The best War of 1812 books

11 authors have picked their favorite books about the War of 1812 and why they recommend each book.

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The War of 1812

By Donald R. Hickey,

Book cover of The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict

This is the best comprehensive history of the period. The scope is daunting. The book, along with long phone conversations with the author, was my bible when writing Hacks, Sycophants, Adventurers, and Heroes, Madison’s commanders in the War of 1812.  Don not only gives you the facts but is also adept at stinging them together into an absorbing narrative that will keep you looking for the next turning.  The period of the war is filled with the most audacious characters found in any nations’ early history.  From the heroes of the battlefield to the wretched politicians that haunt all our history, you will never find a more gripping read.

The War of 1812

By Donald R. Hickey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This comprehensive and authoritative 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. Donald R. Hickey explores the military, diplomatic, and domestic history of our second war with Great Britain, bringing the study up to date with recent scholarship on all aspects of the war, from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada. The newly expanded The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict, Bicentennial Edition includes additional information on the British forces, American Indians, and military operations such as…


Who am I?

I am a retired Army Colonel, paratrooper, and aviator who served four tours in Vietnam as a platoon leader of combat photographers in the 173rd Airborne Infantry Brigade and later as a communication officer in the 1/10 Cavalry Squadron, 4th Infantry Division. Subsequently, I commanded six ties and operated the Moscow Hotline for three Presidents. On retirement, I lectured at the National Archives, Library of Congress, U.S. Naval Museum, and National Army Museum London England. I was also the guest lecturer at the Napoleonic fair, London. I conducted four one-hour television programs on my six books for C-Span Television and appeared on Fox News Network. I was awarded the Distinguished Book Prize from the US Army Historical Foundation and was granted the Military Order of Saint Louis by the Knights Templar, the priory of Saint Patrick, Manhattan, NY for contributions to Military Literature.


I wrote...

The Spy on Putney Bridge: A Mystery Novel of Espionage, Murder, and Betrayal in London

By David Fitz-Enz,

Book cover of The Spy on Putney Bridge: A Mystery Novel of Espionage, Murder, and Betrayal in London

What is my book about?

It is presumed that during WW I the British caught all of the German spies and either turned them or shot them. I believe you never get all of anything in war.

My book tells the saga of two German spies, a mother, and a son, who went undetected. Their story is unique but not impossible. How they did it will surprise; It was done from the inside out. It started with hurt feelings and when it was over there was a trail of blood outside of the battlefield. It couldn’t happen you think, after all, a real German spy was caught in Putney England by a dry cleaner on the high street. But these spies didn’t wear German clothes.

The Incredible War of 1812

By J. MacKay Hitsman,

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

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

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.


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.

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

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.


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.

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

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.


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.

Where Right and Glory Lead!

By Donald E. Graves,

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

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!

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…


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.

Struggle for the Gulf Borderlands

By Frank Lawrence Owsley Jr.,

Book cover of Struggle for the Gulf Borderlands: The Creek War and the Battle of New Orleans, 1812-1815

This traditional account of Jackson’s war against the Creeks and the British does a good job of tying together these two wars and showing how Jackson’s success in the first led seamlessly to his role in the second. A little dated but still rewarding.

Struggle for the Gulf Borderlands

By Frank Lawrence Owsley Jr.,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Struggle for the Gulf Borderlands as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The books in the Florida and the Caribbean Open Books Series demonstrate the University Press of Florida's long history of publishing Latin American and Caribbean studies titles that connect in and through Florida, highlighting the connections between the Sunshine State and its neighboring islands. Books in this series show how early explorers found and settled Florida and the Caribbean. They tell the tales of early pioneers, both foreign and domestic. They examine topics critical to the area such as travel, migration, economic opportunity, and tourism. They look at the growth of Florida and the Caribbean and the attendant pressures on…


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 didn’t become interested in this battle until well into my academic career, when I decided to turn the series of articles on the War of 1812 that I had written into my first book. I quickly became fascinated by the cast of characters, headed by tough-as-nails Andrew Jackson; Baratarian pirate Jean Laffite; and the British commander, Sir Edward Pakenham, who was the Duke of Wellington’s brother-in-law. No less intriguing was the magnitude of the U.S. victory and the British defeat, the profound and lasting legacy of the battle, and the many popular misconceptions about what actually happened in the battle or what might have happened had the British won.


