1812: The War That Forged a Nation

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Harper Collins, Oct 5, 2004 - History - 368 pages
42 Reviews

In June 1812 the still-infant United States had the audacity to declare war on the British Empire. Fought between creaking sailing ships and armies often led by bumbling generals, the ensuing conflict featured a tit-for-tat "You burned our capital, so we'll burn yours" and a legendary battle unknowingly fought after the signing of a peace treaty.

During the course of the war, the young American navy proved its mettle as the USS Constitution, "Old Ironsides," sent two first-rate British frigates to the bottom, and a twenty-seven-year-old lieutenant named Oliver Hazard Perry hoisted a flag exhorting, "Don't Give Up the Ship," and chased the British from Lake Erie. By 1814, however, the United States was no longer fighting for free trade, sailors' rights, and as much of Canada as it could grab, but for its very existence as a nation. With Washington in flames, only a valiant defense at Fort McHenry saved Baltimore from a similar fate.

Here are the stories of commanding generals such as America's Henry "Granny" Dearborn, double-dealing James Wilkinson, and feisty Andrew Jackson, as well as Great Britain's gallant Sir Isaac Brock, overly cautious Sir George Prevost, and Rear Admiral George Cockburn, the man who put the torch to Washington. Here too are those inadvertently caught up in the war, from heroine farm wife Laura Secord, whom some call Canada's Paul Revere, to country doctor William Beanes, whose capture set the stage for Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner."

1812: The War That Forged a Nation presents a sweeping narrative that emphasizes the struggle's importance to America's coming-of-age as a nation. Though frequently overlooked between the American Revolution and the Civil War, the War of 1812 did indeed span half a continent -- from Mackinac Island to New Orleans, and Lake Champlain to Horseshoe Bend -- and it paved the way for the conquest of the other half.

During the War of 1812, the United States cast aside its cloak of colonial adolescence and -- with both humiliating and glorious moments -- found the fire that was to forge a nation.


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This was a great succinct overview of the War of 1812. - Goodreads
Easy to read and follow. - Goodreads
Good book that gave an overview of the war. - Goodreads
... type of writing style. - Goodreads
It was full of information, but very easy to read. - Goodreads

Review: 1812: The War That Forged a Nation

User Review  - Tom & Joel M - Goodreads

Good book that gave an overview of the war. Read full review

Review: 1812: The War That Forged a Nation

User Review  - Chris DeFazio - Goodreads

well written and greatly readable. for a history buff such as myself i was finally able to get my arms around a topic which I'd been lacking on, the war of 1812, and it was not overly long or at all boring in allowing me to do so. Read full review


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Popular passages

Page 132 - We have met the enemy and they are ours; two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop.
Page 14 - I have just received an offer from Mr. Burr, the actual Vice-President of the United States (which situation he is about to resign), to lend his assistance to his Majesty's government in any manner in which they may think fit to employ him, particularly in endeavoring to effect a separation of the western part of the United States from that which lies between the Atlantic and the mountains, in its whole extent.
Page 132 - It has pleased the Almighty to give to the arms of the United States a signal victory over their enemies on this Lake. The British squadron, consisting of two ships, two brigs, one schooner, and one sloop, have this moment surrendered to the force under my command after a sharp conflict.
Page 57 - The conquest of Canada is in your power. I trust I shall not be deemed presumptuous when I state that I verily believe that the militia of Kentucky are alone competent to place Montreal and Upper Canada at your feet.
Page 289 - ... caused a wavering in the column, which in such a situation became irreparable ; and as I advanced with the reserve, at about two hundred and fifty yards from the line, I had the mortification to observe the whole falling back upon me in the greatest confusion.
Page 68 - Detroit. It is far from my inclination to join in a war of extermination, but you must be aware that the numerous body of Indians who have attached themselves to my troops will be beyond my control the moment the contest commences.

About the author (2004)

Walter R. Borneman is the author of Alaska: Saga of a Bold Land, 1812: The War That Forged a Nation, and several books on the history of the western United States. He lives in Colorado.

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