1812 : War with America

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In the first complete history of the War of 1812 written from a British perspective, Jon Latimer offers an authoritative and compelling account that places the conflict in its strategic context within the Napoleonic wars. The British viewed the War of 1812 as an ill-fated attempt by the young American republic to annex Canada. For British Canada, populated by many loyalists who had fled the American Revolution, this was a war for survival. The Americans aimed both to assert their nationhood on the global stage and to expand their territory northward and westward.Americans would later find in this war many iconic moments in their national story - the bombardment of Fort McHenry (the inspiration for Francis Scott Key's "Star Spangled Banner"); the Battle of Lake Erie; the burning of Washington; the death of Tecumseh; Andrew Jackson's victory at New Orleans - but their war of conquest was ultimately a failure. Even the issues of neutrality and impressment that had triggered the war were not resolved in the peace treaty. For Britain, the war was subsumed under a long conflict to stop Napoleon and to preserve the empire. The one lasting result of the war was in Canada, where the British victory eliminated the threat of American conquest, and set Canadians on the road toward confederation.Latimer describes events not merely through the eyes of generals, admirals, and politicians but through those of the soldiers, sailors, and ordinary people who were directly affected. Drawing on personal letters, diaries, and memoirs, he crafts an intimate narrative that marches the reader into the heat of battle.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 574 pages
  • 158 x 234 x 42mm | 961.61g
  • The Belknap Press
  • Cambridge, Mass., United States
  • English
  • 0674025849
  • 9780674025844
  • 549,834

Review quote

any books have been written about the War of 1812 in the last few years, but none quite like Jon Latimer's "1812: War with America." The author of histories of British arms in the Burma and North African campaigns in World War II, Latimer has written the first book on the the War of 1812 from the British perspective since nearly two centuries ago. The result is a thorough and elegantly written account that squarely places the conflict in the context of the Napoleonic Wars..."1812: War with America" covers all aspects of the conflict, including diplomacy, finances, atrocities perpetrated by and against the Indians, the naval campaigns at sea and on the Great Lakes, and the land campaigns in the Old Northwest, the South, and Canada...With wit and pathos, [Latimer] has drawn wonderful capsule sketches of the participants, and his staggering research as led to illuminating first-hand accounts of marches and battles from leading generals to lowly sergeants..."1812: War with America" is a deshow more

Review Text

British military historian Latimer (Burma: The Forgotten War, 2004, etc.) provides a blow-by-blow study of this still vaguely understood conflict. Known primarily for inspiring Francis Scott Key to write "The Star Spangled Banner," the War of 1812 was a hugely convoluted affair. The hostility between England and the United States, both still smarting from the War for Independence, was exacerbated by the British perception that the Jefferson and Madison administrations were pro-French, by American land lust and by such maritime grievances as the Royal Navy's impressment of U.S. sailors. Latimer takes the English point of view that America's goal was to overrun Canada. Markets were depressed from 1808 to 1812, and trade was of first importance to the fledgling U.S. government. Jefferson believed the conquest of Canada "a mere matter of marching," first to Montreal and from there to take control of the Great Lakes. With England preoccupied by Bonaparte's conquests in Europe, Canada was left to raise its own means of defense under Colonel Isaac Brock and governor-in-chief George Prevost. The British enlisted the help of Indian leaders such as Tenskwatawa and his brother Tecumseh, while Brock successfully resisted the American invasion at the Battle of Queenston Heights. American privateers took to sea and wreaked havoc on Royal Navy vessels, as Latimer demonstrates in one dizzying chapter. He explores in painstaking detail the campaigns on the lakes and the frontier, the raids and blockades; he looks carefully at the defining battles of Plattsburgh and New Orleans, as well as the burning and ransacking of Washington by the British in 1814. In the end, no one was quite sure what it was all about, but the net result was to strengthen Canadian nationalism. An exhaustive reassessment of a war neither side really won. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

About Jon Latimer

Jon Latimer is the author of several books on military history, including Alamein (Harvard).show more

Rating details

43 ratings
3.79 out of 5 stars
5 16% (7)
4 53% (23)
3 26% (11)
2 2% (1)
1 2% (1)
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