I wrote...

Glorious Victory: Andrew Jackson and the Battle of New Orleans

By Donald R. Hickey,

Book cover of Glorious Victory: Andrew Jackson and the Battle of New Orleans

What is my book about?

In this lively and eminently readable book, Don Hickey draws on a lifetime of research to succinctly summarize the battles and campaigns of the War of 1812—America’s “forgotten conflict”—before launching into the story of the battle that saved New Orleans, made Andrew Jackson a hero for the ages, and shaped the American memory of the war.

Aimed at students and the general public, Glorious Victory will reward readers with a clear understanding of Andrew Jackson’s role in the War of 1812 and his iconic place in the postwar era. In the process, it shatters many widely held myths about the most famous battle of the war and the extraordinary impact it had on the new nation.

Amateurs, to Arms!

By John R. Elting,

Book cover of Amateurs, to Arms!: A Military History of the War of 1812

I was given the opportunity to make a television program about the Battle of Plattsburgh /Lake Champlain. Amateurs to Arms proved out to the best source for research concerning the War of 1812. It was no wonder since Professor John Elting had also written the 1812 West Point Atlas. His book on the northern battlefields is groundbreaking. An infantry officer in Germany during WWII, his experience brought an understanding of men caught in hand-to-hand combat. As a result of my extensive research, John suggested that I write a companion book to the film. The Final Invasion, Plattsburgh, the war of 1812’s most decisive battle, won the Army Historical Foundation book prize and the endorsement of the US Army War College.

Amateurs, to Arms!

By John R. Elting,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Amateurs, to Arms! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Begun in ignorance of the military reality, the War of 1812 was fought catch-as-catch-can with raw troops, incompetent officers, and appallingly inadequate logistics. The odds against the American fighting forces,woefully unrealistic preparations and expectations, British military might, a feckless Congress and administration, the treason of many citizens who fed and praised the enemy,were overwhelming. American soil was invaded along three frontiers, the national capital was occupied and burned, and the secession of the New England states loomed as a definite possibility. Amateurs, to Arms! examines in succession the campaigns of "Mr. Madison's War": the U.S. invasion of Canada the key…


Who am I?

I am a retired Army Colonel, paratrooper, and aviator who served four tours in Vietnam as a platoon leader of combat photographers in the 173rd Airborne Infantry Brigade and later as a communication officer in the 1/10 Cavalry Squadron, 4th Infantry Division. Subsequently, I commanded six ties and operated the Moscow Hotline for three Presidents. On retirement, I lectured at the National Archives, Library of Congress, U.S. Naval Museum, and National Army Museum London England. I was also the guest lecturer at the Napoleonic fair, London. I conducted four one-hour television programs on my six books for C-Span Television and appeared on Fox News Network. I was awarded the Distinguished Book Prize from the US Army Historical Foundation and was granted the Military Order of Saint Louis by the Knights Templar, the priory of Saint Patrick, Manhattan, NY for contributions to Military Literature.


I wrote...

The Spy on Putney Bridge: A Mystery Novel of Espionage, Murder, and Betrayal in London

By David Fitz-Enz,

Book cover of The Spy on Putney Bridge: A Mystery Novel of Espionage, Murder, and Betrayal in London

What is my book about?

It is presumed that during WW I the British caught all of the German spies and either turned them or shot them. I believe you never get all of anything in war.

My book tells the saga of two German spies, a mother, and a son, who went undetected. Their story is unique but not impossible. How they did it will surprise; It was done from the inside out. It started with hurt feelings and when it was over there was a trail of blood outside of the battlefield. It couldn’t happen you think, after all, a real German spy was caught in Putney England by a dry cleaner on the high street. But these spies didn’t wear German clothes.

