The Civil War of 1812

American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies
The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies. Knopf. Oct. 2010. c.656p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 978-1-4000-4265-4. $35. HIST
From the perspective of 18th-century Great Britain, any individual born on British territory was a Briton for life. Hence the British viewed American citizens as subjects despite the American Revolution. Pulitzer and Bancroft Prize recipient Taylor (history, Univ. of California, Davis; William Cooper's Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic) uses this perspective to cast the War of 1812 as a civil war between Great Britain's loyal subjects in Canada and the Revolutionary Republicans in the United States. Rather than writing a comprehensive history of the conflict, he focuses on the borderlands between Montreal and Detroit, where much of the fighting occurred and where conflicting loyalties and agendas most vividly came to the fore. The author astutely illuminates how a war intended to settle what form of government would prevail in North America in fact ended as a stalemate.
VERDICT Readers should turn first to Taylor's The Divided Ground: Indians, Settlers, and the Northern Borderland of the American Revolution to see how the borderlands were shaped by conflict before the War of 1812. As this war's bicentennial approaches, Jon Latimer's 1812: War with Americais another good choice.
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