Perilous Fight: America’s Intrepid War with Britain on the High Seas, 1812-1815
Stephen Budiansky. New York: Knopf, 2011. 422 pp. Illus. Maps. Notes. Bibliog. Index. $35.00.
Reviewed by David Curtis Skaggs
As we enter the bicentennial year of this “second war for American independence,” the interaction between the Royal Navy and the U.S. Navy before and during the War of 1812 continues to attract historians and popular-history authors. Versions of the story have included, over the years, those by James Fenimore Cooper, Theodore Roosevelt, and C. S. Forester, all of whom emphasized U.S. ship-to-ship victories while neglecting British tactical successes and the importance of the blockade to Britain’s strategy. Others, including Alfred Thayer Mahan, have focused on the advent of high-seas U.S. fleet operations to justify the Navy’s expansion in the late 19th century.