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The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  428 ratings  ·  49 reviews
The first comprehensive history of the War of 1812 since Henry Adams's work of a century ago is a myth-shattering study that will inform and entertain students, historians, and general readers. Donald R. Hickey explores the military, diplomatic, and domestic history of our second war with Great Britain. He explains how the conflict promoted American nationalism and manifes ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published October 1st 1990 by University of Illinois Press (first published 1989)
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BAM The Bibliomaniac
What an extraordinary book! The author did a superior job researching every category of life during the War of 1812-military, social, political, fiscal. Momentous achievement considering this is probably the least documented war, the least popular, the least well-known.
I wanted a book that could teach me what I never learned in school and walked away feeling like I didn't retain half of the information included. I think I may buy this book instead of using the library copy.
May 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Like all nations, Americans remember the parts of our history that we want to remember, the stuff that makes us look like we’re number one. Because there was very little to want to remember about the War of 1812, we chose to forget most of it.

Hickey covers all aspects of this conflict, at least from the American side. He begins with the disputes which led to the conflict. The divisions within the United States, both geographical and political, receive good treatment.The war created a division be
Rob Kranski
Aug 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
A great example of someone who has made an industry out of a single book.

This was good for its time, but decades of scholarship have passed and it's well past its prime. The "new" edition released for 2012 is essentially the same thing as are most of the other books written on the War of 1812 by Hickey--lots of dramatic prose and anecdotes, very American-centric, and very elite white male.
Aug 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
Guns, ships, facts, figures and little else. Where are the Canadians in this? Where are the Native Americans? Where are the women? Where are the African slaves? The idea that war is simple about movements on a battlefield is long since past; the homefront, public opinion, the social history of it all matters (well, at least to good historians interested in telling a "complete" history of a conflict).

I'm OK with books just being about battles, so long as they are honest about it--"a naval history
Jan 23, 2009 rated it did not like it
There is no story to this book. It is just a list of troop sizes and how many guns per ship. Like reading a high school term paper. The only interesting part was the detailed description of The Battle of New Orleans.
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2018
The War of 1812 is written about a time period that has largely been forgotten. It was an important time in our nation's history and Donald Hickey does an excellent job in exploring the ins and outs of a period of time that, while largely forgotten, was crucial to the development of our nation. An excellent read.
Mike H
Oct 03, 2011 rated it liked it
I’m fascinated by the War of 1812. Partially because I get really into naval battles, and this had plenty of ‘em. but beyond that, it’s quite possibly the weirdest war in our history. The main reason for starting the war was solved before the war began, and the most important battle was fought after the peace treaty was signed. Our nation’s capitol was burned to the ground in the process, and the conflict was so divisive that New England came within a hair’s breadth of seceding.

Donald Hickey’s b
Jun 13, 2012 rated it liked it
There are certain things which everyone should be able to do in life, and one of them is to be able to explain the causes and effects of the War of 1812. This book will help you accomplish that milestone. Imagine yourself the life of the party, spinning yarns about how Dolly Madison saved the sheet music for America the Beautiful by secreting it in her petticoats while the British burned down the White House. Of course that's not what really happened. However, if you read this book you will know ...more
Jay Perkins
A really good political and military history of the War of 1812. There are a few places that the book kind of drags, but Hickey offers a lot of information on the debates in Congress, issues within the administration, and economic challenges. If you supplement it with books like Alan Taylor's "The Civil War of 1812" and "The Internal Enemy", you will cover a lot of ground and a good understanding of the conflict.
Oct 26, 2010 rated it liked it
It was a well researched and interesting book full of details that only a true 1812 history buff would appreciate - which excluded me. I did find it educational as a window into American life and thought and as a follow up to "1776."
Aug 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book. The author takes the reader into the conflict to include the political and economic aspects. The major battles are talked about but not concentrated on. Minor battles are also mentioned and discussed. One of the best well rounded books on any conflict I've read.
Aug 14, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a prosaic but detailed history of this war. It is in the old tradition of just listing the facts with little analysis in a dry fashion: this is a perfect test book, in other words. I learned a huge amount about this war, but the book was a bit of a chore with no color and little analysis.
Nov 05, 2019 rated it did not like it
Had to read this for class. Outdated compared to the other books assigned. Chapter on the Baltimore riots was kind of interesting, but the writing style is too dull. Felt like I was being lectured at.
Bob Lynch
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it
A forgotten conflict indeed!

The War of 1812 is an early 19th century landmark event. It's useful in understanding the politics, economics & international dynamics of the period. It's amazing how much of this shit-storm correlates to the present. I'm skiing my way through US history one biography and war at time.

