The Civil War of 1812

The Civil War of 1812

American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, and Indian Allies

Book - 2010
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In this deeply researched and clearly written book, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Alan Taylor tells the riveting story of a war that redefined North America. During the early nineteenth century, Britons and Americans renewed their struggle over the legacy of the American Revolution. Soldiers, immigrants, settlers, and Indians fought in a northern borderland to determine the fate of a continent. Would revolutionary republicanism sweep the British from Canada? Or would the British empire contain, divide, and ruin the shaky American republic?

In a world of double identities, slippery allegiances, and porous boundaries, the leaders of the republic and of the empire struggled to control their own diverse peoples. The border divided Americans--former Loyalists and Patriots--who fought on both sides in the new war, as did native peoples defending their homelands. Serving in both armies, Irish immigrants battled one another, reaping charges of rebellion and treason. And dissident Americans flirted with secession while aiding the British as smugglers and spies.

During the war, both sides struggled to sustain armies in a northern land of immense forests, vast lakes, and stark seasonal swings in the weather. In that environment, many soldiers panicked as they fought their own vivid imaginations, which cast Indians as bloodthirsty savages. After fighting each other to a standstill, the Americans and the British concluded that they could safely share the continent along a border that favored the United States at the expense of Canadians and Indians. Both sides then celebrated victory by forgetting their losses and by betraying the native peoples.

A vivid narrative of an often brutal (and sometimes comic) war that reveals much about the tangled origins of the United States and Canada.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, c2010
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781400042654
Branch Call Number: 973.52 TAY 2010 22
Characteristics: vii, 620 p. : ill., map

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Norman C. Smith
Dec 08, 2011

This is a well-written and well-balanced history of the War of 1812, dealing primarily with the war in Upper Canada. The author's thesis is that the war was essentially a civil war because the people on all sides were divided by the war. He identifies at least three sides - British, American, and native - with the natives being the one unequivally losing side in the conflict.

Though Taylor is an American author, he writes about the origins of Upper Canada with a great deal of insight, perhaps being able to see the forest more clearly for not beeing within it.

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