Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Dawn's Early Light” as Want to Read:
The Dawn's Early Light
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Dawn's Early Light (Johns Hopkins Books on the War of 1812)

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  206 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
It took more than a revolution to win true independence: The story of the War of 1812, the United State’s second war on England, by a New York Times–bestselling historian.

At the dawn of the nineteenth century, the great powers of Western Europe treated the United States like a disobedient child. Great Britain blocked American trade, seized its vessels, and impressed its
ebook, 400 pages
Published March 6th 2012 by Open Road Media (first published 1972)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Dawn's Early Light, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Dawn's Early Light

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
History, in the arms of a master storyteller, comes alive and takes you back in time. The Dawn's Early Light does this in 4 Star fashion, recalling the last half of 1814, the darkest for the young United States and promising easy victory for the most powerful empire in the world, vanquisher of Napoleon. Wellington’s Invincibles are on their way to “chastise Jonathon”, the dismissive British name for all Americans. Although the young and inexperienced US Navy has scored some early wins in this wa ...more
'Aussie Rick'

This book is the first I have read concerning the War of 1812. In this book the author covers the period from August 1814 with the British marching onto Washington. Walter Lord offers a spendid account of the fighting at Bladensburg, the burning of Washington and the subsequent campaign against the British. The use of first hand account offers a splendid insight into the people, soldiers, sailors and politicians caught up during this period of history. A well researched and finely told account o
Sep 19, 2013 Jerome rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In telling his story, Lord’s work is clearly not intended to be a formal study because analysis and thesis is generally eschewed. Lord uses his considerable skills to tell a compelling tale by weaving together often trivial historical detail into an understandable and engaging narrative accessible to a lay reader. Compelling and often riveting, The Dawn’s Early Light employs a journalistic style that imparts facts while retaining a sense of sensationalism and dramatic color. The lack of analysis ...more
Paul Haspel
Walter Lord's The Dawn's Early Light is an energetic and well-written recounting of the Washington and Baltimore campaigns from the War of 1812. Lord, a Baltimore journalist and writer (best known for A Night to Remember, his book about the ill-fated voyage of R.M.S. Titanic), deploys his you-are-there approach to history effectively, capturing well the Americans' despair at the burning of Washington, D.C., as well as American pride at Baltimoreans' heroic and successful defense of Fort McHenry. ...more
Mar 01, 2013 Mimi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book at the gift shop at Fort McHenry in 2011 and just got around to reading it. It is a non-fiction about the battle at Fort McHenry in 1814, the general aspect of the War of 1812, wrapping up with the Battle of New Orleans. I laughed out loud in many places from the dry wit and irony of the complete lack of discipline, the bad luck, the plain stupidity of both sides at times. God must have wanted the US to be a country because based on all the dumb things we did as well as the ar ...more
John Harder
The Dawn’s Early Light is an in depth analysis of the battle for Washington during the war of 1812. To a lesser extent it also delves into the battle for New Orleans and the Treaty of Ghent. Prose and story trip right along for the first 100 pages – than something happens. Perhaps it is just my extraordinarily low I.Q. on show again, but the minutia of troop movements gets a bit old. I think an in depth look at a few individuals (including a better of understanding of their personalities) would ...more
Oct 28, 2008 Mahlon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dedicated Walter Lord fans only
Shelves: read-2008
Until very recently this was THE book to read on The War of 1812, given the publication of several new works on the subject, this may no longer be the case, but for my money, there's no better storyteller than Walter Lord. That said, this is not one of his best works, but it's still a worthwhile read, especially for dedicated fans. His prose is most effective when he's describing the actual battles, his minute-by minute account of the burning of Washington is the highlight of the book. The non-c ...more
I read this a year ago and can't remember much (sad, but true). It was a good education in the War od 1812. I do remember wishing there had been just a bit more about Francis Scott Key and "The Star-Spangled Banner," given the title of the book.
Apr 14, 2016 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The Americans always cheat us.” Henry Goulburn, British peace negotiator in Paris

Enjoyable and readable popular history of the last year of the War of 1812. Takes the reader into the hearts and minds of the participants. Jumps back and forth between the sides, magnifying the crossed purposes and misinformation each side labored under.

“In the end it was not British skill but American ineptitude that settled the matter.”

Minutely researched but reads like fiction. Lacks detailed references, so mor
Apr 17, 2016 Keith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book starts a bit slow, but picks up speed and proves to be an entertaining history of the British campaign against Washington and Baltimore during August 1814. Oddly, the book chooses then to cover the peace negotiations and the Battle of New Orleans. These, particularly the battle, seem kind of tagged on at the end. The book doesn’t cover other battlefronts during the war.

By the end of the book, the reader is well acquainted with the key players on both side. Plus it features dozens of vi
Craig Adamson
Feb 14, 2016 Craig Adamson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
yet another Shelfari review "lost" to the ages. Have "rated" this book 4 times in the last 20 seconds while trying to write this review, and this is the first time the 'stars' seem to be "saved" for my review. I may have to find another way to collect and preserve my book reviews as this is a major.

