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The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict, Bicentennial Edition Paperback – January 3, 2012

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Editorial Reviews Review

The War of 1812 gave the United States some of its finest military moments: Admiral Perry's victory on Lake Erie, Andrew Jackson's lopsided triumph at the Battle of New Orleans, the immortal words "Don't give up the ship!," and Fort McHenry's defense of Baltimore (which inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner"). At the same time, the fighting didn't go especially well for the Americans. Their invasion of Canada failed and the British burned the White House to the ground. The conflict ended in a draw. With The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict Donald R. Hickey offers what may be the most comprehensive treatment of the war, and includes many colorful anecdotes. For example, shortly after the mortally wounded James Lawrence uttered "Don't give up the ship!," his men did just that. Their vessel was hauled off to England, broken up, and its timbers used in the construction of a flour mill. The subtitle calls the War of 1812 a "forgotten conflict"; Hickey's excellent book shows why it's worth remembering. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.



"A well-researched and extensively documented overview of the causes and consequences of the War of 1812. In a penetrating analysis of prewar society, the author accumulates evidence suggesting that the war was ultimately unnecessary and unpopular. . . . Highly recommended as an inclusive political, military, and social treatment of a customarily neglected war."--American Library Association Booklist


"Despite being forgotten and overlooked, the War of 1812 was a significant milestone in the development of the United States. [Hickey] was accurate when he wrote, 'Although looking to the past, the war was fraught with consequences for the future, and for this reason it is worth studying today.' And there is no better place to start than with The War of 1812."--Civil War News


"The definitive study."--Journal of American History

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; Revised edition edition (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252078373
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252078378
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #220,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Don Hickey is a professor of history at Wayne State College in Nebraska. Called "the dean of 1812 scholarship" by the New Yorker, Don is an award-winning author who has written seven books and nearly a hundred articles on the War of 1812. He is best known for The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict (Bicentennial edition, 2012) and Don't Give Up the Ship! Myths of the War of 1812 (2006). Don also serves as series editor for John Hopkins Books on the War of 1812, has done extensive consulting work and delivered numerous public lectures, and manages an e-mail list for those interested in the war. For promoting public understanding of the War of 1812, Don received the Samuel Eliot Morison Award from the USS Constitution Museum in 2013.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 86 people found the following review helpful By James Gallen VINE VOICE on December 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
The War of 1812 by Donald Hickey is an worthy rendering of this little remembered conflict. It seems that to many Americans any events before the Civil War is lost in the mists of history. While the Revolution attracts some attention, the War of 1812 is remembered for little more than Old Ironsides and the Battle of New Orleans.

Prof. 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, are well explained. The war created a division between commercial, Federalist New England and the agricultural, Democratic-Republican south and west. The hardships of the war provided a boost for the declining Federalist Party, but with the return of peace, its decline toward oblivion resumed at a rapid pace. The economic interests of the various sections are well treated.

The war was occasioned by a coalition of interests which combined to overcome the significant opposition. This was, in fact, probably America's most unpopular War, Vietnam notwithstanding. The British impressment of seamen, American lust for Canada and resentment resulting from British incitement of Indians, combined to put together a political majority for war. Some of the maritime issues had led to a series of economic responses over several years prior to the commencement of hostilities.

The initial efforts to resolve the issues were a series of shifting and conflicting economic measures, including boycotts and trade restrictions which began before and continued during the war.

At the beginning of the war there was a difference of opinion as to whether the war should be fought only at sea or whether a land campaign was also to be prosecuted.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Mendelssohn on October 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
Hickey's War of 1812: a forgotten conflict is an excellent single volume history of an early American conflict poorly understood by most people. Indeed, I suspect most people know little more than that the Star Spangled Banner was written during the war of 1812, and possibly that the British burned Washington.
Hickey does a good job of portraying the early U.S. as a small country whose common sense was overcome to some extent by its own nationalism. The early Americans saw themselves as world players, and they weren't. The war started for a variety of reasons, but the two main ones were trade restrictions by Britain imposed during the Napoleonic Wars, and Britain's policy of impressement, or boarding American ships looking for British nationals for the Navy. The joke is that the British conceded the offensive trade policies just prior to the war, but news reached the U.S. too late. As a result, the war proceeded with poorly defined objectives, a weak military and without firm economic support. The net results were military defeats and economic distress.
Hickey does a good job of mixing political and social history with military history. Indeed, the military aspects of the book get the least amount of coverage. There are no battle maps, or detailed maps to track the battles. Most of these would be mere skirmishes by today's standards, but I wish Hickey went into more depth in battle history. The political policies and differences are covered in great depth, and reading some of the quotes one can't help but get the impression that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
This book is a good single volume history of the war of 1812. This war has more of interest in it than the national anthem and the last attack (prior to 9-11) on the mainland U.S. by a foreign power. Hickey did an excellent job of giving a political/social history of the war with just enough coverage of military events to give the book a complete, balanced approach.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Kevin F. Kiley on March 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a solid work on the War of 1812 that covers the political and social events of the period more than the battles and campaigns. Of the 309 pages of text, divided into eleven chapters plus an introduction, only three of the chapters (100 pages) cover the land campaigns, the war at sea, and the war on the lakes. Unfortunately, that coverage does not help anyone who wishes to study a military history of the war.

The book is competently done, but it is not a definitive history of the war and could, and probably should, have been longer. The author's stated premise, however, was to produce a political and social history of the war and that mission was accomplished very well. Such subjects as the Baltimore Riots of 1812, the causes of the war (in some depth) and the Hartford Convention are very well done, are quite informative, and are sufficient to give the reader a solid basis in those subjects. Further, the author covers the problems that the Democratic-Republicans (confusingly referred to as just `Republicans' in the volume) under Jefferson caused the country, and the country's economy, with their fervent anti-British ideology and hostility to any and all regular military forces in the United States, especially towards the US Navy.

This is not a military history in the true sense and marks a definite difference between actual military histories (such as John Elting's work on the War of 1812, Amateurs, To Arms! which was published about a year after this volume), and has little to do with the actual marching and killing that is involved in fighting wars.
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