Caffrey thinks the War of 1812 ""need never have been fought,"" since her British countrymen of the period ""neither knew...

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TWILIGHT'S LAST GLEAMING: America vs. Britain 1812-1815

Caffrey thinks the War of 1812 ""need never have been fought,"" since her British countrymen of the period ""neither knew nor cared about America, many of them having not the faintest idea where it was,"" and impressment of American seamen by the British merely inflicted a ""privation."" The actual cause of the war was American vanity: ""knowing that Europe persistently undervalued them [they] were touchily insistent on their value as they saw it."" In this casual treatment, the largest battle of the war, New Orleans, in which the British lost three eminent generals and a great many other key officers, receives only four pages because it took place after the Treaty of Ghent had been signed, and thus Caffrey considers it not really part of the war sequence. Most of the book's military history is devoted to the inconclusive northern skirmishes which, admittedly, produced American heroes like young Winfield Scott and Oliver Hazard Perry; Caffrey also demonstrates that trade was the British Achilles heel, citing Admiralty complaints of American privateers' success in seizing 800 vessels in two months. The book is written on the supposition that the War of 1812 has been ignored; but the bibliography omits useful American sources including Frederic Engelman's fine diplomatic and military history, The Peace of Christmas Eve (1960), and Harry Coles' The War of 1812 (1965), to which this volume adds little.

Pub Date: July 1, 1977

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Stein & Day

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1977