Josh Liller's Reviews > Patriotic Fire: Andrew Jackson and Jean Laffite at the Battle of New Orleans

Patriotic Fire by Winston Groom
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's review
May 03, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: war-of-1812, military, american-history
Read from June 06 to 10, 2012

I both loved and hated this book. It has some of the same flaws as Groom's other non-fiction books that I have read: a general history written for a non-scholarly audience, he eschews citations and includes too many fluffy footnotes. It also mostly shows Groom's skill as an author.

What hinders this book more than Groom's usual work are many instances of repetition (some nearly verbatim) and a number of mistakes. Groom admits many details of the battle are contradicted by different sources and perhaps the topic was too murky to be handled by a non-scholar. But the first 50 pages or so of the book are a shoddy overview of the rest of the War of 1812 and there are some flat out errors like claiming that Thomas ap Catesby Jones (Lake Borgne gunboat commander, 1814) went on to command the CSS Virginia in the Civil War in 1862 (actually that was Catesby ap Roger Jones). That's the kind of error that makes me concerned about what other mistakes were made I didn't notice.
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Carl Nelson Well-said. I felt that Groom tended to choose readability over accuracy. The rest of the book flowed so well, and it was jarring when Groom reproduced another historian's conclusions in long quotations, or touched on only one side of a scholarly debate. I liked Groom's opinion when he voices it (such as his convincing argument that Lafitte's contributions turned the tide of battle), so it was very curious that he didn't use it more often.

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