The best history books on the War of 1812 (along with some primary sources)

Donald R. Hickey Author Of The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict
By Donald R. Hickey

Who am I?

I’m an award-winning author and professor of history at Wayne State College in Nebraska. Called “the dean of 1812 scholarship” by the New Yorker, I’ve written eleven books and more than a hundred articles, mostly on the War of 1812 and its causes. I’ve been passionate about the War of 1812 ever since first studying it as an undergraduate in college.  Although the outcome on the battlefields was inconclusive and the war is largely forgotten today, it left a profound and lasting legacy. Since first “discovering” this war, my aim has been to elevate its public profile by showing how it shaped the United States and Canada and Britain’s relationship to both nations for the rest of the nineteenth century and beyond.


I wrote...

Book cover of The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict

What is my book about?

This comprehensive history of the War of 1812, thoroughly revised for the 200th anniversary of the historic conflict, is a myth-shattering study that will inform and entertain students, historians, and general readers alike. This book explores the military, diplomatic, and domestic history of the contest, bringing the study up to date with recent scholarship on all aspects of the war and showing how it shaped the future of the trans-Atlantic English-speaking world.

The books I picked & why

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The Incredible War of 1812: A Military History

By J. MacKay Hitsman,

Book cover of The Incredible War of 1812: A Military History

Why this book?

If you want to know how the British and Canadians view the war, this is the book for you. The original edition was published in 1965 but lacked documentation. For the revised edition, a team of Canadian scholars headed by Donald E. Graves added a host of appendices with new material and tracked down sources to give the volume appropriate documentation. 

The Incredible War of 1812: A Military History

By J. MacKay Hitsman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Incredible War of 1812 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hitsman's account of the War of 1812 is regarded by many experts as the best one-volume history of that conflict. It is an engrossing story of the causes of the war and of the campaigns and battles that raged on land and water, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. This new paperback edition, edited by Donald E. Graves, contains the entire text of the original edition and much new material.


The Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812 V1

By Benson J. Lossing,

Book cover of The Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812 V1

Why this book?

Lossing was an accomplished sketch artist and antiquarian who traveled 10,000 miles in the 1850s and 1860s, visiting battle sites and interviewing survivors of the war. The result of his labors was this compendium that includes songs, poems, battle maps, and illustrations. Lossing treatment of almost every subject yields fascinating gems.

The Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812 V1

By Benson J. Lossing,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812 V1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This Is A New Release Of The Original 1869 Edition.


History of the Late War in the Western Country

By Robert B. McAfee,

Book cover of History of the Late War in the Western Country

Why this book?

Part memoir and part history, McAfee was a Kentuckian who participated in some of the campaigns of the war in the West and knew many of the participants personally. Hence, his treatment of the conflict goes beyond the usual memoir in that it presents a comprehensive history of the western phase of the conflict from the perspective of an insider. 

History of the Late War in the Western Country

By Robert B. McAfee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked History of the Late War in the Western Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a pre-1923 historical reproduction that was curated for quality. Quality assurance was conducted on each of these books in an attempt to remove books with imperfections introduced by the digitization process. Though we have made best efforts - the books may have occasional errors that do not impede the reading experience. We believe this work is culturally important and have elected to bring the book back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide.


Where Right and Glory Lead!: The Battle of Lundy's Lane, 1814

By Donald E. Graves,

Book cover of Where Right and Glory Lead!: The Battle of Lundy's Lane, 1814

Why this book?

Canadian Don Graves is the preeminent military historian of the war. No one is better at examining the documentary record and the geographical setting of a battle and reconstructing what happened and presenting it in a coherent and compelling narrative. Graves has written first-class accounts of many of the major battles, but his treatment of the bloody Battle of Lundy’s Lane is perhaps his best work.

Where Right and Glory Lead!: The Battle of Lundy's Lane, 1814

By Donald E. Graves,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Where Right and Glory Lead! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the story of one of the most hard-fought actions in North American history. On a summer evening in July 1814, within sight of Niagara Falls, American, British and Canadian soldiers struggled desperately in a close-range battle that raged on into the dark. By morning more than a third had become casualties. The two armies had fought to the point of exhaustion, and who won has long been a matter of dispute.

Lundy’s Lane was the bloodiest battle of the War of 1812 and the bloodiest fought on what is now Canadian soil. It was the high mark of…


Tecumseh and the Quest for Indian Leadership

By R. David Edmunds,

Book cover of Tecumseh and the Quest for Indian Leadership

Why this book?

Indians fought on both sides in this war, but for the British, who were tied up in the Napoleonic Wars, they played a central role in saving Canada. The preeminent Native leader was the Shawnee war chief Tecumseh, who built an Indian confederacy allied to the British and was killed in 1813 in the Battle of the Thames. Dave Edmunds does a superb job of ferreting out the details of the life of the man who was arguably North America’s greatest war chief.

Tecumseh and the Quest for Indian Leadership

By R. David Edmunds,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tecumseh and the Quest for Indian Leadership as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this biography, David Edmunds examines the life of legendary Shawnee leader Tecumesh and his pivotal role in defending the Native American way of life.



Since his death as an avowed warrior at the Battle of the Thames in 1813, the details of Tecumseh's life have passed into the realm of legend, myth and drama. In this new edition, David Edmunds considers the man who acted as a diplomat - a charismatic strategist who attempted to smooth cultural divisions between tribes and collectively oppose the seizure of their land.



The titles in the Library of American Biography Series make ideal…


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