MR. AND MRS. MADISON'S WAR by Hugh Howard

MR. AND MRS. MADISON'S WAR

America's First Couple and the Second War of Independence

KIRKUS REVIEW

Numerous books have cast almost too much light on the “unknown” War of 1812, so historian Howard (The Painter’s Chair: George Washington and the Making of American Art, 2009, etc.) take a different tack, writing largely from the point of view of President Madison and Dolley, the nation’s most popular first lady before Eleanor Roosevelt.

The author delivers a skillful history of the war itself, launched after five years of frustration at British seizure of American merchant vessels and impressment of sailors. The chief goal the American army was the conquest of Canada, which failed disastrously despite several attempts. The goal of the navy was damaging British commerce. This succeeded notwithstanding the distraction of a handful of minor but spectacular American naval triumphs, which did not prevent the immense Royal Navy from blockading our coast, damaging American commerce even more. Mostly the war was a three-year litany of inept generals, wrong-headed politicians and a sprinkling of heroes (Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, Oliver Hazard Perry), whose victories made little difference in the war's outcome. British and American historians agree that it was a draw; ironically, Canadians consider that they won. Britain never agreed to stop seizures and impressment, but winning the Napoleonic wars made that moot. Dolley’s contributions to waging the war were minimal, but Howard provides illuminating asides about her activities as Washington’s premier hostess and a far more colorful correspondent than her husband.

An entertaining portrait of the era’s first couple and the social life of the young nation’s elite.

Pub Date: Jan. 17th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-60819-071-3
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2011




MORE BY HUGH HOWARD

NonfictionTHE PAINTER’S CHAIR by Hugh Howard
by Hugh Howard
NonfictionDR. KIMBALL AND MR. JEFFERSON by Hugh Howard
by Hugh Howard
NonfictionHOUSE-DREAMS by Hugh Howard
by Hugh Howard

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

NonfictionTHE CIVIL WAR OF 1812 by Alan Taylor
by Alan Taylor
NonfictionPERILOUS FIGHT by Stephen Budiansky
by Stephen Budiansky
Nonfiction1812 by Jon Latimer
by Jon Latimer