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The Incredible War of 1812: A Military History [Paperback]

J. Mackay Hitsman Hitsman , Donald E. Graves

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Book Description

Nov. 15 1999
Hitsman's account of the War of 1812 is regarded by many experts as the best one-volume history of that conflict. It is an engrossing story of the causes of the war and of the campaigns and battles that raged on land and water, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. This new paperback edition, edited by Donald E. Graves, contains the entire text of the original edition and much new material.

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About the Author

Renowned military historian.

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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent Canadian Account March 19 2008
By Roger Kennedy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a serviceable account of the war of 1812 from the British-Canadian perspective. Though lacking the color of some other books on this conflict, most noteably John Elting's "Ameteuers To Arms" the author does not suffer from national bias like many American writers do. The account is straight forward and pretty direct, providing a decent overview of the situation in British North America on the outbreak of war in 1812.

This updated version by Donald Graves, a noted Canadian expert on many of the battles of the war, provides many good maps, pictures, and detailed addenda. In particular the addenda concerning the contemporary and current names of the various British and Canadian regiments that fought in the war provides good supporting background. While the author writes pretty much free of national bias, his main point is that the war in Canada was largely fought and won by British regulars. Popular Canadian perceptions have the militia getting all the credit for repelling the various inept US invasions. This is simply not so. To the British 8th, 41st and 49th regiments of foot, who virtually alone stood on the frontier in 1812 against the Americans, must go the lionshare of credit in preventing Canada's conquest. The author points out that most Canadian militia did little or no fighting, the exception being some of the good fencible units that were raised.

Since this is an older work we don't have all the eulogies for the plight of the Indians under Tecumseh. When Hitsman was writing political correctness had not crept into works like this yet. Tecumseh and his warriors certainly get their mention, but we are not subjected to the great praise that most current works seem required to give. Yes, the great Shawnee Chief was important in defending Canada as well, but it was the daring of Isaac Brock with a handful of British regulars that humbled inept and grandiose American plans in the pivotal first few weeks of the war. The US was fortunate that Brock was lost to the Anglo-Canadians early in the conflict, had he lived longer no dout he would have inflicted other great defeats on the Americans.

Hitsman provides a good general overview of the war, and while his emphasis is Anglo-Canadian we are not left in the dark as to American plans and operations. Where this book differs from most American accounts is in the importance of mentioning the battles of 1814 around Washington and the British defeat at New Orleans. These get some attention, but not as much as one might be accustomed to in most American books on the war. Overall a decent work, and a good starting point from the Anglo-Canadian perspective. Readers might wish to get more of the American side from the numerous other books in print, but in the end they were still come to appreciate this concise work from the opposite side.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 1812 War from Canadian Perspective Aug. 17 2008
By Clay C. Rowe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was a good overview of the War of 1812, a critical piece of American history that, in my experience, has been virtually ignored in the curriculum of American education. The war was critical in that it defined the separation of and the border of Canada and the U.S. I picked this book from among the others on this subject because it was written from the Canadian perspective, and even by a descendant of the commander of the British--Canadian forces during the war. I wanted this Canadian perspective to avoid any "glorification" bias that might be found in an American perspective. What I wanted was as much of an objective account as possible, and I do think that the author is fair in his account and (conversely) not unduly anti-American. Sometimes I felt that I got bogged down with some details, but that may have to do with my purpose in reading the book: namely, to get an overall understanding of the war. I also would have liked to have more maps throughout the text so as to better understand the described events. Overall, I liked the book and learned much from it.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Canada's First War March 27 2008
By Mark Longstroth - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a great book about the American attempt to take Canada. This book is written from the Canadian point of view and concentrates on the War on the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River and New York, especially the Niagara Frontier. The book is even handed in its approach to both sides. The book is well written and has good maps of the different campaign regions and many of the individual battles. The American plan for the conquest of Canada involved a four pronged assault from Detriot, Western New York across the Niagara River, and down the St Lawrence and Richelieu rivers to Montreal and Quebec. The British were able to defeat all these attempts and evened captured the area that would become Michigan. For the next two years the conflict would swing back and forth as each side gained the upper hand and lost it. Since this war was fought by both sides at the edge of the frontier, control of the Great Lakes, the easiest way to move men and material, was paramount. The biggest problem for the British Governor Prevost was how to hold this vast land with a few regements of British regulars and Canadian miltia. Pictures of many of the principles, uniformed soldiersand some of the batles also add to the narative. The author believes that the War of 1812 marked the beginning of a Canadian identity, when they came together as a people against an external foe. I would recommend this book to an serious student of the war of 1812.
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done... Jan. 25 2005
By Carlos N. Velez - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Highly enjoyable, detailed overview of a war which, frankly, I knew very little about. Chapter I describing the "why" of this war is critical.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history!! Jan. 7 2008
By Josh Houff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
One of if not the best book I have read about the War of 1812. I would recommend this book to anyone.

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