Matt's Reviews > Lords of the Lake: The Naval War on Lake Ontario, 1812-1814

Lords of the Lake by Robert Malcomson
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I really want to give this book a 4.5 or 4.8. It is a fantastic book missing only a strong conclusion of why the campaigns on Lake Ontario were "failures" based on combat but successes based on each countries strategic outlook for the war.

The British were not to lose the area then called "Upper Canada" or the Great Lakes region for any reason because if "Upper Canada" was lost then the war and the regions natural resources would be lost. The United States wanted the region to deny timber for the Royal Navy and to gain more land. It was a main strategic goal for the United States. The obvious unstated goal of each was to gain territory without losing any territory. The campaign on Lake Ontario saw each fleet successful and a failure in attaining stated or unstated strategic goals.

How they could be both is what Malcomson details with an amazing level of success. This is a fantastic book about how a fleet is a part of a nation’s policy and how not to make policy based on a lack of knowledge of fleet capabilities/realities and a lack of understanding how to run a joint campaign.

One complaint is throughout the entire book Malcomson has trouble identifying whether participants were American or British. It became confusing to identify which nationality and often left me scrambling to the index to try to figure out the nationality.

The Great Lakes campaigns are not well explored but very important to US History, without Oliver Hazard Perry our Northern border would be further South than it is now and without Thomas MacDonough at the Battle of Plattsburgh the British might have persecuted the War to the United States' detriment since Wellington's experienced veterans were already in place and ready to attack in 1815.

This book is recommended to anyone interested War of 1812 and of course anyone interested in Naval History.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) Matt, this sounds like a really interesting book. I'll look for your review when you've finished! Enjoy! Cheers! Chris

Matt Chris, I have read this book before and enjoyed it a great deal. I'm fifty pages in and remembering why it was such a great book. The illustrations of equipment on board is amazing.

The author went to the U.S.S. Niagra a replica of the original Niagra and they have a small but great museum. My favorite exhibit is the damage from caronnades on a wooden hull. That exhibit alone is worth the admission price. I admire Oliver Hazard Perry and the museum is deidcated to him. The other high points were how the smaller square rigged ships had lines to get to the tops and how dark the berth areas for officer were. If you ever find yourself in Erie PA the museum and the Niagra are worth going to see.

I'll let you know what I thought when I am done.


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