Sunday, January 30, 2011

Five books on America at war, 1812

Born and raised in Maine, Alan Taylor teaches American and Canadian history at the University of California, Davis. His books include The Divided Ground, Writing Early American History, American Colonies, and William Cooper’s Town, which won the Bancroft and Pulitzer prizes for American history.

His latest book is The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies.

For the Wall Street Journal, Taylor named a five best list of books about America at war in 1812. One title on the list:
The War of 1812
by Donald R. Hickey (1989)

Most Americans know little about this war, save for a few patriotic icons: the national anthem written about the British bombardment of a Baltimore fort; the naval victories of the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides); the dastardly British burning of the White House; and the revenge taken at New Orleans by Andrew Jackson and his Tennessee riflemen. That selective memory casts the war as a heroic defense of the homeland from British invaders. Donald R. Hickey shows that this "forgotten conflict," as his subtitle has it, began as an American invasion of Canada—which went badly from beginning to end. Canadians, take heart, for Hickey knows that you won the war. But he also knows that you lost the peace treaty, which gave the U.S. a free hand to conquer Canada's Indian allies and protectors. That conquest enabled the Americans to dominate the continent.
Read about the other books on Taylor's list.

--Marshal Zeringue