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Publisher's Summary

Here's a gripping narrative of the second and final war of independence that secured the nation's permanence and established its claim to the entire continent, by the author of the enormously successful and acclaimed Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution.

This dramatic account of the War of 1812 fills a surprising gap in the popular literature of the nation's formative years. It is this war, followed closely on the War of Independence, that established the young nation as a permanent power and proved its claim to Manifest Destiny.

Full of fascinating characters - Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Dolley Madison, Sam Houston, the great Indian chieftain Tecumseh, Francis Scott Key, Davy Crockett, and Oliver Perry, among others - Langguth's riveting account covers a vast panorama of battles, from the American sacking of Toronto and the British burning of the White House and the Capitol, to the thrilling war at sea and on the Great Lakes and the final spectacular American victory at New Orleans.

Union 1812 will take its place on the history shelf of essential books on the young nation, alongside Langguth's Patriots.

©2006 A.J. Langguth; (P)2006 Tantor Media, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Langguth's prose is vivid, and he brings to life a panoply of personalities." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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Performance

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Tad
  • Philadelphia, PA, United States
  • 03-22-12

Fantastic narrative history

Langguth is a wonderful writer and Gardner is a wonderful narrator. Union 1812 tells the story of the early republic, up through the War of 1812. The subtitle is a key to the book's approach: it's a history that focuses on the people involved, with incisive portraits of the earliest statesmen (Washington, Adams, and Jefferson) as well as the later generation: John Quincy Adams, James Madison, William Henry Harrison, Andrew Jackson.

The story is somewhat more panoramic than the title implies. In laying the groundwork for his narrative of the war, Langguth describes the Constitutional Convention and the careers of the first four presidents in a series of brisk chapters. When he gets to the presidency of James Madison, the timeline slows down to focus on the events of the war itself. (The timeline slows down but the pace doesn't: Union 1812 remains a compelling and exciting listen throughout.)

I knew little about the War of 1812 before the book. My main impressions of it came from the movie The Buccaneer, which tells the story of the pirate Jean LaFitte at the battle of New Orleans. I had no idea the US had invaded Canada not once but multiple times over the course of the war; and though I knew the White House was burned by the British, I knew nothing about the campaign that led up to that. I'd heard of Tecumseh, the Native American leader who sided with the British, but had no idea what role he played in the conflict. The book was, for me, full of dramatic surprises.

I liked it so much I immediately downloaded Langguth's "sequel," Driven West, which is supposed to cover the years from the end of the war up to the Civil War. Many years ago, I'd read Langguth's history of the American Revolution, Patriots: if Audible or someone else would care to publish that as an audiobook (hint, hint), we'd have a dynamite trilogy.

My only complaint, as usual with books of this type, is that I needed to track down some good battle maps while listening. Presumably the printed book came with some: it would be nice if there were a PDF with those maps that could be downloaded from Audible. Maybe it's just me. I need to get some spatial sense of what's happening, and if I don't know the geography, I need to look at a map.

30 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 06-10-12

Much more than 1812

Surprisingly this book covers quite a bit more than 1812. It begins at the second constitutional convention and ends at the eve of the civil war. The war of 1812 does not really get going until half-way through the book. The treatment of the early years covered many of the founders and events, necessarily lightly. The author also skirts some of the more controversial elements of the various characters, which seemed a bit weak. Otherwise this is an excellent history of the early years of the union and the war of 1812. The narrative shifts seamlessly between stories of characters and battle strategy and action. This was well worth the listen.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Fantastic narrative history

Langguth is a wonderful writer and Gardner is a wonderful narrator. Union 1812 tells the story of the early republic, up through the War of 1812. The subtitle is a key to the book's approach: it's a history that focuses on the people involved, with incisive portraits of the earliest statesmen (Washington, Adams, and Jefferson) as well as the later generation: John Quincy Adams, James Madison, William Henry Harrison, Andrew Jackson.

The story is somewhat more panoramic than the title implies. In laying the groundwork for his narrative of the war, Langguth describes the Constitutional Convention and the careers of the first four presidents in a series of brisk chapters. When he gets to the presidency of James Madison, the timeline slows down to focus on the events of the war itself. (The timeline slows down but the pace doesn't: Union 1812 remains a compelling and exciting listen throughout.)

