At least in public perception, war produces heroes and knaves, geniuses and fools. The War of 1812 produced a hefty supply of each. Fitz-Enz is an army veteran with 30 years of service, and he is a regular contributor to television documentaries on military topics. Here he views the war through a biographical prism, which leads to a confusing narrative structure as events described are not chronological. Still, his portrayals of these commanders on the American side are insightful and often brutally frank. He pays tribute to well-known icons, especially Andrew Jackson and his conduct at the famed Battle of New Orleans. He also praises lesser-known officers, including Naval Commander Thomas Macdonough, who repelled the British invasion on Lake Champlain. Fitz-Enz reserves most of his vitriol for those who owed their military appointments to their political connections. One well-deserved target, General James Wilkinson, was both incompetent and unscrupulous, and was probably a traitor in the pay of the Spanish government. Fitz-Enz has provided an informative look at the war with a provocative and interesting perspective. --Jay Freeman
Fitz-Enz has provided an informative look at the war with a provocative and interesting perspective.
)Very readable and informative even for those familiar with the war, Hacks, Sycophants, Adventurers, & Heroes would also be a useful introduction to the subject for the novice.
)Col. Fitz-Enz, who has written extensively on the War of 1812, uses mini-biographies of twenty-five American (and some British) commanders, both land and sea, to tell the story of the conflict. He groups these accounts by the part of the war in which these men, some of them truly hacks, sycophants, and adventurers, some heroes, and some a little of each, so several officers are often treated in overlapping fashion. Surprisingly, this rather innovative approach works well, as he uses the lives of these officers to illustrate various aspects of life, international relations, domestic politics, and contemporary military and naval practice from the American Revolution to the “Era of Good Feeling” that followed the war. Very readable even for those familiar with the war, this work would also be a useful introduction to the subject for the novice.
)...Colonel David Fitz-Enz writes with an urgency of detail that emphasizes storied past of our region.
(Adirondack Daily Enterprise
)Colonel David Fitz-Enz's narrative lives up to its title and more, looking at the War of 1812 through a prism of biographic sketches of some of this nation's better known, but mostly lessor and unknown characters of the era. A fine synthesis of previous scholarship and documentary records, Fitz-Enz allows his subjects to speak, and speak they do with an eloquence and passion that helped to define our national character. A gifted writer, Fitz-Enz's colorful descriptions of intense land and sea battles practically leave you smelling the gunpowder; his personal sketches make you feel like you knew these hacks, sycophants, adventurers, and heroes firsthand. This book is strongly recommended as required reading for U.S. history courses covering the War of 1812!
(David F. Winkler, Ph.D., Naval Historical Foundation)Hacks, Sycophants, Adventurers, and Heroes offers a fascinating insight into the remarkable characters of the War of 1812 who, arguably, changed the course of history. Often cruel, but always colorful, the men in this book bring an extraordinary period of history alive for both the academic as well as the casual reader—no easy task for a writer but something that David Fitz-Enz has accomplished with commensurate ease.
(Col. Timothy Weeks, Order of the British Empire, British field commander, fellow of the U.S. Army War College, and military attaché from the Court of Saint James)War is a human endeavor that brings out the best and the worst in man. This is an important theme in Colonel David Fitz-Enz's insightful warts-and-all study of the key American army, navy, and political leaders who served President Madison in the War of 1812. Those commanders with less than sterling attributes, whether classified as hacks, sycophants, or adventurers, explain some of the course of that conflict. But as this compelling book makes clear, it is the heroes, particularly those who rose above their own initial deficiencies, who were responsible for the ultimate outcome of the war.
(Col. David Jablonsky, USA ret., Ph.D., distinguished fellow, U.S. Army War College)It has been of personal interest for me to put 'meat' on some of those leading the American military and naval operations in the War of 1812. Alexander Macomb is of particular interest, as he directly opposed my ancestor at Plattsburgh, and both families were later connected by marriage in New York in 1872. A lot of research has obviously gone into this book, and I wish Colonel Fitz-Enz every success with it.
(Sir Christopher Prevost, Baronet, Rochester, Kent (UK))