The best books to answer your questions about the War of 1812

Wesley B. Turner Author Of The Astonishing General: The Life and Legacy of Sir Isaac Brock
By Wesley B. Turner

Who am I?

From my childhood, I loved to read and as I passed through school, I became increasingly fascinated by the lives and activities of people in the past. History became my passion during my high school years when I learned how to research and write historical accounts. During my thirty-eight-year teaching career, I focused my research and writings on pioneer life in Canada, immigration, and the war of 1812. I’m the author of six books, 17 biographies, and numerous articles and chapters in books. My experience as an editor began in high school with the school’s yearbook and has continued through my teaching years and into retirement. With history, there’s always more to learn.


I wrote...

The Astonishing General: The Life and Legacy of Sir Isaac Brock

By Wesley B. Turner,

Book cover of The Astonishing General: The Life and Legacy of Sir Isaac Brock

What is my book about?

The award-winning Astonishing General is a fresh look at Major General Isaac Brock. On October 13, 1812, he failed to prevent an American invasion at Queenston and he was killed early in the battle. Much later, the invaders were repulsed but it was the dead Brock who received the credit and immediately became lauded as the ‘Hero of Upper Canada’ No other British officer of that war received such immediate and lasting glorification from the military, the civilian population, and indigenous warriors.

This book also includes five appendices with content not found in other biographies.

The Books I Picked & Why

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Don't Give Up the Ship! Myths of the War of 1812

By Donald R. Hickey,

Book cover of Don't Give Up the Ship! Myths of the War of 1812

Why this book?

It provides scholarly answers to questions you may have about all aspects of that war. Some questions are basic such as what were the causes of the war and could it have been averted? Others are more specific: did American militiamen refuse to fight in the battle a Queenston and were American riflemen the most effective soldiers in the field. A great source for serious discussion or for a trivia contest.


In the Midst of Alarms

By Dianne Graves,

Book cover of In the Midst of Alarms: The Untold Story of Women and the War of 1812

Why this book?

The title tells you the subject of this book. The experiences and roles of women in that war receive little treatment in most accounts which creates a serious gap in our understanding of how the war affected the people of the Canadas. Who looked after the farms, mills, shops, and families when the men were away serving in the militia or if they were injured or killed? This scholarly yet easy-to-read volume offers a fresh perspective. 


The Iroquois in the War of 1812

By Carl Benn,

Book cover of The Iroquois in the War of 1812

Why this book?

This book written by a leading scholar of indigenous history fills a serious gap in scholarly studies of that conflict. Whether or not to remain neutral or, if they participated, which side to support in the war were life and death decisions for the Iroquois or Haudenosaunee. Benn’s account with a very informative appendix and bibliography adds to our understanding of how those nations responded.


Lords of the Lake

By Robert Malcomson,

Book cover of Lords of the Lake: The Naval War on Lake Ontario, 1812-1814

Why this book?

This award-winning work is the best account of naval rivalry and warfare on the most important of the Great Lakes. Malcomson clearly explains the details of the various vessels employed and the wider context of the naval contest. He shows how the mobility that naval forces provided to each side significantly affected all aspects of land warfare.


The Peace of Christmas Eve

By Fred L. Engelman,

Book cover of The Peace of Christmas Eve

Why this book?

The ending of that war by one of the most remarkable peace treaties ever signed, deserves the detailed treatment it receives in The Peace of Christmas Eve. When the United States declared war in June 1812, its government and people were deeply divided on the wisdom or necessity of such a course of action. Once begun and pursued, a way had to be found the end the conflict. The reader will find the who, how, and why clearly set out in Engelman’s book.


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