1812

By George C. Daughan,

Book cover of 1812: The Navy's War

There are many great books written about the fledgling US Navy that came into its own during the campaign of 1812.  As an Army officer, I was compelled to read them all when researching if my book, Old Ironsides, Eagle of the Sea if I were to compete with that of the ‘old saults’. George was challenged not only to define the complexities of the fledgling American frigates, but to contrast it with the proven rulers of the waves.  The British navy had not had a significant challenge since the magnificent history laid down by captain Horacio Nelson. The unpresented victories over the Royal Navy’s frigates were “uncalled for” according to the London Times. If there is one book to read about the epic struggle at sea, this is the one to choose.

1812

By George C. Daughan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When war broke out between Britain and the United States in 1812, America's prospects looked dismal. British naval aggression made it clear that the ocean would be the war's primary battlefield,but America's navy, only twenty ships strong, faced a practiced British fleet of more than a thousand men-of-war. Still, through a combination of nautical deftness and sheer bravado, a handful of heroic captains and their stalwart crews managed to turn the tide of the war, besting the haughty skippers of the mighty Royal Navy and cementing America's newly won independence. In 1812: The Navy's War , award-winning naval historian George…


Who am I?

I am a retired Army Colonel, paratrooper, and aviator who served four tours in Vietnam as a platoon leader of combat photographers in the 173rd Airborne Infantry Brigade and later as a communication officer in the 1/10 Cavalry Squadron, 4th Infantry Division. Subsequently, I commanded six ties and operated the Moscow Hotline for three Presidents. On retirement, I lectured at the National Archives, Library of Congress, U.S. Naval Museum, and National Army Museum London England. I was also the guest lecturer at the Napoleonic fair, London. I conducted four one-hour television programs on my six books for C-Span Television and appeared on Fox News Network. I was awarded the Distinguished Book Prize from the US Army Historical Foundation and was granted the Military Order of Saint Louis by the Knights Templar, the priory of Saint Patrick, Manhattan, NY for contributions to Military Literature.


I wrote...

The Spy on Putney Bridge: A Mystery Novel of Espionage, Murder, and Betrayal in London

By David Fitz-Enz,

Book cover of The Spy on Putney Bridge: A Mystery Novel of Espionage, Murder, and Betrayal in London

What is my book about?

It is presumed that during WW I the British caught all of the German spies and either turned them or shot them. I believe you never get all of anything in war.

My book tells the saga of two German spies, a mother, and a son, who went undetected. Their story is unique but not impossible. How they did it will surprise; It was done from the inside out. It started with hurt feelings and when it was over there was a trail of blood outside of the battlefield. It couldn’t happen you think, after all, a real German spy was caught in Putney England by a dry cleaner on the high street. But these spies didn’t wear German clothes.

Book cover of A Colored Man's Reminiscences of James Madison

Paul Jennings' memoirs are a vital voice to understanding this historical epoch. On August 24, 1814, he was present when Dolley Madison ordered the painting of George Washington to be taken off the wall before evacuating the White House. Jennings was also the last person out of the White House before the British military arrived. Were it not for Jennings, we would not know that an innkeeper cursed Dolley Madison and kicked her out of her hotel because she was angry that her husband had been fighting prior to the burning of the White House. His reminiscences of life as a slave and a free person show his character, honor, and determination.

A Colored Man's Reminiscences of James Madison

By Paul Jennings,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Colored Man's Reminiscences of James Madison as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. To ensure a quality reading experience, this work has been…


Who am I?

As a writer of ten mostly historical nonfiction books, I tried to rely on the original writings of the people that I wrote about rather than third-hand accounts. What I love about reading people's own words is that letters allow you to see a person's humanity and their emotional reactions to their circumstances. I also love the cinematic qualities of the story of the burning of the White House. Both Dolley and James Madison went through an authentic, organic character change in the aftermath, much like characters in a movie. I also loved the revival of patriotism that took place in the aftermath, which is similar to the aftermath of  9/11.


