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The Naval War of 1812

Theodore Roosevelt

Book Overview: 

Somewhat detailed history of naval engagements between the United States and England during the War of 1812, from a decidedly American perspective. Completed by the author as a young man at age 24. After 120 years, it remains a standard study of the war.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .f the other boats of the squadron helping her, gained on the Constitution but by severe exertion was again left behind. Shortly afterward, a slight wind springing up, the Belvidera gained on the other British ships, and when it fell calm she was nearer to the Constitution than any of her consorts, their boats being put on to her. [Footnote: Cooper speaks as if this was the Shannon; but from Marshall's "Naval Biography" we learn that it was the Belvidera. At other times he confuses the Belvidera with the Guerrière. Captain Hull, of course, could not accurately distinguish the names of his pursuers. My account is drawn from a careful comparison of Marshall, Cooper, and James. ] At 10.30, observing the benefit that the Constitution had derived from warping, Captain Byron did the same, bending all his hawsers to one another, and working two kedge anchors at the same time by paying the warp out through one hawse-hole as it was run in through the other opposite. Having . . . Read More

Community Reviews

As history this may rate four or five stars, but its poor readability will repel all but the most numbers-oriented naval history buffs. Considering that Roosevelt's goal was to correct representations and misinterpretations on both sides of the Atlantic, perhaps his didactic style can be excused....more

Brilliant! If anyone needed reaffirmation of Roosevelt's genius, this is the proof. He parsed an unintelligible war perfectly, including all the naval navigation. All of this and more when he was 22 and writing the book while on his honeymoon! What a guy, what a book!

This is a work that deserves to be read (or listened to, in my case) on two levels. The first is simply as a piece of naval history, and on that front it is simultaneously thorough, rigorous, and a touch pedantic. Only the most ardent of naval history buffs or Patrick O'Brian enthusiasts will enj...more

Interesting read but not for someone who isn't into history and doesn't have at least a passing knowledge of how sailing ships operate. The language is very much 19th Century. The author does a very good job of presenting both sides. The descriptions of vessel weight, tonnage, crew strength and a...more

David McCollough mentioned this book during an interview at the 2017 National Book Festival.
I don't recommend it as a light read as it goes into incredible detail of each ship on the various sizes and explains why one ship type, combination of fire power, or crew did better than the others.

The Naval War of 1812: A Complete History by Theodore Roosevelt is a history of the US naval battles in the War of 1812. Roosevelt was the twenty-sixth President of the United States, and a leader of the Republican Party and of the Progressive Movement. He became the youngest President in United...more

This rating has more to do with the version of the book that I read (Kindle) than the book itself. The Kindle edition had no readable charts (all lumped together & hard to read) or diagrams, which made understanding what was going on more difficult.

It seems that the issue of the book was the...more

Bully Plus Broadsides - Wooden Ships and Iron Men

What most readers may not know is that this book was something of a standard history at the U S Navel Academy and in British universities. TR was a very much a superior historian, if still a man of his times.

This is a critical history and not for...more

So far, The CV of TR is such that I want to kill myself for lack of effort in life - I have done nothing...yet.
John Burroughs the Nature-Writer wrote "Roosevelt was a many-sided man and every side was like an electric battery..."

This was a amazing book utterly impossible to accurately rate simply with stars. The writing is technically methodical and surprisingly eloquent but sophomoric compared to Teddy's later writings (something that will be obvious if you read the version with his additional chapter on the Battle of N...more

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