1812: The War of 1812

1812: The War of 1812

by Walter R. Borneman
3.5 14

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1812: The War of 1812 by Walter R. Borneman

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061835728
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 392
Sales rank: 329
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

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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1812 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've just completed Mr. Bornemann's book. I have to say that if a historian wants to know how to write a historical study of this nature, read this book. Too many histories I've read, due to their bland litany of facts, are a sure-fire cure for insomnia. Mr. Bornemann's thorough treatise is very entertaining, while remaining factually charged. He breaks up his work into easily digestible sections, which leaves time for reflection and gives a convenient 'break in the action.' My only disappointment was the lack of maps. For instance, I would have loved to have followed the movements of Red Stick War on a map similar to what was done with the Battle of Lake Erie. However, that is minor when compared to the overall effect created. In particular, I have to second the reader below, who wrote of the emotion Mr. Bornemann evokes when he describes the circumstances around the Key's writing of the 'Star-Spangled Banner.' I personally feel 'America the Beautiful' would be a better national hymn, but tears came to my eyes during this section. This is especially due to Bornemann's use of words from the poem interwoven into the text, foreshadowing the great event to come. I bought this book to learn something about a war, about which I was ignorant. I made a wise choice.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Borneman's writing style makes this book both interesting and entertaining. Although most present-day Americans know little about this 'forgotten war,' this book enlightens us to the fact that the War of 1812 changed the way U.S. citizens regarded themselves. Following the Battle of New Orleans, they were confident of their place in the world.
jmgallen More than 1 year ago
I was looking for a book that would organize the War of 1812 in my mind. I found it in “1812: The War That Forged A Nation”. It tells the story of the America’s grievances, the impressments of seamen, the believed British agitation of Indians and the seizure of ships, to say nothing of the inconvenience of being entangled in the Europe’s wars. Spurred on by that and the lure of the conquest of Canada, America marched to a war for which it was ill prepared. Author Walter R. Borneman takes us back into the environment of the day. He sets us in a United States so fragile that a former vice-president and a general could conspire to split off the western territories into a new country with a reasonable chance of success and in which the general at least could continue in the service of the country he tried to dismember. He lays the background of a ruling party that opposed the concept of a navy, tried to bring foreign enemies to heel by embargoing trade and, ultimately resorting to a war in which the Navy played an important, and possibly decisive, role. In the midst of it the Hartford Convention raised the specter of a New England secession, but questions just how serious of a threat it really was. The organization is achieved by relating the histories of the theatres of the war: the West, in which Indians died and William Henry Harrison won fame at Tippecanoe and “Mad” Anthony Wayne triumphed at Fallen Timbers, The Niagara front in which forces attacked back and forth between New York and Upper Canada (Ontario), and Lakes Erie and Ontario in which hastily built fleets contested and victories consolidated American sovereignty. When things had reached stalemate the defeat of Napoleon freed veteran British troops for the invasion of the Chesapeake with the burning of Washington, in retaliation it is said for the American burning of York (Toronto), and the night that the rockets’ red glare gave proof that our flag was still over Fort McHenry on Baltimore Harbor. The scene then shifts to Europe where American diplomats, including Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams tried to get what they could and Britain’s negotiators just tried to end years of war. Finally, after everything had been settled, an invading Army, trying to shore up British interests in the Gulf of Mexico, was stopped by a collection of regulars, militia and bayou pirates under the command of Andrew Jackson. The writing style is good so I my mind never wandered. I had read other books about the War of 1812 so to some degree this was a refresher. I now have a better understanding of why war broke out, where and how it was foughtand the reasons Britain probably would have lived up to the Treaty of Ghent even if they had defeated Jackson at New Orleans. Borneman supplies food for thought as to how the War changed the United States from a plural collective that are to a singular nation that is. Little is said about how the War influenced the development of Canada but each book has its own focus and this one’s is on the United States. With this background I am ready to move on to more specialized studies of that war of two centuries ago that forged one nation, and maybe two.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading this book, I can understand why there are so few books written on this war as opposed to the Civil War, WWI, or WWII. Not much was accomplished, other than a few ship engagements and the Battle of New Orleans. After all was said and done, no real advances were made by either side. The book lacked detail in the total treatment of the times, politics, and battles. If you want a quick read on the War of 1812 covering the few highlights, this could be the book. If you want to understand the war and national politics of the time, find another book.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author's premise that the War of 1812 is more important than we know and that it played a significant role in shaping the American character. While I don't think that this premise was delivered upon brilliantly, it is done well enough to warrant your time and money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
For the beginning historian, for the eclectic reader, this short history is an enjoyable book. It delivers on its title and premise, with occasional pop-culture references along the way. The author himself wonders 'how I could write a history of the War of 1812 based in Colorado,' and sometimes the experienced reader wonders too. Despite a fairly detailed explanation of naval vessel classification (pp. 78 ff), he identifies HMS Leopard as a 'fifty-gun British frigate' (p. 19), when in fact it is generally known to be a fourth-rate ship-of-the-line. There are a few typos in the paperback edition. All this being said, the heroes and villains are skillfully drawn (Gen. James Wilkinson is still a sleazeball) and the narrative moves the reader along quickly. The events surrounding 'The Star-Spangled Banner' are touching. This is a decent entry in the school of popular history: if it doesn't add anything new, it doesn't detract from the author's intention or readability.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book suffers from a confusing timeline that weakens the overall narrative. Chapter headers do not include dates as in many military histories, and the book tends to jump around by several months from chapter to chapter. In a book about a war that only lasted two and a half years, this can be disorienting. I will say that the naval battles are well done with helpful maps showing time indexed positions of the ships engaged. However, the narratives of the land battles are average at best, and theater and battle maps so lacking in detail that I don't know why they were included in the first place.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This newest book on the War of 1812 is a must read for both serious and casual U.S. historians. Walt Borneman's entertaining writing style makes this history book a very enjoyable read. The War of 1812 has always been considered the 'forgotten war.' This book makes it clear that even though most Americans do not understand why this war was fought; it was, in fact, a turning point in how U.S. citizens regarded themselves as a true soverign nation able and willing to defend itself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago