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The Naval War of 1812 (Modern Library War) Paperback – May 4, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A classic of naval history."  --Edmund Morris

"An excellent book in every respect, and shows in so young an author the best promises for a good historian."
--The New York Times

From the Back Cover

"A classic of naval history." --Edmund Morris

"An excellent book in every respect, and shows in so young an author the best promises for a good historian."
--The New York Times
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library War
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Reprint edition (May 4, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375754199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375754197
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #532,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Lloyd A. Conway on October 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
In a time when patriotism is passe, reading this book can redden the stuff in any American's veins. Our Navy's often-victorious battles against a superb and numerically superior foe ranks with the Athenian victory at Marathon in the annals of honor. Roosevelt was a natural storyteller and a first-rate scholar. Like JFK two generations later ("Why England Slept") this work was the product of a young twentysomething Harvard grad (JFK was actually a senior) that commanded serious attention nationally, and presaged a later rise to the summit of public life. Roosevelt's research is exhaustive, but not tedious, thanks to a vigorous prose style that carries the reader through a mass of detail without losing sail. The digression on which nationalities make the best seafarers would no doubt be considered un-PC today, but, as a general characterization of national characteristics, they arguably hold true. The author's final chapter, on the Battle of New Orleans, forshadows future policy, in that his criticism of the unreliability of the militia were embodied in the reforms that fully Federalized the National Guard, as the Dick Act of 1903. (Doubtless, his Spanish-American War experiences contributed to his desire to supplant the 1793 Militia Act, as well.) This book rests on my shelf, next to Mahan's "The Influence of Sea Power Upon History," and O'Brien's Aubrey-Maturin novels - as is fitting for an historical work written in the spirit of high adventure and studded with minute detail. -Lloyd A. Conway
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Karl H. Huffman on April 17, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This Echo Library edtion is a great disappointment. It is riddled with mistakes; words run together, first letter of many words missing, placement of footnote numbers incorrect. There are many different formats used for tables. Their decision to remove the original illustrations and diagrams was a major mistake. It is obivious that a proper proof reading was not cared out. The responsible person for this production has a lot to answer for.

In my opinion this edition should never have come to print. It is no longer a useful reference to the serious student nor is it much good for the casual interested reader.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Lohr on December 7, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
A book that comes close to setting a standard both for excellent history-writing and for historical scholarship when previous historians need straightening out. Theodore Roosevelt's book "The Naval War of 1812" sets an outstanding example: a story well told, with discussion of controversy along the way, including discussion of mistakes and of sources, and including application to matters current when it was written. TR's first and, I've heard tell, perhaps best book; someone cracked that his book on Cromwell revealed more about TR than about Cromwell.

TR (1) tells the story of the war, (2) often correcting a British chauvinist history and giving the details James Fenimore Cooper's story left out, those being the two main histories before TR wrote, (3) going to the original sources--ships' logs, captains' reports, etc., and (4) showing us how he concludes what he concludes. Excellent and enjoyable work--TR has quite a bit of fun correcting the British guy.

(I saw the line "Best history book I've ever read" in an article in the libertarian Reason magazine a couple decades ago, saying this of "Washing of the Spears: the Rise and Fall of the Zulu Nation." Which is indeed a 5-star book, but I think TR's 1812 a slightly better one.)

7 December A.D. 2010
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By MICHAEL A GREEN on December 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
This very well-written account, surprising from a youth of only 23, gives balanced portrayals of most of the major sea battles between the fledgling American navy, and the Lord of the Seas, Great Britain. In it, Roosevelt backs up his praise of American maritime ingenuity and the seaworthiness and discipline of its sailors with proofs, citations and cautious but sound reasoning. In each, diagrams of the engagements are provided, as well as other documented statistics, without overloading the reader with details, yet there are plenty of those. Roosevelt describes the handling of each ship and the actions of its captains with minute detail, without being, to the layman, purely technical. Although Roosevelt beats the patriotic drum, he also swings a corrective switch, against our commanders and our partisan historians, when their actions are faulty and objectionable -- a fact which underscores his fairmindedness and the authenticity of his rendering.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jetpack on October 23, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An excellent book. T.R. knows how to keep your interest. He was also only 24 when it was published.

Well researched, lots of information about the crews, weapons and ships.

I wish he had left out the land portion (seems unnecessary).

Interesting to see how much he was trying to make a point about the condition of the US Navy in 1882.

Some definite issues in formatting with the free Kindle version. The absence of the illustrations is noticeable.

Also, if you are Italian or Indian, T.R. didn't think highly of you as a sailor - so be warned on that one.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
In numerous encounters, the British, the most dominant force in naval in history was handed it's head on a platter by the young upstarts of the US Navy. How did this happen? British authors of the day tended to place the blame on bad luck and circumstances while downplaying the courage and professionalism of the US officers and crews.
TR set out on a scholarly quest to set the record straight. He vigorously argues that the Americans ships were well handled by their officers and the American gunnery crews were able to hit their targets because of discipline and practice.
This book is indeed a landmark in naval literature. It firmly established Teddy Roosevelt as an author and a historical scholar. Because his approach to this book was scholastic, many sections read like a graduate level thesis. If you are looking for a book that will keep you spellbound with tales of high sea adventure, you will only find it in measured doses. Mr. Roosevelt does know how to tell a story, but it is the overall story of the young US Navy.
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