The Challenge: Britain Against America in the Naval War of 1812 Hardcover – 5 Apr 2012
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'[A] highly opinionated and superbly evocative account of the Anglo-American naval conflict ... Thrilling, even hypnotic.' --Sunday Times
'An accomplished work, full of high drama, trenchant argument and solid scholarship.' --Piers Brendon, Independent
'Superbly evocative account.' --Catholic Herald
'An excellent read ... I must recommend the work most highly to the widest possible range of readers.' --Navy News
From the author of Nelson and Admirals comes an exciting naval history of Britain's other conflict in 1812 - with the American navy.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
For two centuries American academics and writers have consistently outgunned their UK counterparts. In part this is not surprising: for Britain the conflict was a sideshow to the more crucial Napoleonic wars, in the newly independent USA it helped develop further the sense of national identity.
Rightly so in the case of the latter, yet anyone familiar with the tortured efforts by successive American commentators to gild the lily can acknowledge the need to redress the balance.
Teddy Roosevelt was a prime exponent of the tendency, with his convoluted mathematical attempts to downplay American firepower; Dupuy and Dupuy likewise offer a partial account of the President-Endymion encounter. Tellingly, the great US naval historian Mahan offered a more even-handed analysis of the war.
The truth was that the fledgling US navy had plenty of which to be proud. If the object of a battle was to win speedily, with maximum advantage and with the fewest casualties, there is plenty to commend the three victorious Amrican frigate actions.
Likewise, no amount of argument can detract from the fact that Shannon and Chesapeake were evenly matched and the better captain won on the day.
Lambert's book possibly won't find favour with everyone across the water. He might in fairness be faulted for too glibly dismissing American anger over the Royal Navy's high handed attitude to impressment (essential as the tactic may have been). Yet this is an outstanding contribution to the genre and to the pursuit of historical truth and well-written too.
Both myths were exploded, very early on, by the lawyer William James, who found himself in the US when war broke out and was held there for the duration, although, it has to be said, pretty well treated and allowed access even to US Naval dockyards. Professor Lambert describes James as "polemical", apparently not as a compliment. The funny thing is that his own book is a lot like that of William James. He is ruthless in his relation of the facts and rips apart the stale American myths. It is not a history of the whole war and does not claim to be. As with William James, he explicitly concentrates on the naval war. He refers to the Canadian war, when it is appropriate, and to the incompetent New Orleans campaign, but anybody wanting to read in detail about these should go to the relevant Canadian and American literature, respectively.
What Lambert does is place the war in its context, in terms of American politics and expansionist ambitions and in terms of the continuing Napoleonic Wars.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A deeply researched book, written by a very clever historian. He displays his pro Royal Navy sentiments, but this is no bad thing. Thoroughly recommended.Published 7 days ago by Bob Innes
Not read yet but what I have discerned, just by 'leafing through, looks excellent. I am looking forward to reading this book.Published 1 month ago by Mrs Joan I West
I enjoyed this journey back before the onset of the now "special relationship". There was a lot of back tracking of events from alternative perspectives when I had moved on which... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Verdana
A great account of a war that ultimately had no winners and one which corrects some of the hyperbole surrounding this conflict. Read morePublished 3 months ago by redvers
It's nice to have an authoritative counterbalance to America's warped, ridiculously heroic view of its own history which echoes some of the self-deluded propaganda we are more used... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Martynrb
Generally excellent book, very well researched and explained. However, a more detailed list of the single ship and squadron actions would have been helpful in the appendix. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
Well-written account of the unpleasantness between ourselves and the new ex-colony of the United States. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Raymond Scott
A brilliantly written , scrupulously researched history of the war of 1812. No matter whether you are a student of history or one who so reads history just for pleasure this is an... Read morePublished 8 months ago by James Donaldson