Synopses & Reviews
In A. J. Langguth's classic Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution, he brought to life leaders from the generation of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson in all of their complexity, with their great strengths and human frailties. In Union 1812, those men appear again, tempered now by age and new responsibilities.
James Madison, the fourth president of the United States, must decide whether to go to war again only thirty years after the American Revolution.
Washington, Adams, and Jefferson had all made major concessions to avoid entangling their young and divided nation in new battles with Europe. But the War Hawks, aggressive congressmen from the South and West, are demanding that Madison take action to uphold America's honor against Great Britain.
In this gripping narrative of the second and final war of independence, Madison leads an unprepared nation into a struggle that will establish the United States as a major world power and stake its claim to the entire continent.
As the war begins, the U.S. Navy consists of seventeen oceangoing ships; the British fleet numbers seven hundred. Nor is the country united in its will to win. Governors in New England are refusing to call out their militia, while mobs attack antiwar newspaper editors in Baltimore in a violent repetition of the Boston Massacre.
Dramatic scenes range across the world, from vicious fighting on the frontier -- one British officer compares the hand-to-hand combat with the savagery of bulldogs -- to Dolley Madison's elegant receptions at the executive mansion and the wrangling among America's peace delegates in Belgium at Ghent.
Before the outcome is decided, the war will haveengulfed land and sea, with a disastrous U.S. defeat at Detroit and epic naval campaigns on the Great Lakes. After the Americans sack Toronto, the British retaliate by burning the White House and the Capitol and laying siege with their rockets to Fort McHenry.
Finally, two and a half years of bloodshed and botched strategies culminate in the spectacular battle of New Orleans.
The heroes of Patriots are joined here by dozens of the most colorful and enduring characters from America's past: not only the diminutive and brilliant Madison and the statuesque Dolley, but also Sam Houston and Davy Crockett, Oliver Perry and Stephen Decatur, the great Shawnee chieftain Tecumseh, and four legendary men who will follow Madison into the White House -- James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Quincy Adams, and the triumphant hero Andrew Jackson.
For too long, the War of 1812 has been ignored or misunderstood. Union 1812 thrillingly illustrates why it must take its place as one of the defining moments in American history.
"Never again after this masterly work will 1812 be a forgotten war. Langguth brilliantly restores the war to its rightful place in American history while at the same time giving us a rousing good story that holds our attention from beginning to end." -- Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals
"Finely written...popular history at its most accessible, full of colorful anecdotes and pithy quotes...Practically brings the War of 1812 to life again...Besides being a good read, Union 1812 allows you to capture the second wave of our founders with a renewed sense of awe and surprise." -- Douglas Brinkley, The Washington Post Book World
"This is the fascinating saga of a war that tested the nation's ability to set aside political differences and survive its inevitable second confrontation with a better-prepared foe eager to avenge earlier defeat. Langguth provides rich historical detail and unforgettable insights into the event and those who assumed leadership during this pivotal period in American history." -- Larry Cox, Tucson Citizen
"We are in Langguth's debt for this vivid retelling of the story of a war that still has everything to do with who we are and how we got this way. Langguth...paints human portraits with skill and grace. Union 1812 is a Plutarchan undertaking, with the larger story of politics and war told through the lives of presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Jackson, the Madisons, and less-known figures such as Zebulon Pike. The book has a lovely narrative pace...Reading Langguth, one is reminded anew of how relevant and resonant the past can be." -- Jon Meacham, Los Angeles Times Book Review
By the author of the acclaimed Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution
, a gripping narrative that tells the story of the second and final war of independence that secured the nation's independence from Europe and established its claim to the entire continent.
The War of 1812 has been ignored or misunderstood. Union 1812 thrillingly illustrates why it must take its place as one of the defining moments in American history.
About the Author
A. J. Langguth, professor emeritus of journalism in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, is the author of nine previous books, including Union: 1812, Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution and Our Vietnam: The War, 1954-1975. He lives in Los Angeles.