1812: The Navy’s War
George C. Daughan. New York: Basic Books, 2011. 491 pp. Illus. Maps. Bibliog. Index. $32.50.
Reviewed by William S. Dudley
With the bicentennial of the War of 1812 upon us, new books about it have been appearing for nearly two years. George C. Daughan’s book offers neither new information nor a new interpretation, but he does provide a smoothly written synthesis based on the published literature, mostly reflecting American historiography in secondary sources, both articles and books. Though not a naval historian by profession, Daughan previously wrote If By Sea: The Forging of the American Navy from the Revolution to the War of 1812 (Basic Books, 2008), and the present account is happily influenced by that experience.
This history, as indicated by the title, is heavily weighted toward the naval battles on the high seas, bays, sounds, and northern lakes. Although he does not ignore the land battles, Daughan spends more time and effort detailing naval actions.