I knew little about the War of 1812 before the book. My main impressions of it came from the movie The Buccaneer, which tells the story of the pirate Jean LaFitte at the battle of New Orleans. I had no idea the US had invaded Canada not once but multiple times over the course of the war; and though I knew the White House was burned by the British, I knew nothing about the campaign that led up to that. I'd heard of Tecumseh, the Native American leader who sided with the British, but had no idea what role he played in the conflict. The book was, for me, full of dramatic surprises.

I liked it so much I immediately downloaded Langguth's "sequel," Driven West, which is supposed to cover the years from the end of the war up to the Civil War. Many years ago, I'd read Langguth's history of the American Revolution, Patriots: if Audible or someone else would care to publish that as an audiobook (hint, hint), we'd have a dynamite trilogy.

My only complaint, as usual with books of this type, is that I needed to track down some good battle maps while listening. Presumably the printed book came with some: it would be nice if there were a PDF with those maps that could be downloaded from Audible. Maybe it's just me. I need to get some spatial sense of what's happening, and if I don't know the geography, I need to look at a map.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • BB
  • 10-27-10

Good Overview

Pretty good overview of events leading up to and following the War of 1812. The author puts into perspective that the War was more than just Andrew Jackson's battle at New Orleans. Other fronts in the north were also fought. One minor correction. Isaac Shelby's participation at the Battle of Kings Mountain was 1780 and not 1773. At any rate, well written.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • W.Denis
  • Savannah, GA, United States
  • 11-18-06

Too big an assignment

The Author tries to cover so much ground and bring to life so many historical figures that the main events (the battle of New Orleans for example) are hard to follow and people get glossed over. The Clark family, General George Rogers and brother William are discussed in relation to Jefferson's desire to explore the West. Since the former is too old (and besotted) for the trip up the Missouri Jefferson it is reported settles on younger brother William to give his plans and objectives. This did not happen. He gave them to his Presidential Secretary Meriwether Lewis who later asked William Clark to join him on the Voyage of Discovery. Clark never met Jefferson until after the return to St Louis.

10 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Way too much detail you get lost within a sentence.

There are many details that are irrelevant. He makes following a simple story rather difficult. Good information can be obtained but is difficult to wade through.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Not what I wanted, but not bad

Any additional comments?

I wanted a book that detailed the War of 1812. I took a chance at selecting this one. It was not exactly what I was looking for, as it spent much time setting up the key players of the war, but little on the war itself. I fault myself more than the author or the book. I did come away learning about the personalities involved, as well as the contributing factors leading up to why the war was fought. For that, I did appreciate the book.<br/>If you are looking for the background details of why we ended up fighting Britain again so soon, then this is the book for you. If you are wanting the details of the war then you're not going to get that far in depth with it.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • a fan
  • Santa Clarita, CA, United States
  • 06-07-13

Excellent overview of early American history

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. This book provides one of the best summaries of early American history post-Revolution and pre-Civil War, with an in-depth look at the War of 1812 and its significance to the new nation.

Have you listened to any of Grover Gardner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Grover Gardner, like many narrators, takes just a few minutes to get used to, but once you do, he has a great voice and great style that really helps you get into the story you are listening to. He's especially good at portraying dry wit and sarcasm, which is really shown in his performance of Shelby Foote's Civil War: A Narrative.

Any additional comments?

A great book for American history fans. I would recommend having a solid grasp of the events leading up to and encompassing the American Revolutionary War before reading this book.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Early History makes today seem tame.

I found this book comforting because the disagreements of an earlier time in U.S. history make the political divisions of today seem milder than what I learn form current news. The duel in which Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton is the most extreme example. Many of our 'founding fathers' had high minded motives, although some did not. I continue to hold George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in high regard.

  • Overall

1814 ,the battle???

in 1814 we took a little trip
along with Andy Jackson
down the mighty missis sip
they gave us lots of background
and stuff behind the scenes
but the final bloody battle
was just a bunch of beans
SERIOUSLY, THE BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS SHOULD
HAVE BEEN THE "EXCITING" CONCLUSION [FOLLOWED
BY SOME FINAL FACTS AND THOUGHTS MAYBE]
IT WAS SOMEWHAT BLAND,NOT WHAT I WAS LOOKING
FORWARD TO

4 of 18 people found this review helpful