War of 1812

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Smithsonian (www.si.edu)

  On June 18, 1812, President James Madison signed a declaration of war against Britain that began what is often called America’s Second War of Independence.  This summer marks the 200th anniversary of that event. We’re all familiar with Old Ironside, The Star-spangled Banner, and the Battle of New Orleans.  But what else do we know about this two-and-a-half-year war?  What different points of view did the participants in the war have?  Who were some of the famous people who fought in the war?  If you want to learn more about the War of 1812, check out some of the books available at the Denton Public Library.  

   The War of 1812: a Guide to Battlefields and Historic Sites by John Grant and Ray Jones (2011) is a companion to the PBS documentary The War of 1812.  The book includes a lengthy introduction which is a good overview of the war.  Each chapter covers a theater of the war, with listings of historic sites.  Each listing includes a description of the site’s significance at the time and what you can see there today.

   Union 1812: the Americans who Fought the Second War of Independence by A. J. Langguth (2006)  Lannguth tells the history of the war with a focus on the leaders who fought and shaped it.  Some saw their fortunes rise; others saw their hard-won reputations ruined.  For a few, the war would set them on a path to the Presidency.  The war also had disasterous consequences for Native Americans.

   Constitution vs Guerriere: Frigates during the War of 1812 by Mark Lardas (2009)  This book is part of Osprey’s Duel series.  Osprey is well-known for publishing detailed and technical books about battles and military equipment and vehicles.  This one is about the frigate duels during the War of 1812, specifically the one in the title.  There are ship specifications, histories of the ships, specifications about the crews and details of the frigate engagements; and charts and maps.  The navy played a very important role in this conflict.

   Perilous Fight: America’s Intrepid War with Britain on the High Seas, 1812-1815 by Stephen Budansky (2010) is another book about the naval war, including the battles around the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.  Many scholars have seen the war as inconclusive, but Budansky demonstrates that the War of 1812 legitamized America’s standing in the world.

   Six Frigates: the Epic History of the Founding of the U. S. Navy by Ian W. Toll (2006) recounts the history of the U. S. navy from its beginning through the War of 1812.  Many of the circumstances that led the United States to declare war, and the war itself, are major parts of this history.  By the time war came, the American navy, although small, was a formidable force.

   The War of 1812 in the Age of Napoleon by Jeremy Black (2009)  Jeremy Black is a British historian who writes about the war from a British perspective and in the context of Britain’s war against France during that period.  He shows that the British saw their conduct towards the U. S. before the war (which many Americans found intolerable) as necessary and justified for fighting the wars against Napoleon.  For the British, the War of 1812 was a mere distraction that few remember today.

   1812: War with America by Jon Latimer was also a British historian who wrote about the war from a British persective, and put it in the context of the Napoleonic Wars.  He also emphasized a British view that the war was a failed attempt on the part of the United States to annex Canada.  He thought the war was inconclusive for the U. S. and Britain, but points out that it united Canadians and set them on the road to confederation and national status.


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