So little has been written of this war, that the book should prove important as a source of fresh understanding. Beirne shows baldly how this war with Great Britain was a series of ridiculous misunderstandings, grotesque mistakes, a sort of opera bouffe. Yet it has resounding names,- Perry, Jackson, Francis Scott Key, Madison, Harrison and others who have been written into American folklore. There's good dramatic effect in reporting thrilling battles on sea and land, with the decisive battle of New Orleans waged two weeks after the peace treaty had been signed at Ghent. But despite the author's sound accounts of battles, the book hasn't the pace of today's battle reports. Its chief value lies in the sharp pointing of our vulnerability, of petty ambitions and personal jealousies inherent in statecraft -- significant then and now. Not a book for a quick sale or wide market, but one that meets a definite need.