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When Britain Burned the White House: The 1814 Invasion of Washington Hardcover – August 19, 2014
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“[An] excellent account…Snow, an experienced British journalist, has told the story of those engagements with brio and a fine gift for making sense of the complexities of battle… a fine example of serious and literate popular history… It ranks with Anthony S. Pitch's fine "The Burning of Washington" (2000) as among the best accounts of a war that hardly deserves to be forgotten.” ―Washington Post
“Snow's narrative is authoritative and absorbing, his profiles sure and compelling, his judgments considered and fair, and his documentation most impressive. Wonderful for 19th-century political, military, and diplomatic history; specialists in Anglo-American relations; general readers; and all libraries.” ―Library Journal, Starred Review
“Never before has this story been told more fully or more engagingly, with greater empathy for both sides, or with greater balance…Snow dug deeply into records and reminiscences and, especially for the British side, brought the combatants, simple and august, alive. The pace is brisk, the characterizations sure, the judgments done with a light touch. The book distinguishes itself by rounding off the story of Washington with the subsequent Baltimore attack--both part of the larger British Chesapeake campaign. For the story of that campaign, this is now the narrative to read.” ―Publishers Weekly
“With ample quotes from English letters and diaries, Snow ably brings out the humanity of his subjects.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“A well-done chronicle of an episode of the war that helped to shape the ‘special relationship' between the U.S. and Britain.” ―Booklist
“Snow says ‘the clarity, humanity and wit of British and American men and women who were there bring the story alive as if it had happened today.' He can take credit for bringing those attributes to the page.” ―Marine Corps Times
“Peter Snow's account of this extraordinary event in British-American relations reads like a military thriller, each chapter raising the tension with a mass of detail and a kaleidoscope of characters who transform this book from what could have been a dry, chronological account into a riveting romp. . . . Snow adds an extra ingredient--a boyish enthusiasm for his subject . . . a meticulous and fascinating account.” ―The Times (UK)
“Snow builds his account on the voices of those who fought and witnessed the campaign, from nervous U.S. militiamen to Ross, Cockburn, and Dolley Madison, the president's resourceful wife. Written with verve and insight, this is a fitting reminder of a remarkable interlude in a war that deserves to be better known.” ―BBC History Magazine
“The result is superb. When Britain Burned the White House is an exemplary work of history--lucid, witty, and humane, with terrific pace, and so evenhanded that it will surely be received as well in America as here.” ―The Spectator (UK)
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Top Customer Reviews
The former ITV and BBC journalist Peter Snow gives a blow-by-blow account of the affair, relying as much as possible on primary sources as well as reminiscences of those involved. He shows how the American army was initially in disarray, outflanked and outmaneuvered by a far more professionalized British force. Nonetheless the chain of command among the British was often confused: Ross often found himself at loggerheads with his superior officers. Following his death, there was a power-vacuum in the British forces, which contributed in no small part to their failure to capture Baltimore.Read more ›
Rather than focus on the whole war, Peter Snow instead focuses in on the two of the last battles of the war. Up to this time, the war had largely been fought to a stalemate, with England having something of the upper hand. America - fighting "Madison's War" - had assumed that its armies and militias were sufficient to make territorial gains in Canada where General Sir George Prevost was maintaining a defensive strategy in Lower Canada (southern Quebec and the Labrador region of Newfoundland). Prevost was forced into this posture from London, which could not spare the troops.
Snow dives right into the narrative of the sacking of Washington, D.C. The alleged reason for the sacking - retaliation for the American sacking and burning of Toronto - seems on shaky ground as British troops had already exacted a measure of revenge against Buffalo. After troops led by General Robert Ross (with an assist from Rear Admiral George Cockburn) defeated a hastily assembled and hilariously inept force at the Battle of Bladensburg, the path to Washington was clear.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
a great read about a forgotten war ,i could not put it down .he tells us how close we came to losing our new nation .Published 5 months ago by mazz fdny
An engaging, evocative, gripping account of a moment in American history that few Americans know all that much about - but should, given that our National Anthem came out of it. Read morePublished 6 months ago by DFC
GREAT book, not many I'll re-read but this one I will. Author did his homework. Would definitely recommend for knowledge on this subject.Published 6 months ago by Chris Smith
A great read. Snow does an entertaining and informative job of explaining a little-discussed part of American history. I loved it.Published 12 months ago by Graeme P. Auton
I really enjoyed this book. It moves along at a crisp pace without giving you the feeling you've been cheated on the history. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Under State
I liked this book. It was very entertaining and also very educational. I learned so much but yet it did not feel like a textbook. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Horton