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

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  411 ratings  ·  78 reviews
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 deter ...more
Hardcover, 623 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2010)
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The Civil War of 1812 by Alan Taylor1812 by Walter R. Borneman1812 by Jon LatimerThe War of 1812 by Donald R. HickeyThe Invasion of Canada by Pierre Berton
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,176)
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Matt
Every evening, I go to sleep secure in the knowledge that Canada is right above us, like a big, fuzzy, funnily-accented nightcap. Down south, America’s demand for drugs has turned Mexico into a near-failed state. There are assassinations and kidnappings and shootouts; drugs and guns and humans pass back and forth, despite all the walls and guards we put there. It’s a truly scary place.

Our border with Canada is different. It is the longest undefended border on earth. The only things that come fr
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David Fox
The Forgotten War

I sought out Taylor's historical analysis in my quest to learn something about the War of 1812. Other than knowing that the "Star Spangled Banner" was penned during this conflict I was largely ignorant of the events & causes surrounding this renewed conflict between ourselves & Great Britain. One caveat: if you read this book with the hope of gaining a comprehensive overview of the entire war, then this is not the book for you. The title clearly communicates that the pur
...more
Lauren Albert
When the British navy began to stop American ships, both merchant and navy, and impress naturalized American sailors under the belief that once a British subject, always a British subject, the American government sent ships to fight, right? Of course not. They invaded Canada. ???

You see, the Americans had no real navy so in order to punish the British, they needed to start a land war. The War of 1812 was an odd one in more ways than this and would be laughable if it were not for the many real li
...more
Jerome
In the years before the War of 1812, British policy in Canada encouraged American migration to its more underpopulated provinces, as Britain actively sought to create an alternate vision of North America that would appeal to residents in what many thought would be a short-lived republican experiment in the United States. Britain offered free land to American settlers of Upper Canada, but offered a more restricted press and more tightly controlled government. When war came, many of the newest set ...more
William Thomas
I can only imagine the years around the Napoleonic War. There you are, an Irishman, sitting in a pub in a port. You get sloppy drunk because some sailors were buying the rounds. You step outside to take a leak, get bopped on the head with a sap and the next thing you know, you wake up in the middle of the Atlantic ocean with a headache, now a part of the British navy. Against your will, you're a soldier trapped at sea.

The War of 1812 is one of the most overlooked periods in American history. It
...more
Martin
I struggled over whether to give this three or four stars. The writing is excellent and the research is exhaustive and impressive. This book is not a full picture of the War of 1812; it alludes to (but does not explore in depth) most naval battles, the southern theater of war (Andrew Jackson and various Native American wars) or the Napoleonic Wars. I did eventually need to consult wikipedia in order to grasp the full picture. However, I greatly enjoyed the book's point of view that the war settl ...more
Matt
As others have written, this book is not meant to be a comprehensive history of the War of 1812 (though it is thoroughly documented while remaining readable). Instead, it advances a particular thesis that focuses upon the fact that, at the time, the U.S. and Canada reflected roughly similar population groups but were divided ideologically between the citizenship in the republic of the U.S. and the Britain's idea of people as permanent subjects. In other words, can people choose their country of ...more
John
A book about the War of 1812 which is very specific about which parts of the war to cover. I liked that about this book. I thought I was getting a book about the whole war, but I discovered that I didn't want that. Forget about all the boat stuff, it is rather boring. Taylor is concentrating here on invasions, raids, spies across the Niagara River, people defecting from one country to the other and back again, all kinds of juicy material.
The main thesis here is (as the title would indicate) tha
...more
David R.
Students are generally taught that the now-obscure War of 1812 was a clearly deliniated conflict between the young United States and the British Empire, if not a Second American Revolution. But as Professor Taylor points out, it was much more complex than that. His work examines the many external and internal divisions and such blocs as pro-British Americans, pro-American (pro-Republican) Canadians, American emigrants to Upper Canada, Native Americans on both sides, Irish immigrants on both side ...more
Bruce
This is the best book I have yet read on the War of 1812. I have always found this conflict fascinating, especially as my ancestors were United Empire Loyalists (General Brock died on my multi-great grandfather's farm). Unlike other volumes that cover the subject, focusing primarily on the battles, this author digs deep and clearly presents the reasons why Canada and the US evolved the way they did, beginning with the fallout from the Revolutionary War. There is a lot of excellent, well research ...more
William
A fascinating story about one of the most forgotten of wars. Taylor is admirable in especially detailing the underlying issues of the conflict, how it turned on differing conceptions of freedom. Is freedom to be ordered, per the English model? or is it a form of liberty of the individual as the Americans would have it?

A second great feature is the detailing of the British strategic objectives, again something usually overlooked in most American histories.

