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Through the Perilous Fight: Six Weeks That Saved the Nation

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  309 ratings  ·  51 reviews
In a rousing account of one of the critical turning points in American history, Through the Perilous Fight tells the gripping story of the burning of Washington and the improbable last stand at Baltimore that helped save the nation and inspired its National Anthem.

In the summer of 1814, the United States of America teetered on the brink of disaster. The war it had declared

Hardcover, 560 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Random House (first published January 1st 2013)
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Mary Louise Clifford
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
This very absorbing history of the War of 1812 is an excellent read, giving a day-to-day description of the British campaign in the Chesapeake Bay, the fall of Washington, and the defense of Baltimore. Francis Scott Key, who wrote the "Star Spangled Banner," appears throughout, practicing law and living in Georgetown on the bank above the Potomac River.

Because little was done to defend Washington, the British had little difficulty attacking and taking the city. They were less successful in their
Jim Gallen
Jun 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The War of 1812 is a segment of our history mostly remembered for the Star Spangled Banner and the Battle of New Orleans. Behind the color and the music it was a time of mortal danger for our then still young republic. “Through the Perilous Fight” is the story of that time when the Chesapeake was invaded, the White House and other government buildings in Washington burned and the surge was stopped at Fort McHenry under the stars of Old Glory.

Although it was a time are country was in great danger
Feb 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Washington-Baltimore campaign is probably the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to the War of 1812, which still remains obscure nevertheless. This isn't the only good book on the campaign (Charles Muller's was great, Walter Lord's remains a classic, and I have yet to read Peter Snow and Anthony Pitch's works on it), but it is definitely worth a read.

By 1814, the war was going badly for the Americans. The British, tired of defending Canada from ill-conceived and poorly executed Ame
In his latest book, Through the Perilous Fight, veteran Washington Post journalist Steve Vogel examines the turbulent period surrounding the burning of Washington, DC, by the British army during the War of 1812. Although largely an overlooked segment of American history, the conflict nevertheless produced a number of iconic American moments such as the aforementioned razing of the newly constructed capital, Dolley Madison protecting the portrait of George Washington, and of course the Star-Spang ...more
Jul 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Excellent book! I read this book knowing almost nothing about the War of 1812, except that it happened. This book almost reads like a fiction book with characters I got to know and exciting events taking place. It was clearly written and I feel like I got a real sense of what the people went through who were living at that time. I am shocked and amazed at what they had to live through and I am in awe of the the courage and strength shown by men such as Francis Scott Key. Now that I have read thi ...more
Fredrick Danysh
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Through the Perilous Fights documents the war between England and the fledgling United Staes in 1814. There is wonderful background and insight in the lives of Francis Scott Keyes who wrote what would become the USA's national anthem and British Admiral Cockburn who laid waste to much of Maryland coastal regions as well as burning the White House. The lives of other people are also highlighted. This is a good read on the War of 1812 and is well documented.
May 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Interesting read on the War of 1812 and the British invasion of Washington DC in 1814. I enjoyed how the book broke down the dates and detailed the events on what happen. It also tells of how our national anthem was created by Francis Scott Key, A Baltimore lawyer captured by the British and saw the bombardment of Ft. McHenry at Baltimore Harbor.
Tom Sakell
Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Am reading. Vogel's best yet. Am at the battle of Bladensburg and trying to figure out how this ends.
victor harris
Nov 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
Interesting to read how the Americans kept blundering and allowed the British to ruin Washington D.C. but the narrative gets lost in a morass of details.
Joseph J.
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: American-British history/military history buffs
I purchased this book because I lived in D.C. and Baltimore over several years, and a friend's elderly Italian aunt lived in the Bladensburg area and made divine ravioli there. This book covers the final weeks of the (forgotten) War of 1812, which saw D.C., President James Madison and the United States devastated by the torching of the Capitol and the White House. Yes, Dolley Madison is here shoving silver where she can before leaving and making sure the George Washington portrait is safe. If yo ...more
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a thoroughly researched account of the events leading up to the Battle of Baltimore at Fort McHenry in 1814. The success by the American troops here against the powerful British military, both army and navy,served as the definitive end to the struggle that started with the Revolutionary War. As the title suggests, this book also reflects on what inspired Francis Scott Key to write what has become our National Anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner". I highly recommend this book to students of ...more
Marie Carmean
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This history of the War of 1812 was stunningly written by Steve Vogel. Every aspect of the perilous time was explained in detail, and all of the "players" on both sides were remarkably outlined. The book carried me along and I enjoyed the journey very much. I especially enjoyed learning more about Francis Scott Key and the creation of The Star Spangled Banner. In this time of great dissension in our country it was interesting to read about the dissension during this time of trial and to discover ...more
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This is an excellent examination of the events surrounding the writing of "The Star Spangled Banner." I did not remember much about the War of 1812, and was fascinated by the characters described by Vogel. The author clearly shows how much acrimony remained after the Revolutionary War between America and England. In many ways, The War of 1812 was a second Revolutionary War, and the existence of the United States was seriously in peril. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in America ...more
Gerry Connolly
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Through the Perilous Fight Steve Vogel takes us through six weeks in 1814 during which the US very existence seemed in doubt. British sackings of Havre de Grace and other Chesapeake towns culminated in the capture and burning of Washington. All seemed lost until the British reversal in Baltimore and defeats in Plattsburgh and on Lake Champlain. Ironically America’s most crushing defeat of British forces by Jackson in New Orleans occurred after the treaty of Ghent ended the war. Vogel highligh ...more
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have a nephew who has repeatedly teased me about writing Women Heroes of the War of 1812 because I've written similar titles on other wars. I think part of his humor is the general lack of interest in that war, sandwiched as it is between two conflicts that engender far more interest. But while reading this book I nearly felt compelled to take the suggestion seriously. The war was that important and Vogel, a master storyteller and detailed historian, brings it to life quite brilliantly.
Hank Pharis
(NOTE: I'm stingy with stars. For me 2 stars means a good book or a B. 3 stars means a very good book or a B+. 4 stars means an outstanding book or an A {only about 5% of the books I read merit 4 stars}. 5 stars means an all time favorite or an A+ {Only one of 400 or 500 books rates this!).

