Napoleon Bonaparte remains an influential and hugely controversial figure to this day. He was a military leader and revolutionary who established new European states, while his Napoleonic code spread revolutionary ideas that challenged the prevailing feudal political, social and economic systems. However, his absolute control led to a loss of the personal freedoms gained during the Revolutionary era, his conquests caused untold amounts of suffering and death and he re-imposed slavery across French colonial possessions. These are just some of the issues you will need to wrestle with as you judge whether Napoleon can be regarded as a great leader.
Here are some further reading suggestions, covering a range of interpretations:
Alexander, R. S. (2001) Napoleon. London; New York: Arnold. Co-published in the USA by Oxford University Press.
Bell, D A (2015) Napoleon: A Concise Biography, Oxford University Press
Blaufarb, R. (2007) Napoleon: A Symbol for an Age: A Brief History with Documents, Bedford St Martin
Broers, M. (2014) Europe Under Napoleon, I. B. Tauris.
Dwyer, P. (2018) Napoleon 1815-40, Bloomsbury
Grab, A. (2003) Napoleon and the Transformation of Europe, Red Globe Press
Geyl, P. (1965) Napoleon, For and Against. Harmondsworth; New York: Penguin Books.
Ribbe, C. (2008) Napoleon’s Crimes: a blueprint for Hitler. Oxford: Oneworld
Roberts, A. (2014) Napoleon the Great. 2nd ed. Great Britain: Penguin Books.
Roberts, A. (2015) Napoleon: A Life, Penguin Books
Zamoyski, A (2018) Napoleon, Great Britain: Basic Books