The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, and Indian Allies

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Alfred A. Knopf, 2010 - History - 620 pages
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.
 

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User Review  - RobertP - LibraryThing

Excellent review of war, from a series of interesting angles. First, not a battle book. Second, local politics, both sides, not so much national, although that is there too. Third, sociological ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - rivkat - LibraryThing

A chronicle of the War of 1812’s northern front, featuring plenty of ego and incompetence on both sides though the US comes off worse in planning/discipline respects while Britain wins on sheer ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
3
LOYALISTS
15
SIMCOE
45
UNITED IRISHMEN
75
DESERTERS
101
CROSSINGS
175
SCALPS
203
FLAMES 2 35
235
TRAITORS
295
SOLDIERS 519
319
PRISONERs
353
HONOR
381
Notes
459
1
571
Acknowledgments
601
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Born and raised in Maine, Alan Taylor teaches American and Canadian history at the University of California, Davis. His previous 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. He also serves as a contributing editor to The New Republic.

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