Sunday, January 30, 2011

Five books about America at war in 1812

Born and raised in Maine, Alan Taylor teaches American and Canadian history at the University of California, Davis. His books include The Divided Ground, Writing Early American History, American Colonies, and William Cooper’s Town, which won the Bancroft and Pulitzer prizes for American history.

His latest book is The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies.

For the Wall Street Journal, Taylor named a five best list of books about America at war in 1812. One title on the list:
by Linda Colley (2002)

'Captives' is not directly about the War of 1812, but it helps explain why the British would fight to control their own sailors, who were prone to flee for better-paying work on American merchant ships. As Linda Colley shows, Britain was chronically short of the manpower needed to sustain the huge navy that controlled the sea-lanes of international commerce and that was essential to the operation of this small country's global empire. Sorely sensitive to the loss of any of their people, the British liked to imagine themselves as rescuers of subjects who had been kidnapped by foreigners. Thinking defensively, they built an empire while imagining themselves as victims. In the process the British created their national identity—as the special people of a small, beleaguered island—which compelled them to see their kin, the Americans, as a distinct people barbarized by their savage continent.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue