1812: War with America

1812: War with America

1812: War with America

1812: War with America


In the first complete history of the War of 1812 written from a British perspective, Jon Latime offers an authoritative and compelling account that places the conflict in its strategic context within the Napoleonic wars. He crafts an intimate narrative that marches the reader into the heat of battle.


In reading the history of nations, we find that, like individuals, they have
their whims and their peculiarities; their seasons of excitement and reck
lessness, when they care not what they do … We see one nation sud
denly seized, from its highest to its lowest members, with a fierce desire
of military glory; another as suddenly becoming crazed upon a religious
scruple, and neither of them recovering its senses until it has shed rivers
of blood and sowed a harvest of groans and tears.

—Charles Mackay, Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions

As THE Canadian historian William Kingsford observed more than a century ago, events in North America between 1812 and 1815 were not forgotten in Britain, “for they have never been known there.” Even today most Britons remain unaware that a British force burned the White House in 1814, and indeed most Americans would admit to knowing little more about the conflict than the fact of the battle of New Orleans and the fact that the national anthem was composed at the time.

It has been said that the British consult history and, when necessary, invent it; but an examination of the War of 1812 shows that this is by no means an exclusively British trait. Following Andrew Jacksons defensive victory at New Orleans, which placed him firmly on the road to the presidency—giving him and his supporters grounds to mythologize it into the greatest military engagement of the war—the entire conflict was conflated into a stunning American triumph, a version of events effectively carved in stone by George Bancroft in his multivolume History of the United States (1834–1873). This was substantially echoed by Henry Adams in his History of the United States (1889–1891), and in some respects all subsequent histories of the conflict remain in the shadow of Bancroft's interpretation. The war has often been . . .

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