Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Adults - Nonfiction
If you asked any American what he or she knows about the War of 1812, that person is likely to mention the burning of our nation’s capital, the attack on Fort McHenry and Francis Scott Key’s poem that became our national anthem, or the Battle of New Orleans. Otherwise, it is essentially an obscure conflict, but the reasons that catapulted us into a second war with Great Britain are as complex as the war itself. While eventual peace returned us, more or less, to the status quo before the war, the consequences of the fighting proved significant for our country and how other nations viewed us.
Hickey begins with the first decade of the nineteenth century and the events and decisions that eventually led to war. The chapters that follow focus on the declaration of war, riots in Baltimore, campaigns in 1812 and 1813, how the war was funded and how sufficient men were found to fight, key people, embargoes and blockades, the British counteroffensive, summaries of individual battles, the nation’s economy, the Hartford Convention, the Treaty of Ghent, and the cost, legacy, and impact of the conflict.
Cartoons, artwork depicting events and people, proclamations, maps, and charts augment the text. Following the text, there are chapter notes with headings at the top of the pages to identify on which pages the source material is cited within the narrative. An introductory note includes areas in which further research is needed. The book also contains a detailed index.
For nearly fifty years, Hickey has studied the War of 1812, which makes him eminently qualified to write on this topic. While most scholars focus on either the military or naval facets of this conflict, his interests tend toward the domestic and political sides. When he wrote the first edition, which was published in 1989, he wanted to provide “a broader treatment of the war – one that dealt with politics, diplomacy, economics, and finance as well as battles and campaigns.” (xiii) And he admirably succeeded in that endeavor.
This new, bicentennial edition replaces the earlier one and encompasses more information while correcting errors found in that book. Another beneficial addition to this volume is the inclusion of subtopic headings within each chapter. The result is a general, but comprehensive, overview that is clear and concise. He also includes information about privateers and their contribution to the war effort, not only at sea, but also at the Battle of New Orleans. The War of 1812 is a superb summary of the conflict from beginning to end, and readers searching for an introduction will find this one of the best.
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Review Copyrighted ©2012 Cindy Vallar
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