Winner of The 2012 George Pendleton Prize

Winner of The 2012 Gold Medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards in U.S. History (IPPY)

Winner of the 2012 Military Order of Saint Louis Award

Chosen for the 2012 Navy Reading List of Essential Reading

Selected as one of the top 20 Notable Naval Books of 2011

A finalist for an Audie in History from the Audio Book Industry


"Every American should read George C. Daughan's riveting 1812: The Navy's War. Daughan masterfully breaks down complicated naval battles to tell how the U.S. thwarted the British armada on the Great Lakes and the high seas. Highly recommended!"...............Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History, Rice University.


"At last, a history of the War of 1812 that Americans can read without wincing. By focusing on our small but incredibly courageous Navy, George Daughan has told a story of victories against awful odds that makes for a memorable book.".......Thomas Fleming, author of Liberty!: The American Revolution.


"In this vitally important and extraordinarily well researched work, award-winning historian George Daughan demonstrates the often overlooked impact of the 20 ship U.S. Navy's performance against the 1,000 ship British Navy in the War of 1812. Daughan makes a compelling case that the Navy's performance in the war forced Europe to take the U.S. more seriously, initiated a fundamental change in the British-American relationship, and enabled us to maintain a robust Navy even in peacetime." .................Lawrence Korb, senior fellow at the Center for American Progresss and former Assistant Secretary of Defense.


"The War of 1812 was a difficult test for the Untied States, still wobbly on the world stage nearly two decades after formal independence. That Americans received a passing grade was due in no small part to the exceptional performance of the U.S. Navy, which humiliated the legendary British Navy time and time again. With verve and deep research, George Daughan has brought those gripping naval battles back to life. For military historians and general historian alike, 1812: The Navy's War restores an important missing chapter to our national narrrative."........Edward L. Widmer, author of Ark of the Liberties: America and the World.


"1812: The Navy's War is a sparkling effort. It tells more than the naval history of the war, for there is much in it about the politics and diplomacy of the war years. The stories of ship-to-ship battles and of the officers and men who sailed and fought form the wonderful heart of the book. These accounts are told in a handsome prose that conveys the strategy, high feeling, and courage of both British and Americans. In every way this is a marvelous book.".............Robert Middlekauff, author of The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789.


"The War of 1812 was America's first great naval war, and George Daughan tells the story, from the coast of Brazil to the Great Lakes, from election campaigns to grand strategy to ship-to-ship combat. Sweeping, exciting and detailed."........Richard Brookhiser, author of James Madison.


Reviews and other information are added below as they are received. Scroll down to see them all. Some of these reviews are lengthy and have been condensed here. For full reviews visit the publication websites.

Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

"Daughan's volume tells tales about heroes, like Oliver Hazard Perry and Thomas Macdonough, in a fscinating fashion.The book is filled with information, supported by charts, diagrams, and illustrations, all of which help to place this war and its impact upon the nation into context. 1812 is filled with extensive detail but remains very readable. Consequently, it is a book that will please the scholar, student, and novice.

"Despite its subtitle, The Navy's War, this volume does far more than explain ship actions on the Great Lakes or on the high sea, it also provides a comprehensive survey of land engagements, political machinations, and European events as they are influenced by or influence naval battles. Daughan's thoroughness enables the reader to understand the U.S. Navy's role in such victories as the battles of Plattsburgh and New Orleans, which enabled the United States to secure an honorable peace.

"....................More importatly, this book's conclusion wisely tells how the War of 1812 taught the young nation several lessons that guided its future. Daughan documents how American's democratic government could handle wartime crisis without discarding its Constitution. Furthermore, he notes that the war gave the nation a greater sense of unity, reinforced the need for a stronger military to ensure national defense, and placed america on an equal diplomatic footing with European nations.

John V. Quarstein, is the historian for the city of Newport News. He is the author of CSS Virginai: Sink before Surrender (2012).................Spring 2012

American Heritage

"George C. Daughan's book is more comprehensive than the title might suggest. The author of "If By Sea:The Forging of the American Navy - From the Revolution to the War of 1812" deftly situates the naval story within the broader contours of the war, exploring diplomancy, the dustup over impressment, the Napoleonic wars, and the ill-fated Canadian campaigns. Much of the book's originality lies in its conclusion. Historians have long recognized the overmatched Navy's exploits against the British colossus - a David-verus-Goliath contest- but they have tended to denigrate its strategic importance. Daughan argues that the naval captains' bravery helped bring about a decisive change in Eurpoean attitudes toward the Untied States."

Phil Kopper and S. Scott Rohrer.........................American Heritage, Spring 2012

Maine Sunday Telegram

"Readers who have experienced George C. Daughan's prvious volume, "If By Sea: The Forging of the American Navy from the American Revolution to the War of 1812" (Basic Books, 2008), will not be surprised by the sweep, substance and attention to detail in his new book, "1812: The Navy's War."

"In the end, I stand in awe of my fellow Portlander's breaith and depth of knowledge and his abilitiy to organize a coherent and most readable volume. Here is a basic book for understand America's 'Second War of Independence' after 200 years."

William David Barry is a local historian who has authored or co-authored five books, including "Deering: a Social and Architectural History."............................Sunday, June 12, 2012

IPPY Gold Medal

"1812:The Navy's War" has won the 2012 gold medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards in the U.S. history catagory. The medal will be awarded in New York on June 4, 2012.

Notable Naval Books of 2011

Proceedings Magazine, U.S. Naval Institute, has chosen "1812: The Navy's War" as one of the top 20 Notable Naval Books of 2011.

