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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New light on a long forgotton conflict with no losers (or winners)
Peter Snow has with excellent original detailed research, thrown new light on an episode unique in United States History. Little known in the UK, overshadowed in the US by the Battle of New Orleans and often misunderstood in Canada as their own victory, Peter Snow has produced a fine even handed account of who was there and what happened.
Having studied the war (of...
Published 17 months ago by Keith Smith

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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It was an event I had never heard about, ...
It was an event I had never heard about, which for me made the book really interesting
Peter write's in a way that does not get bogged down with detail, and moves along a fair pace.
Published 7 months ago by The walker


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New light on a long forgotton conflict with no losers (or winners), 8 Oct. 2013
By 
Keith Smith "wolvesman" (Oxfordshire UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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Peter Snow has with excellent original detailed research, thrown new light on an episode unique in United States History. Little known in the UK, overshadowed in the US by the Battle of New Orleans and often misunderstood in Canada as their own victory, Peter Snow has produced a fine even handed account of who was there and what happened.
Having studied the war (of 1812) and this remarkable campaign in particular for many years I can say without hesitation it is a standout must read reference book.
I like in particular the new revelations on the influence and involvement of two talented officers Harry Smith and even more importantly the young George De Lacy Evans. references and notes are well researched and recorded.
Thank you Peter Snow for a long overdue totally original piece of work.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A return to Hornblower at his best! and all true!, 13 Sept. 2013
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I listened to this on BBC R4 and knew I'd have to read it. Peter Snow has caught the wonderful mood and nature of Britain at war, civilised even in the burning of Washington. Its a wonderful read because Peter Snow captures the British indignation of the slightly cowardly declaration of war by the Americans in 1812. The Yankees took shameless, opportunistic advantage of the fact Britain was locked in titanic conflict with Napoleon Bonaparte. The U.S. took umbrage at the pressing of their seamen, and the effect of the blockade and saw a chance to get a few good licks in on Canada while the Lion was occupied.
Its wonderful reflection that with Emperor Napoleon supposedly safely in Elba, that the British had the will to send the modest force necessary to humble the snapping Yankee terrier. As a Canadian, our history was shaped by the various American invading armies of the period, and there is no doubt that this salutary lesson got the attention of our neighbours to the south.
I love the British characters, all larger than life and involved in an amazingly daring 'cutting out' expedition of extraordinary success. Peter Snow has added personalities and foibles and he brings it all to life. His account is a harsh look at the new young nation, quailing in the face of a well trained army and powerful fleet; but he is more than fair and quick to highlight the Yankees' modest successes.
It was a jolly good read.

When Britain Burned the White House: The 1814 Invasion of Washington
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most inetersting to one who knows the area well., 4 Oct. 2013
By 
Amazon Customer (Grimsby, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: When Britain Burned the White House: The 1814 Invasion of Washington (Kindle Edition)
I studied American History up to the US Civil War for School Cert, and have toured the 13 Colonies battlefields of the Revolution.
Peter Snow must have done a lot of research and study to be able to be so interesting.
For example, I had always wondered what happened to the archives of the new Republic when the Brits were approaching Washington DC - now I know, and why they still exist.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An engaging telling of America’s biggest military embarrassment, 18 Jan. 2015
By 
David Herdson (Wakefield, Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
That the capital of the United States was occupied by an invading army, which then proceeded to torch the White House, the Capitol and various other government buildings, is not a fact widely known and certainly not widely celebrated. For the Americans, it is understandably a moment best glossed over; for the country which carried out the raid – Britain – it’s an event that fits neither the narrative of its own moment (when the focus was on concluding the war with Napoleon), nor that of today’s close Anglo-American relationship.

In fact, the whole War of 1812 (misnamed – it didn’t finish until 1815) tends to be rather unjustly overlooked by history, not least because the only lasting outcome it produced was to confirm the status quo in North America – though the significance that shouldn’t be underestimated, particularly for Canada. It did, however, produce several genuinely iconic moments, at least two of which are covered in Peter Snow’s book.

Snow’s story is that of the British campaign in Washington DC and Maryland in 1814. He strips out the wider strategic angles other than to place the campaign in the context of the hit-and-run strategy the British had to engage in, in a war they were not keen to be fighting against an enemy they had neither the desire nor the means to (re-)conquer.

It is a story he tells well. It’s thoroughly researched and he’s particularly strong in bringing the characters involved and their lives vividly to life; not just the soldiers and sailors doing the fighting but also the civilians unfortunate enough to be in the line of the advance. Snow’s background as a journalist shows in his focus on the human aspect but that’s no criticism; the quotes and anecdotes are well-chosen and support the narrative as well as providing colour and if the pen-pictures of the leading characters seem a little stereotypical (the aloof general, the gung-ho British admiral, the interfering, argumentative and irresponsible American politicians, and so on), then that may be simply a feature of an age of big characters.

The military and naval sections are also covered well enough although in truth it was a campaign with much more marching than fighting: both sides missed good opportunities to inflict defeats on the other, not least because both sides were cautious about over-committing themselves (the American militia were of poor quality in the field while the British simply had too few men to be able to afford any significant losses).

In addition, there are a number of lovely vignette moments, such as when the President’s wife – a far tougher individual than her cerebral husband – refuses to evacuate the White House in the face of advancing British troops until a particular painting of George Washington had been saved (both painting and First Lady successfully escaped).

Overall, it’s a very good book that uncovers a moment in history that deserves to be swept back out from under the carpet where it’s been hidden too long.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars how and why Britain burned Washington, 11 Nov. 2013
By 
markr - See all my reviews
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This is a very interesting and entertaining book, which explains the attack on the young United States by British forces in 1814, which resulted in the burning of the White House and Capitol in Washington, before the British were later rebuffed in Baltimore and defeated in attempting to take New Orleans.

This fascinating account shows how the US national anthem was written during the defence of Baltimore, and how people nearby strained to see the stars and stripes still flying above the fort in the dawn's early light - the clear sign that the British attack had been held off through the night.

This is a wonderfully researched and written work, which is highly readable, and always fair, praising the humanity shown at times by both sides.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A burning good read, 18 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: When Britain Burned the White House: The 1814 Invasion of Washington (Kindle Edition)
Rapid action, terrific story, well told, a great read. If you like factual history recounted in an engaging way then this book will charm and beguile, whilst making you ponder the way one great nation behaved to another. The principal characters are simply and wonderfully brought to life. I can't wait to read Harry Smith's life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read about some history that none of us knew about, 23 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: When Britain Burned the White House: The 1814 Invasion of Washington (Kindle Edition)
Although only a third of the way through, I'm hooked.
Love the writing style - uncomplicated but skillfully put together.
Involves the reader the the participants as you would expect, at the same time letting the narrative unfold.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, 31 July 2014
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Only half way through, but well written and an interesting recital of a little known part of US/UK history
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5.0 out of 5 stars Forgotten no more, 20 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: When Britain Burned the White House: The 1814 Invasion of Washington (Kindle Edition)
A great, pacey and entertaining history of the forgotten exploits of the British is the war of 1812, packed with the voices of contemporary sources and well balanced without the jingoism of many histories. It pays tribute to those involved without buying into the mythology that has been built around the founding years of the USA.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I strongly recommend., 20 Dec. 2014
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I borrowed this book from the library and wasn’t really expecting to be blown away by it. However, I found I could not put it down. A truly fascinating account of a little known part of British/American history. So, my now purchased copy will definitely be read and no doubt reread. I strongly recommend.
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