The Greatest Fury: The Battle of New Orleans and the Rebirth of America

Dutton Caliber. Oct. 2019. 512p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780399585227. $32; ebk. ISBN 9780399585234. HIST
In 1815, a ragtag American army commanded by Tennessee planter Andrew Jackson inflicted a devastating defeat on a larger British force attacking New Orleans. The Battle of New Orleans was the last major action of the War of 1812. Victory redeemed the United States from national disgrace—Washington had been burned by the British a mere five months earlier. Jackson was feted as a hero and his path paved to the presidency. Mirroring his persona, 19th-century Americans developed a popular image of themselves as lean, rugged frontiersmen and crack shots. Davis (history, emeritus, Virginia Tech; Crucible of Command) indulges in detail, caught up in the minutiae of who shot whom and the precise circumstances of the battle. Exhaustive endnotes conclude this staunchly traditional military history that gives shorter shrift to geopolitical and cultural context, including the rich, complex relations among blacks, whites, freedmen, Spaniards, creoles, and Anglos in the melting pot of New Orleans. The irony and the tragedy? A peace treaty had been signed two weeks before the conflict. Hundreds of men died for no tangible gain.
VERDICT Extensively researched, tediously old-school military history.

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