoleon was governing France from 1799 to 1814/1815. So Kircheisen collected books/articles from 10 years before he came to power, to 15 years after he was kicked out. Once again, some of those books will be relevant, others wont.
    – DDD4
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 10:17

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