Remembering The War of 1812: Five Books You Should Read about the War of 1812 suggested by Dr. Marshall Bastable.
Dr. Bastable teaches for the History Department at the University of Windsor. He has taught about wars and revolutions at universities in Canada and the United States. He finds The War of 1812 particularly interesting for how it is remembered.
Bicentennial commemorations of the War of 1812 are underway in Canada and the United States. This summer will see military re-enactments, warships and tall ships visits, plaques unveiled and commemorative ceremonies and events held. But remembering and commemorating this long-ago war can be tricky. Much attention is given to which side won, but there are other important questions too. How did the various people at the time see the war? Was it a popular war? Was it a civil war? Was it glorious or a war full of terrible suffering and atrocities? How should we of 2012 remember the War of 1812? The War of 1812 was a turning point in Canadian, American and First Nations histories. Yet, like our recent war in Afghanistan, assessing the War of 1812 and deciding how to remember and commemorate it is a problem. The books recommended here are chosen to help us make those judgments. They also show how fascinating and important the War of 1812 remains.
Click here to read Dr. Bastable’s Overview of the War of 1812
Donald R. Hickey, Don’t Give Up the Ship! Myths of the War of 1812
Hickey aims to dispel many myths, misconceptions and misunderstandings about different aspects of the war and how it is remembered. Much of the book answers specific questions, in a format which allows readers to open the book at any page. The questions range from the trivial (Did Brock have a fiancée?) to the interesting (Why did the British burn Washington? Is the role of Laura Secord exaggerated? What are the true origins of the Star Spangled Banner? Who were the most hated men in the war? ) to the weighty (Who were the real War Hawks? How decisive was the Battle of the Thames? Who were the best generals? Is Tecumseh over-rated? Did the Canadian militia save Canada/Did the American militia save the United States?) This is an entertaining and thought-provoking book on the myths and memories of The War of 1812.
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Donald Graves, Field of Glory; The Battle of Crysler’s Farm, 1813 is a fast-paced battle-field narrative of a crucial battle in the war in which the British defeated a much larger American force on the move towards Montreal. This victory kept the St. Laurence River open to British transportation and ended any American hopes of winning the war. Graves tells a gripping story with lots of fighting and heroes.
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In The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels and Indian Allies, Alan Taylor argues that the United States invaded Canada to save itself from bitter internal partisanship on the one hand, and to defend the young and fragile Republic from the perceived ambition of imperial Britain to destroy it on the other hand. Taylor calls it a civil war in that it created new tensions and exacerbated old ones in American society: between Patriots from Loyalists, Irish Americans and Irish soldiers serving in the British army, the anti-war north eastern America and the pro-war west and the south.
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George Sheppard, Plunder, Profit and Paroles: A Social History of the War of 1812 in Upper Canada is a ground-breaking revision of the war. Sheppard shows how deeply divided the population of Upper Canada was before the war and how very unpopular the war was amongst Upper Canadians. He takes the reader as close as possible to the terrible social and economic impact of the war on ordinary Upper Canadians. The memory of the War of 1812 as a glorious war of national unity, of heroic acts and mythical battles was imposed upon that conflict long after it had come to an end.
Leddy FC 442 S54 and Electronic
R. David Edmunds, Tecumseh and the Quest for Indian Leadership takes the reader into the world of First Nations and the failed efforts of Tecumseh to forge a confederation ofall the tribes to defend their land and culture against the incursions of the land-hungry and expansionist-minded Americans. Edmunds combines and good story with a realistic analysis of Tecumseh’s struggles to create an Indian confederation state. Fist Nations warriors proved essential in the successful defence of Upper Canada during the war, but were unable to create their own state when peace came.
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