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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

Theodore Roosevelt was the most prolific of all of the US Presidents who wrote books. He was the author of over forty works that transcended his life from his years at college to his post presidency life. The Naval War of 1812 was Roosevelt's first book. It started as his senior thesis while at Harv

The Naval War of 1812 is a classic of American literature.

Theodore Roosevelt goes into great detail regarding the battles and decisions made during the war which was largely responsible for making the US Navy a significant force in the world.

He also completed a very confident analysis of how the w

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 Sta

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. Th

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 enjoy

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 arma

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.

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 lig

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..."

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