Despite a handful of dramatic events-such as the burning of Washington, D.C., or the defeat of the British at Baltimore (a battle which inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the lyrics to "The Star-Spangled Banner")-the War of 1812 is often not foremost in America's cultural memory. So two hundred years later, why commemorate America's "second war of independence"? Moreover, why does the bicentennial anniversary seem more popular north of the 49th parallel?
This month, our Book Club will discuss the war's legacy through our featured title, The War of 1812: Conflict for a Continent (on sale April 24) by historian J. C. A. (John) Stagg-a definitive account of the political, military, diplomatic, and social dimensions of the conflict. The general editor of the James Madison papers, Stagg demonstrates not only why the war played a pivotal role in both Canada and America's burgeoning national identity, but also why the U.S. experienced such difficulty in prosecuting its first war. At the same time, he weaves together the parallel strands of all the other actors involved-Canadians, the British, and Native Americans-to show how the war impacted the development of North America.
Traces of the war are still evident today-from Fort McHenry in Baltimore to Fort George in Canada, and many more. View our slideshow; read our Q&A with John; and download our playlist. Also, check out our calendar of John’s upcoming book readings and signings.