This war is like washing your car...then having 37 diarrhea vultures poo bomb it 5 minutes later. Except the war has dead people and violence. Both sides win rounds. Land battles. Sea bat
M. Gary Berg
Jan 26, 2020 rated it liked it
⭐️⭐️⭐️ Interesting account of a war that history says nobody won. War of 1812 is compared by some to the Vietnam War via it being mostly unpopular but vigorously fought politically. (Note: the Star Spangled Banner national song was born around the battle of Baltimore). The US was forever changed militarily, economically, politically, as well as our relationship with Britain as a result of the War of 1812 😨
Kevin Shaw
Sep 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Lots of statistics, sometimes overwhelming info on a particular battle. I would have enjoyed more anecdotal material and the cause/effect ramifications of this little-known war. But I am glad I read it. It was the last war where Indians had any leverage, and the war where Canada burned down the White House!
William Sariego
May 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This is a solid historical work on a mostly obscure conflict. Hickey goes into great detail on both the military campaigns and the political and social aspects of the war. The downside? His writing style is quite dry and academic. When people whine that history is boring, they could point to this as an example.
Stephen P
A better than average overview of the War of 1812, which is sparsely covered in mainstream historical literature. A good book to give you an overview of the war for those that are interested in understanding the conflict without getting bogged down in too many details.
Captain Steve
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
A useful start to the subject, but memorable only because it was the only comprehensive history of the subject for so long. It's flaws have been shown now that other historians have applied more rigorous analysis and thought.
Rob Markley
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, napoleonic
Excellent history of a small war with balanced and insightful analysis
Jan 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
A reasonable discussion of this war, well documented and not too long or detailed.
Lawson Pace
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Needs more maps.
Michael Brantley
Jun 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent overall history of the War of 1812. Gives a good overall picture of action, politics, results, impact. Highly recommend.
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 1800s
It could be argued that the sign of a good non-fiction is that, by the end, you’re captivated by a plethora of questions that would never have occurred to you beforehand. In this case, my exposure to the War of 1812 had been limited to a few naval battles featured in the historical fiction Aubrey-Maturin series. Having now read this history, I’m struck by parallels between the War of 1812 and the 21st century Iraq War – the heated barely justifiable rush to war, the ad hominem attacks against wa ...more
Feb 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a good starter book on The War of 1812. It went into more detail regarding the political side of the war, which was very good and interesting, but it just glossed over the actual battles and maneuvers of the armies and navies. It's a good jumping off point - if any of the battles interested you I'm sure you could find another book that would go into more detail about it. I didn't really care for the separated sections of each chapter. It just made it seem more like a textbook than a boo ...more
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent analysis of an otherwise lost moment in our history. Political, economic, military, and cultural impacts are discussed, if not thoroughly then at least adequately, although most areas are comprehensive. This writing is a terrific jumping off point to a deeper understanding of the policies and the personalitys driving the policies that determined the events of 1812.
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book was written in a very scholarly style which made it a slow read. The author emphasized the political wranglings of the time between the Federalists and Republicans and punctuated these with brief tales of various battles thrown in. I would have liked to have read more about the military engagements and less about whether James Madison was a good wartime President or not. Professor Hickey may be a bit "revisionist" in his conclusions as to the motives and success of the war. He conclude ...more
Heather Truckenmiller
Mar 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
This is probably the most in depth history of the war ever written, and it took me months to get through it. It was like reading a text book. I learned about politics, presidential elections, and all sorts of side issues that effected the war - but after all of that, I still feel like I need a childrens book to understand the actual war. I don't blame the book - I blame my attention span. But that said, this was also not a David McCullough work - McCullough could, and did, make the building of a ...more
Sam Thorne
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Some of the other reviews are comical. No analysis? No questions left in the mind of the reader?

The analysis is there, at the end of the book. Some of it is so understated that the reader is indeed left with questions.

For example, instead of telling the reader that the so-called War of 1812 was in fact the First World War, Hickey tells the reader that the War of 1812 forced the United States of America to take steps that allowed it to prepare itself for "the next World War".

That was perhaps a li
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
First 90 pages reads like a dull encyclopedia of who's who and what's what in government.
Upon the first encounter of the U.S. Constitution with the British in 1812 some 750 miles from Boston, history comes alive with a decisive victory and the name "Old Ironsides" is given.
Then the British exact revenge by looting the Capital and White House in Washington D.C. and burning them in 1814.
There is an old song "The Battle of New Orleans" which was fought during this war.
The inspiration for "The Star
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Don Hickey is a professor of history at Wayne State College. He earned his B.A. in 1966, his M.A. in 1968, and his Ph.D. in 1972 from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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