Likewise, Taylor ably presents the inte
...more
Tom
Every year, a little south of London, Ontario, military re-enacters act out the Battle of the Thames in which William Henry Harrison led American troops in a defeat of the British forces during which the legendary Indian chief, Tecumseh died. Harrison's troops' battle cry was "Remember the Raisin" (not the fruit silly,...the River). The River Raisin is not far from where my ancestor, Daniel Freeman had a farm in the Michigan territory (it wouldn't become a state until later). At the battle on th ...more
Iain
Alan Taylor's "The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies" is not just another history of the war but an intricate analysis of the myriad of identities that fought. Not merely, Britain and American interests there were many more sub layers. The immigrants that poured into North America made many people dual in their nature, an Irish, German, French, Dutch, etc along with identifying as an American and for the first time, the Canadian identify em ...more
Margaret Skrivseth
Allen Taylor is one of my favorite contemporary historians. This book continues his style of making historical events easy to relate to.

The War of 1812 is often overlooked. The causes leading up to it were a lot more involved than I had realized. Taylor explains the principal parties and the reasons and actions that ultimately lead to the conflict.

Chris Higgins
I enjoyed reading this book. I gave it only 3 stars because at times it simply bogged down and became difficult to read. Had I not been a huge history buff who felt my understanding of the War of 1812 was a bit on the weak side, I would have stopped partway through. It was worth wading through. It helped put the War in perspective. It addresses how the American dream of Manifest Destiny excluded Canada simply because our troops did a bit too much pillaging and looting when they took the battles ...more
Madeleine McLaughlin
The real story of the war of 1812, probably the most little known war of North America, at least between white powers. Engaging, with a lot of interesting details into the soldiers lives, it's like you're right there. Makes you totally re-think your opinion of the war, especially who won and who lost.
Jim
The War of 1812 is the overlooked war, often not given more than a passing mention in any foundational course on American History, and little remembered in our collective memory. If it is remembered at all it is for the one permanent fixture of American life that almost everyone knows (or at least pretends to know) – The Star Spangled Banner. It’s obscurity is understandable, after all it is sandwiched between two far more significant conflicts, the American Revolution and the Civil War, it didn ...more
Steve Harrvey
This book covers something most of us know nothing about -- how the War of 1812 was, in fact a civil war, and how it defined the relationships between Americans and Native Americans, between the US and Canada, and between the US and Britain from then until today. I found the book very interesting, but it's a heavy read, and I found it fairly disorganized, and with a bit too much detail. I'm glad I stuck it out, because of what I learned. I summarize that here, in case you're interested. If, like ...more
Marilyn Getts
Not what you heard in history class, probably because it wasn't that complementary to the Americans. The author makes a good case for the War of 1812 being more of a civil war than an invasion by those wretched British redcoats.
Cory
Our pick for the fall semester 2012 Book of the Semester at BYU's David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies, commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812.
Rob
I now have a much better understanding of why the war of 1812 happened. Also, this book puts a much more human, everyday face on those who fought in the war.
Tom
Saw the PBS "War of 1812" and decided to pick this one out of the pile. So far, so good. Taylor authors another great book on the "old" northwest.
Smuhlberger
Very good on Upper Canada.

Shocking depiction of a Nasty little war, where people wre all too ready to a attack their neighbors.
Paddy
Something to remind you that while it may have been 200 years, "celebration" is not the right way to mark the anniversary
Andy
So, maybe the US wasn't so good at fighting wars as we think. And maaaaybe, we aren't quite so fearless. Taylor's "The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies" is by far the most telling book I've ever read on this forgotten war that forged national identities for both Canada and the United States.

The author doesn't go into great depth on the battles - Perry's victory on Lake Erie, the British punishment raids along the Eastern seaboard, and Jack
...more
Alex
Terrific! Gave me a new perspective on the War of 1812.
Mike
Very authentic and well researched work.
Hélène
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aaron
This book is not a traditional history of the War of 1812. Where a traditional history might take a more chronological approach to the conflict and focus more on particular battles, this book takes a different approach. Here, the focus is on the author's thesis that the War of 1812 was really a continuation of the American war of Revolution, with the Canadians seen initially as possible partners, once they overthrew (or let the American forces overthrow) the shackles of the Imperial government o ...more
Mikey
i have just started this book, but would like to make one comment right away. This book is by far the worst edition in my library with maybe the exception of two other Knopf Publishing volumes I own. If I ever buy another Knopf book, please take me out back and shoot me. The paper, the print, the binding, it all sucks. The only reason I will finish it is because I really want to explore this war that i know nothing about and find the premise intriguing....Taylor seems to be a competent author. i ...more
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Alan Shaw Taylor is a historian specializing in early American history. He is the author of a number of books about colonial America, the American Revolution, and the Early American Republic. He has won a Pulitzer Prize and the Bancroft Prize for his work.

Taylor graduated from Colby College, in Waterville, Maine, in 1977 and earned his Ph.D. from Brandeis University in 1986. Currently a professor
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More about Alan Taylor...
American Colonies: The Settling of North America William Cooper's Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 The Divided Ground: Indians, Settlers, and the Northern Borderland of the American Revolution Colonial America: A Very Short Introduction

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