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