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Lords of the Lake: The Naval War on Lake Ontario, 1812-1814 [Paperback]

Robert Malcomson
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 15, 2001 1896941249 978-1896941240 1
Of all the struggles that took place along the border between the United States and Britain's provinces in Canada during the War of 1812, the one that lasted the longest was the battle for control of Lake Ontario. Because the armies depended on the lake for transportation, controlling it was a key element in the war on land. Both Britain and the US threw manpower and resources into efforts to build inland navies, culminating on the British side in a ship larger than Nelson's Victory. This is the first full-length study of this aspect of the War of 1812.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Winner of the 1998 John Lyman Book Award for Canadian Naval and Maritime History, sponsored by the North American Society for Oceanic History --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

The late Robert Malcomson was a leading expert on the War of 1812 and the Age of Sail on the Great Lakes. He wrote several acclaimed books, including Capital in Flames: The American Attack on York, 1813 and A Very Brilliant Affair: The Battle of Queenston Heights, 1812, and was well known for the battlefield tours he led of the battlefield at Queenston Heights for the Friends of Fort George.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 430 pages
  • Publisher: Robin Brass Studio, Inc.; 1 edition (September 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1896941249
  • ISBN-13: 978-1896941240
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,580,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book of extraodinary importance June 23, 1999
By A Customer
In Lords of the Lake, Robert Malcomson explores the naval activity that took place on Lake Ontario during the War of 1812. In this brilliant and highly readable work, Malcomson succeeds in outlining, perhaps for the first time, the importance of the naval war on Lake Ontario in determining events of the larger conflict. While avoiding the national bias that has often marred the study of the War of 1812, Malcomson was able to establish the rightful place of the naval conflict on Lake Ontario in the lager contours of Canadian and American history. A must read!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, entertaining history July 9, 2002
This book is everything that military history should be. Mr. Malcolmson has a very readable style, while still providing a strong level of detail, and is not overly judgemental of most of the principal characters. Indeed, for the most part, both Commodores Chauncey and Yeo come out much better than most other histories of the War of 1812 have rated them. Lots of excellent and readable maps, are provided through the book where appropriate in the text. Excellent contemporary and modern art provides an evocative feel for the action, and is again placed strategically thoughout the text. Reserved for the appendices are tables showing the ships and broadside statistics for each fleet at several key intervals in the campaign, an appropriate decision given the changing nature of the fleets. The data is useful for understanding the different strategies employed at different stages of the war.
The book is not just a naval history, and does not overly concentrate on details of construction of the ships involved. At most times it would appear that providing crews for the fleets was more of a concern than the construction of ships. The book does a fine job illustrating the interaction of the land and naval arms and also the impact of events elsewhere such as on Lake Erie and Lake Champlain. Detailed accounts of the battles at Sackett's Point, Oswego, Sandy Creek, York and the 1813 campaign to Montreal are provided, as well as the many potential fleet actions on the lake, and more minor fleet activities. The struggles of both sides' commanders with their superiors, and the management challenges some of their underlings provided, are also covered, again, in what I found to be just sufficient detail to help keep the writing entertaining and evocative of the period.
I have read quite a bit on the War of 1812, and I still found much to learn from reading this book. I highly recommend it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fortune Favors the Brave! August 23, 2000
This valuable tome tells the interesting story of the arms race of the War of 1812. Gallant naval feats are few here, and there are mismanaged operations and no showdown fights. There is, though, a very interesting story to tell. Well-researched and better written, the author has chosen a topic that is seldom talked or written about and that is a valuable addition to the literature of the little-known War of 1812.
The story of the 'naval war' on Lake Ontario is a strange one. The British commander, Sir James Yeo, built an excellent fleet, and never really sought decisive action against his foe, American Isaac Chauney, who more than obliged him, apparently believing that to save his hard-built fleet was more important than hunting down and destroying his enemy, in the words of the immortal John Paul Jones, seeking a fast ship (or ships) and going 'in harm's way.'
In cold fact, Yeo didn't have to. By denying the Americans the control of Lake Ontario, he accomplished his mission. By not seeking decisive combat, Chauncey denied his country a strategic advantage, at the same time starving his very competent and aggressive subordinate, Oliver Perry on Lake Erie, experienced seamen and assets to build an overwhelming superiority on that other lake, which didn't stop him from winning the decisive victory at Put-in-Bay. It would have been interesting to see Perry command on Ontario against Yeo afterwards.
This book is highly recommended and belongs on every history buff's bookshelf, whether or not he or she is a War of 1812 enthusiast. It is another piece of the puzzle that is American militiary history.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dense going, good information April 5, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It covers what I want to know, but I bogged down in reading it. I'll make a serious effort before the summer bicentennial of the last engagements.
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