- Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: Anchor Canada; 1 edition (Aug. 14 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385658389
- ISBN-13: 978-0385658386
- Product Dimensions: 15.1 x 3.2 x 22.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 522 g
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #225,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Flames Across the Border: 1813-1814 Paperback – Aug 14 2001
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An engrossing popular history that reads like a fast-paced novel, Flames Across the Border is Berton's second book on the War of 1812. The first, The Invasion of Canada, covered the first part of this war that accomplished little for either side but re-established the line between a fledgling American nation and the British colony to its north. Rather than pile fact upon dull fact, Berton captures the reader's interest by telling the story from the point of view of its players--dozens of soldiers, commanders, politicians, and civilians who took part in the planning, battles, and diplomacy of the war are heard from in their own words. Berton's character descriptions are excellent, and his ability to place the reader in the midst of battle is incomparable. His account of the naval battle of Lake Erie is particularly engaging and extraordinarily gruesome. Throughout, the book is rich with detail: a gentleman soldier sits down to a meal of "tough steak of half-cooked beef, a piece of dry bread, a mug of tea made from sassafras root, sweetened with sap from the sugar maple."
By the end of the war, its major causes--the impressment of British deserters from U.S. ships, and the blockade of Europe--were rendered irrelevant by the final defeat of Napoleon. This development freed up the all-powerful British navy and tens of thousands of experienced British troops, who promptly attacked and burned Washington, D.C. Despite thousands of dead, the astounding incompetence of most leaders, and three years of fighting, the war accomplished nothing for either side. Nevertheless, this history of ineptitude and vanity makes for fascinating reading. --Mark Frutkin
"If history could be taught in the schools the way Berton writes about it, there wouldn't be a more popular subject on the curriculum."
—The Globe and Mail
"Berton has the storyteller's gift, the novelist's insight, the journalist's easy style and the historian's sense of time…He writes history as it should be written."
"With the vividness of eyewitness reporting, Berton brings us the heroes and heroines of this 'bloody and senseless' conflict, as well as the cowards, the incompetents, and the eccentrics."
"Berton's style is bold, alive and engrossing. We smell the powder, look with horror on ravaged bodies and share the tragedy of those victimized by the conflict."
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