The book details the battles in the War of 1812 and the eventual 2nd "emancipation" from the British. I had wrongly assumed this would be about the writing of the National Anthem. In fact, this book b
I stopped in to see Ft Mchenry last year after promising to do so for 30 years. Impressive and highly recommended. I asked the park ranger what was the best book to get an overview of the battle and this is how I came to read this book. It covers more than the battle in Baltimore. For good measure, it covers the burning of Washington D.C. and the British journey to New Orleans where they got their buts kicked but good in a battle fought after the peace treaty had been signed. This book is well w ...more
May 23, 2010 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
This is a very clear book about a very confusing time in American history, the War of 1812. While the story covers some of the strategic aspects of the war, its real focus is on the events in the Washington/Baltimore area during the events leading up to Frances Scott Key composing what is now called The Star Spangled Banner. The details make much more sense to me now than when I was first learning them in school. The burning of the original Library of Congress is seen in its full context, both i ...more
Walter Lord, like McCullough and Stephen Ambrose, can make history read like a novel...a war that grows out of the native-American threat, expansion, and freedom of the seas...a remarkable story of a woefully unprepared US tackling the preeminent world power of the day as told from both sides...the focus is on the Chesapeake and New Orleans campaigns...short shrift is given to the war in the West and and the invasion from Canada...the political can-of-worms, that is war, is portrayed quite well ...more
Sep 02, 2013 Riley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never read any detail of this war, so learned a lot. It did get bogged down in troop movement detail at times. The convoluted personal scheming and rivalries sent my head spinning, but the overall story was revealing of the mixed motives and disorganization on both sides.
Garth Moore
May 25, 2014 Garth Moore rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-social
Frankly, I've never paid attention to the the War of 1812. Now that I live in the DC/Baltimore area, I wanted to find out more about the war and the burning of DC. This is a really good read and will give you all you need to know about the battles in this area, the British shelling at Ft McHenry, and how it was the folks in DC, not the British, who burned the place to the ground.
Jack  Owen
Aug 17, 2015 Jack Owen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Prime source of entertaining and historical data on a longtime nautical hero, the American sailor David Porter - David Glasgow Farragut's step-father. Been a permanent resident of my bookshelf since the early 1980's.
Aug 29, 2010 Osborneinri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent account of a forgotten war -- the War of 1812 and America's improbable victory. (In most wars, when the enemy captures your capital and burns it down, you tend to lose. And yet, we still won.)
Nov 08, 2007 Eldon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's a little slow getting started, and I therefore am still in the beginning. We'll see if it improves.
Jul 29, 2016 Lawrence rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A fine look at the War of 1812 and few Americans know much it. This book is a good and readable way to learn about it.
Jan 24, 2015 Lars rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not really well written, and really slow in its storytelling. Also it fails to explain the history to the uninitiated reader. Booring.
Jeff Jackson
Jeff Jackson rated it really liked it
Mar 19, 2012
Italianfoodie rated it it was amazing
May 13, 2016
Andrew rated it liked it
Nov 17, 2014
Paul Hasbrouck
Paul Hasbrouck rated it really liked it
Nov 16, 2015
Andrew rated it really liked it
Feb 15, 2016
Joyce Oliver stahle
Joyce Oliver stahle rated it liked it
Oct 26, 2014
Chesshistorian rated it really liked it
Mar 15, 2008
AndyS rated it really liked it
Oct 09, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Civil War: Strange & Fascinating Facts
  • Presidential Campaigns: From George Washington to George W. Bush
  • The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict
  • Washington Goes to War
  • Inside the Company: CIA Diary
  • At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends
  • Edith Kermit Roosevelt: Portrait of a First Lady
  • On Witchcraft
  • Letters of a Nation
  • Family of Spies
  • First Great Triumph
  • The Siege of Washington: The Untold Story of the Twelve Days That Shook the Union
  • Marriage to a Difficult Man: The Uncommon Union of Jonathan & Sarah Edwards
  • Under Fire: An American Story - The Explosive Autobiography of Oliver North
  • Fighter Wing: A Guided Tour of an Air Force Combat Wing (Guided Tour)
  • Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA 1981-1987
  • The Portable Thomas Jefferson
  • The Crisis of the Old Order 1919-33 (The Age of Roosevelt, Vol 1)
Walter Lord was an American author, best known for his documentary-style non-fiction account, A Night to Remember, about the sinking of the RMS Titanic.

In 2009, Jenny Lawrence edited and published The Way It Was: Walter Lord on His Life and Books.
More about Walter Lord...

Other Books in the Series

Johns Hopkins Books on the War of 1812 (7 books)
  • Flotilla: The Patuxent Naval Campaign in the War of 1812
  • Native Memoirs from the War of 1812: Black Hawk and William Apess
  • The Rockets' Red Glare: An Illustrated History of the War of 1812
  • A Travel Guide to the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake: Eighteen Tours in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia
  • William Henry Harrison and the Conquest of the Ohio Country: Frontier Fighting in the War of 1812
  • Privateering: Patriots and Profits in the War of 1812

Share This Book

“An almost eerie quiet hung over Washington; it had been that way ever since the British left. Pennsylvania Avenue stood broad and empty, with Joe Gales’s type still scattered over the 7th Street intersection. General Ross’s horse still lay, legs stiff in death, outside the ruins of Robert Sewall’s house. The rubble of the Capitol still smoldered quietly in the sun.” 0 likes
More quotes…