The list author says: "Who knows that the British in 1814 burned the Capitol and the White House, or that Andrew Jackson's victory at New Orleans in 1815 came after the peace had already been settled? Truly, the War of 1812 is 'the forgotten conflict.'"
"This new Madison biography has been called by one prominent historian 'the Madison for our time.' It puts the War of 1812 in the context of Madison's life and career, showing how the war resulted from the foreign policy that Madison formulated for first the Jefferson Administration (in which he was secretary of state), then his own."
"Garry Wills' short life of Madison focuses on the least successful period of his career: his presidency, particularly the War of 1812. Wills poses the question how the genius of political science could have been so feckless a president. In the end, his evaluation of Madison's administration is too generous."
"Remini's admiration for his subjects is unbounded. When he writes of Jackson, criticism is almost out of the question. This tome provides an apt description of the Battle of New Orleans, which elevated Jackson to a position of prominence rivalled in American history only by that of George Washington himself. Still, he was no 'great general.'"
"Quincy Adams, quondam Federalist, helped pull James Madison's bacon out of the fire. Luckily for the USA, Britain settled for the status quo ante bellum instead of insisting on territorial concessions."
"Why did the War Hawks want war in 1812? Wiltse's three-volume work is still the foremost Calhoun biography, and this tome covers the years of the war -- which Calhoun was virtually alone among politicians in considering a success."
"President Madison's decision for war caused a serious rift in his party, particularly in his home state of Virginia. Risjord's remains the leading account of the Old Republican (that is, Jeffersonian) opposition movement within Madison's party."
"Merrill Peterson's joint life of the three leading statesmen of the antebellum era shows how both the War of 1812's advocates (led by Clay and Calhoun) and its opponents (among whom Webster was prominent) understood and directed the events of those days."
"Prominent among the war's opponents was Virginian John Randolph of Roanoke, one of the great characters in American history. This book's chief merit is that it features a collection of Randolph's speeches in a lengthy appendix. Read them and see how far American oratory has fallen!"