I wrote...

The Burning of the White House: James and Dolley Madison and the War of 1812

By Jane Hampton Cook,

Book cover of The Burning of the White House: James and Dolley Madison and the War of 1812

What is my book about?

It's unimaginable today, even for a generation that saw the Twin Towers fall and the Pentagon attacked. It's unimaginable because in 1814 enemies didn't fly overhead, they marched through the streets; and for 26 hours in August, the British enemy marched through Washington, D.C., and set fire to government buildings, including the U.S. Capitol and the White House.

Relying on first-hand accounts, historian Jane Hampton Cook weaves together several different narratives to create a vivid, multidimensional account of the burning of Washington, including the escalation that led to it and the immediate aftermath. From James and Dolley Madison to the British admiral who ordered the White House set aflame, historical figures are brought to life through their experience of this unprecedented attack. The Burning of the White House is the story of a city invaded, a presidential family displaced, a nation humbled, and an American spirit that somehow remained unbroken.

Book cover of The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King; Comprising His Letters, Private and Official, His Public Documents, and His Speeches Volume 5

Senator Rufus King played the role of disrupter on Capitol Hill during James Madison's presidency. Once united in the public relations campaign to convince the states to ratify the U.S. Constitution, King and Madison became rivals when King ran as the vice-presidential candidate on the ticket against President Madison in the 1808 presidential campaign. That rivalry took a conspiratorial turn in 1813 and 1814. Thanks to King's letters, we now know that General Armstrong was speaking covertly to Senator King against President Madison while serving in Madison's cabinet. Both New Yorkers with their eye on the presidency, their mutual ambition was to ensure that no Virginian, especially Secretary of State James Monroe, won the presidency in 1816. Their failure shows why most Americans do not know the name of Rufus King.

The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King; Comprising His Letters, Private and Official, His Public Documents, and His Speeches Volume 5

By Rufus King,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King; Comprising His Letters, Private and Official, His Public Documents, and His Speeches Volume 5 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Unlike some other reproductions of classic texts (1) We have not used OCR(Optical Character Recognition), as this leads to bad quality books with introduced typos. (2) In books where there are images such as portraits, maps, sketches etc We have endeavoured to keep the quality of these images, so they represent accurately the original artefact. Although occasionally there may be certain imperfections with these old texts, we feel they deserve to be made available for future generations to enjoy.


Who am I?

As a writer of ten mostly historical nonfiction books, I tried to rely on the original writings of the people that I wrote about rather than third-hand accounts. What I love about reading people's own words is that letters allow you to see a person's humanity and their emotional reactions to their circumstances. I also love the cinematic qualities of the story of the burning of the White House. Both Dolley and James Madison went through an authentic, organic character change in the aftermath, much like characters in a movie. I also loved the revival of patriotism that took place in the aftermath, which is similar to the aftermath of  9/11.


I wrote...

The Burning of the White House: James and Dolley Madison and the War of 1812

By Jane Hampton Cook,

Book cover of The Burning of the White House: James and Dolley Madison and the War of 1812

What is my book about?

It's unimaginable today, even for a generation that saw the Twin Towers fall and the Pentagon attacked. It's unimaginable because in 1814 enemies didn't fly overhead, they marched through the streets; and for 26 hours in August, the British enemy marched through Washington, D.C., and set fire to government buildings, including the U.S. Capitol and the White House.

Relying on first-hand accounts, historian Jane Hampton Cook weaves together several different narratives to create a vivid, multidimensional account of the burning of Washington, including the escalation that led to it and the immediate aftermath. From James and Dolley Madison to the British admiral who ordered the White House set aflame, historical figures are brought to life through their experience of this unprecedented attack. The Burning of the White House is the story of a city invaded, a presidential family displaced, a nation humbled, and an American spirit that somehow remained unbroken.

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