Nelson & His World

Discussion on the life and times of Admiral Lord Nelson
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 Post subject: New Book on the War of 1812 by Andrew Lambert
PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:54 pm 
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A new book by Andrew Lambert on the Anglo-American War of 1912 is to be published on 5 April. It was very favourably reviewed in the Sunday Times last week. It has some revisionary views on the war which should make stimulating reading. Scroll down to read the blurb:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Challenge-B ... 667&sr=1-1

The engagement of the Shannon, Captain Broke, and the Chesapeake, Captain Lawrence, during this war is one of the great frigate battles of history. Lawrence died of his wounds and Broke's head injuries were so horrific you could see the brain pulsing inside his skull. He recovered, however. Captain Lawrence's dying words, 'Don't give up the ship', are as revered and admired in the USA as 'England Expects' are in the UK. I first learned about him, and his last order, when I visited the town of his birth, Burlington, New Jersey - but this was before my interest in maritime history was aroused.

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 Post subject: Re: New Book on the War of 1812 by Andrew Lambert
PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:15 am 
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Anna,

Thanks for posting that. I'll certainly buy it at some stage, especially as it's by Andrew Lambert.

As the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 is being commemorated this year, I thought I would do some more reading about what was (and is) quite a complex subject, and as I don't know really that much about it. At the moment I am reading 'Naval Occurences of the War of 1812', by William James, which was his attempt to refute many of the claims made by the Americans for their frigates, over their British opponents, during the War. Specifically, he argued that 'no American ship of war has, after all, captured a British ship of war, of the same force, but that the reverse has occurred...'

He was a lawyer by profession, so was enabled to use his analytical mind rather than patriotism, to back up his claims, taking into account such considerations as broadside weight of metal, size of vessel, etc. He happened to be in Philadelphia at the commencement of the War, where he was detained. Despite this, he was actually allowed to board several of the American frigates and not only measure them, but talk to their crews.

That his work, written on his return to England, succeeded was shown by the fact that scorn and vitriol was personally poured on him by the Americans – and praise by many British Naval officers, for putting the record straight. The latter included Captain Thomas Hardy, Admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm, and Captain William Hoste.

In later years he was to turn his attention to his perhaps better known work, 'The Naval History of Great Britain', where he again used his analytical mind – and was to receive abuse, and in one case actual bodily harm, from a few British Naval officers!

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 Post subject: Re: New Book on the War of 1812 by Andrew Lambert
PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 10:38 pm 
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Yes ,but don't be deceived into thinking that a handful of successful actions by more powerful American vessels had the slightest effect on the war. The frigate actions were red herrings trumpeted to disguise the fact that America's principal war aim - the invasion of Canada was defeated; its economy - and governmental income which was derived from customs revenues - was destroyed; and by the end, the coast was completely open to British raids such as that which saw the burning of the White House. See Brian Arthur's 'How Britain Won the War of 1812' (Boydell and Brewer, 2011).
Reenactments are popular these days. I wonder if President Obama will be moving out?

Brian


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 Post subject: Re: New Book on the War of 1812 by Andrew Lambert
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 9:47 am 
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Brian,

Of course the war at sea was not the real issue, as you have pointed out, but it is perhaps not surprising that we remark upon it's nautical side. The book you mention looks to be worth reading, but at the moment looks a little expensive. However, I am sure I shall read it in due course.

As to your final comment, I'm sure Mr Obama be moving out – but whether from a sense of history (will he be picking up the whitewash brush as a final act, I wonder?) or from more recent events, I can't really say. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: New Book on the War of 1812 by Andrew Lambert
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:50 am 
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Sorry Kester!

I didn't wish to imply that there ws something wrong with an interest in naval side of the war. I was thinking about Lambert's book. I found Brian Arthur's account so refreshing in that he reduced this element to its correct proportions and highlighted the whole economic and maritime picture. The blurb on Lambert's book suggests that he has gone back to the old 'frigate' angle of visiion. Still. we'll see. I am going to his lecture on thje subject this evening followed by a the book launch. Hopefully there will be discounts!

Brian


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 Post subject: Re: New Book on the War of 1812 by Andrew Lambert
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:43 am 
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I must admit to feeling fear and foreboding whenever I see the current rush of 1812 books and the reviewers comments. The majority will be utter nationalistic rubbish.

I do also wish 'how Britain won the war of 1812' had not used such an aggressive title though, it reminds me of 'Waterloo the German Victory' - same apparent intentions behind the naming conventions. BUT without the title and the kudos of a historian like Lambert would he have gained that many sales....

Joss


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 Post subject: Re: New Book on the War of 1812 by Andrew Lambert
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:06 am 
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Brian,

No need to apologise, as I didn't think you were!

It will be interesting to see if Lambert has come up with anything new – albeit, perhaps, from the 'frigate angle'! I hope you enjoy the evening, and get a discount! Perhaps you could report back (about both)? :wink:

Matrim,

Yes, the title does perhaps sound a little agressive, but its purpose is surely calculated to make people to sit up, take notice and question. It worked for me, and I think it would have done whoever wrote it – although I guess Lambert gave it that extra kudos!

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Last edited by Devenish on Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New Book on the War of 1812 by Andrew Lambert
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:09 am 
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Just looked at the amazon comments for both the above books and I really, really wish people just would not.

Such books should be read by the whole community and though the US books tend to get the same from their American readers it does not help the books if the US audience reads the sort of comments that are currently out there.

For one thing the reviewers do not seem to know what they are talking about. One claims that the US won no victories at all apart from new orleans! and another claims that Lambert says that only the Constitution won 3 or so victories and no other US naval ship 'won' any victory. No differentiation of the USS President/ USS Constitution or the USS United States. No recognition of the lake victories by the US or their land victories when the Canadian side counter attacked into the US.

Any American will just say 'these two books must be full of British rubbish if they make mistakes as obvious as these' whereas it is unlikely that either book does anything or the sort...

Rant over.

Joss


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