I had only a vague memory of Washington D.C. being set on fire until I read this description of very sobering events. I never dreamed that almost all of DC was burnt to the ground during the War of 1812.
May 30, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I am trying to read books that I normally do not read and military non-fiction is included. I could not finish this book because it was so dry & detailed. I wanted to read it after I visited Fort McHenry but should have chosen a different book about the War of 1812. ...more
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is such a wonderful and well written book that really can be read by anyone with an interest in the subject. I can't reccomend this enough as a valuable resource for understanding the final year of the War of 1812.
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book did a good job of balancing thorough historical storytelling with interesting facts and a dynamic narrative which made it both informative and fairly easy to read.
Jim Hart
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very informative book about a forgotten conflict. Brings it home and shows how close the US to becoming a very different nation. Well researched
"They will be driven to become soldiers"

August 24, 2014 marks the 200th anniversary of the burning of Washington D.C. by the British. It's an event remembered by few, and yet out of it came our most enduring symbols of America… and perhaps much more.

Most historians (or at least those histories I've read*) treat the War of 1812 almost as an extension of the Revolutionary War. But Steve Vogel takes a slightly different approach and emphasizes the more immediate causes, namely the impressments of A
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I received this book through a Goodreads give away.

The book covers in detail the period from the beginning of August 1814 through the defense of Baltimore which was in the middle of September. The defense of Baltimore inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the "Star Spangled Banner" and therefore the reasoning behind the title of the book.

The book is broken up into short chapters that follow chronologically through each of the days describing events as witnessed by both the American and the British.
Doug Bright
Dec 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tucked between the American Revolution and The Civil War, the war of 1812 seems to occupy a forgotten drawer in American History. It's a somewhat eclectic event to Americans, a shadow of the Napoleonic wars occurring simultaneously in Europe, the US Army history deems it a " tie". The American somewhat, incomprehensible invasion of Canada, Indian ambushes contrasting with European linear battles and naval actions, the war can be confusing to follow, and it was, even for the participants. The war ...more
John Behle
Jul 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
More than a war book, more than a history book, this well researched, cross referenced work is an action portrait of people's lives. Steve Vogel presents the trials, the personalities, the loves, the losses of 40 days in 1814.

The War of 1812 is little known to many, outside of the story of The Star Spangled Banner. We live about 45 minutes from Fort McHenry, Baltimore, and visit there every couple of years. The storied flag is lovingly presented at the Smithsonian, after a many year restoration.
J Tea
Jun 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-loan, first-reads
Steve Vogel has written a rousing tale that brings to light what a precarious thing the founding of the United States was. By weaving together events during the summer of 1814 and the few months that followed, he manages to convey how a few minor changes could have spelled disaster and possible disintegration to a young republic. By following a small group of people ranging from heroic citizens, to James Madison who defiently refused to abuse executive authority, the author reminds us how precio ...more
Gerry Claes
Dec 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK, I admit it, I really didn't know anything about the war of 1812, the burning of the White House by the British or the attack on Fort McHenry when Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner. This book explains it all. I never knew how close the Federal Government came to falling, that James Madison was on the run how Francis Scott Key came to be in a position to see the British bombard Fort McHenry. This is an excellent read and you will learn a lot about the formative years of our grea ...more
Mar 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
As a native born Baltimore resident,I wanted to give this book a chance. The war of 1812 is very much a forgotten war. I don't recall any teaching of this war while I was in the city public schools.
I am very glad that I gave this author a chance.
I was drawn to the excellent reviews upon publication and the celebration in Baltimore of the War of 1812 anniversary.
Impressive research,well documented by notes,the author tells a story of heroes and villains all wrapped up in a very good read.

Jun 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, first-reads
I really liked this book. I am not a huge history nut so I didn't actually know all that much about the war of 1812. I know Washington burned and that we had a national anthem but reading more about the story (and not being forced by my history teacher) was surprisingly fun.

The book had a LOT of information and thus took me significantly longer to read than normal. I generally can do about 500 pages per day, this one took me over a week. However, while dense it was interesting and not a bunch o
Jeannette Dilouie
This book is utterly riveting!

Told clearly, concisely and at times even amusingly, I found myself wanting to skip ahead to know what would happen next... even though the final events are so well-known. Yet despite dealing with history most Americans think they're very familiar with, Vogel gives so many different insights and such a fresh perspective that the story of Washington D.C. burning and Baltimore repelling the British becomes an exciting read from start to finish.

It's especially intere
Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Steve Vogel does a masterful job of bringing to life a little known aspect of the early days of our new country. We forget that the British were still expecting to be able to regain the colonies they had lost only a few decades earlier. What many don't know is how close we came to that reality. In his usual, engaging manner Vogel dives deep into the the key figures of the War of 1812 and specifically those that blundered and masterminded the events of a 6 week period that ultimately assured our ...more
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Steve Vogel is a veteran military reporter for "The Washington Post." His coverage of the war in Afghanistan was part of a package of "Washington Post "stories selected as a finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize. He covered the September 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon and subsequently reported in-depth on the victims of the attack and the building's reconstruction. The winner of several journa ...more

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