Union 1812, by A. J. Langguth

Discussion in 'The War of 1812' started by The General, Jul 1, 2007.

  1. The General

    The General New Member

    I just finished A. J. Langguth's Union 1812: The Americans Who Fought the Second War of Independence. This is the sequel to Langguth's excellent 1991 Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution, and is written in the same style. Instead of being a solid historical narrative, it instead focuses on individuals and their contributions to the subject. In this instance, it addresses the American politicians and soldiers who brought about and fought the War of 1812. While this is an interesting and novel approach, it means that there are large gaps in the coverage of the conflict. As just one example, there is no coverage of some of the important land battles such as Lundy's Lane. Langguth focuses on the great Indian leader Tecumseh, who played a critical role in the War of 1812, and was killed in battle while fighting alongside the British. Tecumseh was a born and charismatic leader who earned the respect of friend and foe, including his arch enemy, William Henry Harrison. While I've read a few books on the War of 1812 over the years, I've never seen one that addresses it from the perspective of the political and military leaders of the United States. The focus on Tecumseh, who was definitely an American legend, is particularly interesting because it focuses on the role that the Indians played, and the fact that they entered into a marriage of convenience with the British in the hope of regaining the lands that they lost to the white settlers.

    Langguth is a journalist by training, and he's a terrific writer. The book is very well written, with an easy, flowing style. At the same time, it does jump around quite a bit, which can be frustrating and a bit disconcerting. In addition, the book suffers from a paucity of maps, and, as pointed out above, there are some significant gaps in the coverage of the war itself. Having said that, it's a novel and unique approach to a forgotten conflict, and Langguth does a good job of building his case that the War of 1812 was really just an extension of the American Revolution. He also makes an interesting and persuasive argument that the Civil War was a direct result of the conflicts that emerged from the War of 1812, including the tension between north and south.

    This was an enjoyable and worthwhile read, and one I recommend undertaking. It's a worthy addition to any War of 1812 library.

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