The best War of 1812 books 📚

Browse the best books on the War of 1812 as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict

The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict

By Donald R. Hickey

Why this book?

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…

From the list:

The best books about war and warriors that influenced my writing career

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

The Incredible War of 1812: A Military History

By J. MacKay Hitsman

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. 

From the list:

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

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

The Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812 V1

By Benson J. Lossing

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.

From the list:

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

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

History of the Late War in the Western Country

By Robert B. McAfee

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. 

From the list:

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

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

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

By Donald E. Graves

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.

From the list:

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

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

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

By Frank Lawrence Owsley Jr.

Why this book?

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.

From the list:

The best books to understand the Battle of New Orleans

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