Thursday, December 16, 2010

Booklist review of Perilous Fight

From Booklist, December 15, 2010

Bedeviled on land, U.S. forces were more effective at sea in the War of 1812. Continuing a venerable tradition of historians (Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Adams, Alfred Mahan) drawn to this topic, Budiansky narrates events and ventures explanations for successes of the U.S. Navy against Britain’s Royal Navy. The prerequisite was the pre-existence of an American navy, whose establishment Ian Toll recounted in Six Frigates (2006). Those frigates scored initial victories in warship-on-warship combat (the Constitution’s sinking of the Guerriere) that exhilarated Americans and made U.S. captains (e.g., Stephen Decatur) famous. But naval war in the chivalric style did not strike the historically unsung William Jones as a sensible strategy. Secretary of the navy during the war, Jones is the most important character in Budiansky’s account. Jones thought that attacking Britain’s merchant marine would hamper her superior fleet far more than would destruction of her warships, and so it turned out, as Budiansky’s analysis of the forces tied to convoy and blockade duties verifies. Conversant in nautical technicalities of the age of sail, Budiansky will absorb the avid naval history audience. —Gilbert Taylor

Friday, December 10, 2010

Library Journal review of Perilous Fight

From Library Journal December 15, 2010

Budiansky, Stephen. Perilous Fight: America’s Intrepid War with Britain on the High Seas, 1812–1815. Knopf. Jan. 2011. c.448p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780307270696. $35. HIST
Both sides in the War of 1812 wanted to quickly forget this bloody three-year fight whose last costly battle took place after the peace treaty was signed—and most people have been forgetting it ever since. This second war for independence was filled with political disputes, mistaken appointments to command, and a multitude of blunders on land. Perhaps the only heroics were at sea, where the Americans had the best of the British, though the latter possessed the largest fighting fleet in the world. It was these victories at sea that silenced the debate between Republicans and Federalists over whether there should even be a U.S. Navy. Budiansky (The Bloody Shirt: Terror After the Civil War) presents the story of the war at sea in as objective an account as possible. He offers the unvarnished truth of the ineptitude—on both sides—of many of those involved. From politicians to military and naval commanders emerges the gritty story of the courage of Americans to see the conflict through to the end. VERDICT For those looking for the story behind the story, this book will enlighten and leave some shaking their heads over how this conflict even happened. Strongly recommended. Libraries should have on hand for the upcoming bicentennial.—David Lee Poremba, Keiser Univ. Lib., Orlando, FL

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Perilous Fight at the History and Military Book Clubs

Perilous Fight is being offered as a selection of the History and Military Book Clubs.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Racial justice and home-grown terrorism

A nice blurb in the Washington Post's "House Divided" blog for The Bloody Shirt, from Lonnie Bunch, the director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History:

Lonnie G. Bunch: What are the best new Civil War books?

By Lonnie G. Bunch
Founding director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.
There are so many books on the Civil War that it’s hard to keep up, but one of the books that I’ve read recently is “The Bloody Shirt: Terror After Appomattox” by Stephen Budiansky.
This is a book that really talks about the legacy of the Civil War and the fact that the war ended at Appomattox, but the battle for racial justice continued and it was a bloody and violent battle. It really raises the issue that terrorism has always been a part of the American landscape. In this case, it was southern Americans expressing there dissatisfaction with losing the war through violence and terror on African Americans. I think it’s one of the most important new books because it really helps us understand the role that violence played in limiting the aspirations and the expectations of the Freedmen immediately after the Civil War.