Without a doubt this is a very comprehensive overview of the War of 1812. Despite the subtitle, much of this piece is about the land war around the great lakes. The performance left me feeling like I was being lectured to. The story, while detailed, seemed to jump around needlessly; no doubt due to the decision to keep each chapter focused on one specific topic. If you are a fan of the Master and Commander series, you will enjoy this a lot. The author assumes a deep understanding of sailing fighting ships and their tactics. The personality sub-plots, of which there are several, are not particularly illuminating. Madison is an imbecile. Decatur a caricature. Tecumseh, a paper doll. It was worth the time reading and will also appeal to political and economic interests. In the end, there was no regret it was over, and the message remained somewhat obscure.
I agree with other reviewers who have quipped OK if you have patience. By midway through the book it was drudgery to keep going. I hung in there and in the end, found it to be only barely worth my time. My biggest disappointment was that this is a book about Oppie's political trials and tribulations; not about science. Even in retrospect I find it astounding that someone can write such a detailed account of Oppenheimer's life and say so little about the heart of the man's life...which was science. What you do get in full measure is intricate descriptions of who was meeting whom during which FBI wiretap and who testified against whom to save their owns skins. Thus, this was a book about personalities; not about the world-changing events that marked Oppie's life. A non-scientist with an interest in the McCarthy era may well enjoy this book thoroughly. But I, alas, did not.
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