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When Britain Burned The White House: The 1814 Invasion Of Washington (2014)

by Peter Snow(Favorite Author)
3.79 of 5 Votes: 1
1250048281 (ISBN13: 9781250048288)
Thomas Dunne Books
review 1: Think we’ve got problems in Washington today? It was a real mess in 1814 when the Brits overran our capitol almost unopposed and set fire to all public buildings, burning Dolley and James Madison right out of their big white home (the burn marks on the White House are still visible today). What a fiasco. Our “army” suffered terrible leadership, the inside political skirmishes were debilitating, and as usual the little people paid the dearest price. Very interesting insight into an often overlooked and embarrassingly huge military defeat in our national history. Especially enjoyed all the first person accounts from the soldiers, on both sides. And it all took place just 30 years after the Revolutionary War ended with our independence from Britain. It’s a good enligh... moretening history read. Rating 3 out of 5 rockets red glaring. PS. Ft.. McHenry near Baltimore took an awful pounding in one of the key battles and Francis Scott Key wrote a poem about it which didn’t become our national anthem until 1931.
review 2: Peter Snow's When Britain Burned the White House, is one of those books that you anticipate because you've always wanted to know more about the topic, but yet when you read it, you find you know more about some things, and even less about others. Difficult to understand? Well, it's difficult to explain. The reader will be aided immensely if you understand two things going in: 1. the subtitle is accurate, that is to say that it is focused mostly on the invasion Burning of Washington in 1814 and not really the rest of the War of 1812 and 2. be prepared for a narrative that dips in and out of straight-forward military history. Not to say that either of those are negative points, but they help in understanding in the beginning what you are about to read. Snow is excellent in his research and presentation of events- and in some ways the narrative is somewhat refreshing in that it leads with a more British point of view. Not surprising as Snow is a British journalist. The author emphasizes that the British, fresh out of the Napoleonic Wars, have a bit of a score to settle; but that is not the only reason for one of the most misunderstood of American wars. The reader would be forgiven, if being wholly unfamiliar with the War of 1812, that they may still be confused after reading this; but remember, this book focuses on a chapter in that war. That's not to say that Snow is not evenhanded in his treatment. His narration is more that evenhanded and fair. Meeting the different and lesser known figures of this story (on both sides) was intriguing, as was the brief, but informative background material given on some of the major and minor individuals. Sometimes a historian gives too much of a biography that takes away from the narrative. Snow is good about keeping the narrative and sequence of events flowing. His take on Dolly and James Madison is not ground breaking, but Madison doesn't exactly shine here, either. Snow is good guide and gets us through the event, but on occasion the writing bogs down a bit and seems more of a journeyman style in sections, that it fails to keep the rapt attention of the reader. On such occasions, I was readier to move a bit faster in pace and get to the next chapter. I enjoyed being able to keep pace by consulting the maps that were included, but I would have like some more plates of the paintings of key figures, some of the famous paintings of the event, etc, but they aren't included. As this was an advance galley copy for review, I suspect that they may be present in the final volume, but cannot say for sure. Overall, a welcome volume to the shelf on the War of 1812, especially considering it is the bicentennial of the Burning of Washington this year. However, since this is mainly focused on 1814, if the reader wishes a more comprehensive look at the entire war, it definitely should be included with other books for the larger picture. 3.5 starsNote: I received this as an Advanced Reader's Copy courtesy of the publisher through Goodreads.com. less
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It is mostly history...but a very ineteresting find!!
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