My brother Mitch was the President of RIMMS (Rhode Island Military Miniature Society). As a member of this society he was able to indulge in his hobby of painting figures. To support this hobby he became a dealer in miscellaneous military items like: miniature figures, books, prints, uniforms, etc. He would attend figure and toy soldier shows around the Northeast where he would sell his wares and join the other exhibitors. As inventory grew it became clear that he needed help with his road trips. This is where I come in.
After a year of so of assisting him I decided to peddle some goods for myself while I was hanging around minding the booth. Having always had an interest in Napoleon I decided to specialize in that area. I applied for my Rhode Island Sales license in 1986 and Empire Books was born.
Over the next Ten years my collection of Napoleonic titles had grown from a handful to over 1000. I have a variety of different subjects I've collected and until proven otherwise I believe it is the largest privately owned collection in the USA.
The collection includes:
Biographies of Napoleon or General Histories - Once you have read a couple you probably don't need anymore. I'm at the stage that I don't collect these unless they are particularly unusual. Chandler's CAMPAIGN'S OF NAPOLEON and Sloane's LIFE OF NAPOLEON are the only two I finished reading and I thought they were both very good.
Campaign or Battle books - They start in 1793 and run through his Last Will. Some campaigns are covered by lots of books while others have only a few books available. I do enjoy reading at least a couple of books on each major campaign. The Petre series is good as are the Osprey paperbacks. AUSTERLITZ: Glory Years by Scott Bowden is one of my favorites.
Family and Friends - This is an interesting area because many of the books are first hand accounts and their opinions and ideas about Napoleon and the things that transpired during that period are enlightening. Having finished Stacton's BONAPARTE'S I can't help but feel that Napoleon deserved more from his brothers and sisters. I also find Napoleon's letters to be highly entertaining.
Memoirs - Memoirs are my favorites. While it is good to understand the grand tactics used on a campaign it is something special to sit down with a road weary grognard and share a boiled potato and piece of pork fat. That first person perspective can pick you up and transport you to the jubilance and excitement of the torch procession on the eve of Austerlitz or to the dark, dank, sweat shop in the belly of a British man-of-war. Marbot's memoirs are my favorite but I've also enjoyed De Rocca, and Paquin, Lejuene, Rapp. Just finished Savary's memoir and it was enlightening.
Military Studies - Here is an opportunity to understand the mechanics of warfare as well as survival during Napoleonic warfare. The 'Cavalry' books by David Johnson are among the most highly praised books I sell. SWORDS AROUND THE THRONE by Col. Elting may be the most universally recommended book on this period.
Lastly I have a few collectible Napoleonic prints. They are either reproductions of period pieces or work by Keith Rocco.
The Real World
Though I have a lot of fun with this and I have learned a lot it doesn't pay the bills. My full time job is as a Software Consultant to the Seafood industry. Many years ago I used my tech skills to set up an online books store and it worked out nice but then Amazon came along and put me out of business. Now its decades later and time to sell some of these wonderful books that I still have left.