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War of 1812 by Carl Benn
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Solid overview of the war, which is what I expect from Osprey. Nothing new is presented but as with most of the Essential Histories series a good starting point for studying this often forgotten war and Benn gives an even handed account of the war. If the only account of the War of 1812 you have read is from a High school textbook you might be in for a bit of a shock. Benn, like many of the historians writhing about the war dispels with the patriotic mythology that this was a "second war for independence" and more a war that the States started without proper planning. It is shown that we underestimated the British resistance, overestimated the fighting strengths of our militias, although we should have learned this in the Revolutionary War as we had the same problems with them, and had poor leadership. The book also has a chapter that goes over propaganda and protest as well as a chapters about the war chief Black Hawk of the Sauk peoples and a chapter on the efforts of John Strachan, a priest of the Church of England during the fighting at York. Over all you find after reading about this war that the reasons for going to war were as ambiguous as its outcome and helped start the formation of a national identity for Canada. ( )
1 vote bakabaka84 | Aug 30, 2012 |
This book by Canadian author Carl Benn provides a concise overview of the War of 1812 in under 100 pages. Like other books published by Osprey Publishing, it includes numerous illustrations depicting military uniforms, equipment, events, and locations, with color maps illustrating some of the major campaigns. The land campaign receives twice as much attention as the naval battles and the attacks on Washington, D.C. and New Orleans (22 pages vs. 11 pages). If, like me, you have ancestors who served in the army or militia in one of the lesser-known battles of the war, you're likely to find at least a brief mention of the battle in this book.

There is a difference of opinion among historians about the causes of the war. Although territorial expansion into Canada was not among the reasons listed by President Madison when he asked Congress to declare war, the author believes it was a fundamental objective of the war. I'm of the opinion that Canada was a secondary objective, a means to an end. The author concludes that "an assessment of objectives set in 1812 and realized in 1814 points to a British victory, although perhaps one that is not clear in the modern mind, partly because the war occurred in an age when diplomatic negotiations, the preservation of dignity, and compromise marked treaties, rather than the images of unconditional surrender that have come to dominate our consciousness." I would have liked specific examples of other such treaties, but this book is not an academic treatment of the topic where footnotes/end notes would provide support for statements like this. The author does seem to acknowledge other interpretations of the war's conclusion when he states that "while the case for a fundamental British victory over the United States is the most logical one that can be made, there were other participants in the conflict whose stories muddy the waters." I'm not persuaded to change my opinion that neither side won.

Recommended as a good chronological overview to the War of 1812, and as an alternate perspective to many of the standard American treatments of the war. ( )
2 vote cbl_tn | Jun 20, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0415968399, Hardcover)

The bloody war of 1812 saw British, American, and First Nations forces clash in a conflict that would forever alter North America. This book explains the background to the war and covers the three years of fighting on land and sea, including the battles of Lake Erie and Lake Champlain.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:13 -0400)

This book examines the War of 1812, the conflict itself and the controversies surrounding it.

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