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Through the Perilous Fight: Six Weeks That Saved the Nation Hardcover – Deckle Edge


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (May 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400069130
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400069132
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

From the War of 1812, Vogel selects the British invasion of the Chesapeake Bay in the summer of 1814 for this tight-focus treatment. Few details escape his attention, from the appearances and characters of commanders to specifications of weaponry, ships, and forts, which he integrates into an active narrative of military events. Showing the British initiative conferred by their naval supremacy, Vogel depicts American leaders guessing where their opponents would land in the deeply incised coastline of the bay. One such was James Monroe, who suspended his duties as secretary of state to scout the enemy on horseback. Also in the saddle, President James Madison personally inspected defense lines, fleeing their collapse in the Battle of Bladensburg and ensuing incineration of Washington. After inflicting this humiliation, British admiral Cockburn and general Ross decided to visit a conflagration on Baltimore, whose defiance of this fate an eyewitness expressed in a militant composition. Vogel, a Washington Post reporter, superbly dramatizes a campaign whose legacy is “The Star-Spangled Banner,” both the anthem and the flag for which it stands, today displayed in Washington. --Gilbert Taylor

Review

“[A] fine study . . . Steve Vogel does a superb job of bringing this woeful tale to life. He leavens his fast-paced narrative with lively vignettes of the principal participants. . . . Vogel meticulously sets the stage for the ensuing debacle.”—Joyce Appleby, The Washington Post

The Perilous Fight is probably the best piece of military history that I have read or reviewed in the past five years. . . . This well-researched and superbly written history has all the trappings of a good novel. There is great heroism, treacherous self-interest, cowardice and intrigue. . . . No one who hears the national anthem at a ballgame will ever think of it the same way after reading this book, nor want the national anthem changed.”—Gary Anderson, The Washington Times
 
“Complementing Donald R. Hickey’s War of 1812 and Alan Taylor’s The Civil War of 1812, this title will contribute to making this war no longer one of our ‘forgotten’ conflicts.”Library Journal

“Vogel . . . superbly dramatizes a campaign whose legacy is ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ both the anthem and the flag for which it stands, today displayed in Washington.”Booklist
 
“The experienced author knows how to write about the military and its human and martial conflicts. . . . A swift, vibrant account of the accidents, intricacies and insanities of war.”Kirkus Reviews

“Very fine storytelling, impeccably researched . . . Through the Perilous Fight brings to life the fraught events of 1814 with compelling and convincing vigor.”—Rick Atkinson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of An Army at Dawn
 
“Before 9/11 was 1814—the year the enemy burned the nation’s capital. Steve Vogel gives a splendid account, fast-paced and detailed, of the uncertainty, the peril, and the valor of those days.”—Richard Brookhiser, author of James Madison
 
“The War of 1812 remains one of the most important and least appreciated events in American history. In these engaging pages, Steve Vogel does much to rectify that, telling the story of a critical episode of the conflict with eloquence and insight.”—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

More About the Author

Steve Vogel is a veteran reporter on the National staff of The Washington Post with long experience covering the military. His first book, "The Pentagon: A History," was published by Random House in 2007. He is the author of the forthcoming book "Through The Perilous Fight," an account of the British invasion of the Chesapeake in 1814, to be published in the spring of 2013 by Random House.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 38 customer reviews
Steve Vogel tells the human side of the story here.
R. C Sheehy
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about an under appreciated period in USA history.
P. Sundog
A good read for those looking for more on the burning of Washington and attack on Baltimore in 1814.
Paul Flythe

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Darian Burns on May 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Having lived in Baltimore for seven years I passed the bouncing marker where Francis Scott Key was reported to have written the Star Spangled Banner. I also saw where the historic battle took place at Fort Morgan. So, when I saw Steven Vogel's newest book "Through the Perilous Fight: Six Weeks that Saved a Nation" I had to read it.

This spring is the anniversary of when the British attempted to capture the Chesapeake Bay. Vogel gives his readers a rousing account of one of the most critical turning points in American history. The story he tells is gripping, exciting, and seems at times to be unbelievable. However, it is true.

One of the things I most appreciated about the book is that it is character driven rather than event driven, which so many books of battle are. All the characters are rich and full. James Madison is the mild mannered president. British Admiral George Cockburn is the most hated man in America and makes Patton look demure. Secretary of State and future president James Monroe is a man of action but inept in battle. Francis Scott Key is a man of mercy and courage who is so moved by liberty that he encases its ideal in his historic poem. Dolly Madison, the First Lady that risks her life to protect the White House, then when forced to flee insures the portrait of George Washington.

However, do not be mistaken there are plenty of events and action. The book reads well as you are taken into the burning of Washington, the ransacking of the federal government and the Battle for Baltimore.

This is an excellent book that reads like a novel. Most Americans know little about the War of 1812, but it was one of the most important turning points of our nations history. This book is an excellent way to become familiar with this exciting and powerful time in our nations history.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ralph H. Peters on May 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent, supremely readable popular history. At a time when fewer and fewer Americans learn the objective facts of our country's past, this work is valuable (as well as wonderfully entertaining and enjoyable) on multiple levels. This "forgotten war" of 1812 was replete with devastating British terror attacks; American bluster--and military unpreparedness; and great heroism alongside craven behavior and profound ineptitude. That said, the author does not hector the reader on these points and others, but allows them to emerge from a skillfully crafted narrative. An accomplished journalist and author, Vogel is one of a dwindling band of writers who actually can write. Very highly recommended--and a splendid Father's Day gift, it seems to me. Fine history that's as entertaining as any novel.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sandra Heiler on June 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Through the Perilous Fight," by Washington Post reporter Steve Vogel, tells the story of the War of 1812 in the Washington-Baltimore area--a story of events that had at least as significant an effect on our country as 9/11. Yet, the most important thing most Americans know about the War of 1812 is that Dolley Madison saved the Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington. Vogel's subtitle, "Six Weeks that Saved the Nation," is spot on.

This book has three important things going for it:
* First, an astounding story:foreign troops invading Washington;the White House and Capitol in flames;the President on the run;the populace fleeing for their lives; private citizens arrested by the enemy; battles ending in devastating defeats or inspiring victories.
* Second, solid scholarship-- Steve Vogel's research is impeccable, and there's not a paragraph that isn't backed up by primary sources, carefully cited in end notes that are conveniently identified by page number, as well as quoted text where necessary, thereby avoiding interruption of the flow with reference numbers.
* Third, first-rate writing that's up to the task of recounting events day-by-day, without losing sight of the big picture. The story is told mainly in terms of the people who were part of it, with all their foibles; their histories, families, and friends; their strengths and weaknesses, virtues and vices, successes and failures. Even the battle scenes (which some of us find daunting to read) come alive when they're related in the words of the participants explaining their motives (or excuses). "Through the Perilous Fight" provides both a serious history lesson and a terrifically good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thomas G. Matowitz Jr. on August 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book is well written by an author who seems to know his subject matter thoroughly. The story is an important one, and something that I find I knew very little about before reading this book. The story abounds with colorful personalities on both sides. Mr. Vogel's narrative brings them vividly to life.
It was very interesting to read about the origins of the Star Spangled Banner, both the song and the flag. I wonder how many people today realize that the United States had no official national anthem until 1931.
With all the concerns about terrorism in modern life, it seems incredible to reflect that armed enemies roamed the capital of the United States two hundred years ago, destroying national treasures like the White House and the Capitol.
This is an excellent book. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By NewDad on June 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In Through the Perilous Fight, Mr. Vogel masters the art of sculpting meticulous research into an interesting and captivating story. I highly suggest it.
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