Proceedings Magazine

"..........1812: The Navy's War is more than its title implies. It combines a lively narrative of naval actions with a keen understanding of national strategy and international relations in the conduct of war. For those with limited reading time during this war's bicentennial, Daughan's account is an excellent overview with enough detail to satisfy most."

David Curtis Skaggs. Dr Skaggs is professor emeritus of history at Bowling Green State University, Ohio

Military Officer Magazine

"Daughan brings military history alive, describing how a few stout warships and bold captains were the the primary offense and defense for a totally unprepared U.S. facing a powerful Great Britian that wanted to destroy its only maritime rival and reestablish dominance in North America.

                                                                                   William D Bushnell

The George Pendleton Prize

"1812:The Navy's War" has won the George Pendleton Prize for an outstanding book. The prize will be awarded at the annual SHFG awards luncheon given by The Society for History in the Federal Government on March 21, 2012.

The Audies

"1812: The Navy's War" has been selected as a finalist by the Audio Publishers Association for their Audie Awards competion in the history catagory. These awards are the "Oscars" of audio books. Winners in each catagory will be announced at the Audies Gala in New York City in June. The Audio Publishers Association is a not-for-profit trade organization for the audio book industry. I am honored that "1812" has been nominated for this prestigeous award. "1812" was produced in audio by Audible, Inc. and is available at

San Antonio Express News

"America's soverneignty, only a couple of decades old, was at stake when President James Madison reluctantly declared war on England due to mandatory trade restrictions, impressments of America's merchant sailors into the Roayl Navy, and as payback for hostillities shown toward America's Navy on the high seas.

"Award-winning naval historian George C. Daughan ushers readers into this vortex of global unrest in a fascinating look into America's first major military conflict after its battle for independence in his new work, "1812:The Navy's War."

"The book is a masterfull, spellbinding account of maritime battles that pitted a fledgling republic's 20-ship Navy against an experienced British fleet of more than 1,000 men-of-war (warships). Victories were cruelly measured in lives lost to disease and combat, as well as ships captured or chaotically destroyed.

"Daughan, who holds a Ph.d in American history and government from Harvard University, expertly walks his readers through the build-up for war and its ensuing battles, keeping the action flowing with vivid descriptions of events that capture the imagination.

"While the book focuses on naval battles, Daughan inserts several captivating accounts of land skirmishes, including England's march to Washington that caught America's military seemingly unprepared, and the firefight that inspired the composition of our national anthem.

"Daughan's description of the British invading and torching the capital, with Dolley Madison leaving the presidential mansion in a wagon with plates and portable articles, including George Washington's portrait, deftly illustrates how close America was to losing evrything tanglible its Founding Fathers held dear.

"Military enthusiasts will savor Daughan's narrative on the critical clashes on the Great Lakes, the Navy's key role in winning the crucial battle of New Orleans, and his account on the battle of Baltimore, where Navy legends delayed the British fleet's assault with attacks on the Potomac after the battle of Washington.

""1812:the Navy's War" is a mesmerizing tale of an infant nation, greatly outnumbered militarily but dedicated to the ideals of freedom, that was able to put aside political differences and competing goaals in order to take on the Brisish Empire and establish itself as a Republic capable of defending its interests on land and sea."

.......... by Vincent Bosquez for the San Antonio Express. Vincent Bosquez is a retired U.S. Marine Corps captain and coordinator of Veterans Affairs at Palo Alto College. He can be reached at

Kennebec Journal

"In 1812, the fledgling democracy of the new United States was just 29 years old. Militarily weak and fractured by regional political bickering, the United States was totally unprepared to confront a resurgent British empire, but President James Madison declared war on Great Britain anyway.

"1812:The Navy's War is Portland naval historian George Daughan's excellent naval history of America's most misunderstood war; it was the United States' 'second war of independence.' Daughan is the award-winning author of IF BY SEA (Basic Books, 2008), a comprehensive history of America's navy from the American Revolution to 1812.

"Here {in 1812} Daughan uses his considerable research and writing skills to present a vivid and exciting history of how a few stout warships, bold captains and brave crews were the nation's primary offense and defense facing the world's largest navy, and a powerful and arrogant Great Britain that wanted to destroy its only maritime rival and reestablish British dominance in North America.

"Daughan deftly describes the complex political, diplomatic and economic causes of the war, as well as Britain's unified strategic goals and the United States' surprisingly confused and naive lack of cogent plans, strategic thought and needed resources.

"Best, however, are Daughan's dramatic explanations of how the tiny American navy's victories at sea offset the army's dismal performance on land in a war that raged from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico across the Atlantic and into the Pacific Ocean.

" He tells of famous single-ship battles, both defeats and victories, how commerce-raiding privateers affected the war's outcome, how American naval triumps on Lake Erie and Lake Champlain thwarted a British invasion from Canada, and how American naval audacity and sacrifice on the Mississippi River was critical to Andrew Jackson's crushing defeat of the British army in the bloody battle at New Orleans."

(Bill) Bushnell on Books, column in the Kennebec Journal, February 2, 2012.

The Wall Street Journal

"The book is much more than the title suggests. Mr Daughan shows how the war at sea fitted into the American war effort and how the Navy - and the country - came out of the war better for the experience. The virtues of the war for America, Mr. Daughan suggests, were actually more civic than strategic. Madison assiduously conducted the war within the confines of the Constitution, guided by the strict republican principles that he championed. He immeasurably strengthened American democracy by avoiding any increase in presidential power and resisting the temptation to crush his opponents through the use of sedition laws. The president's policy of depending on militia forces raised locally would lead, in the postwar period, to a relaxation of property qualifications for voters, this expanding the electorate.

"Although the U.S. Navy could not match the British, it emerged from the war having won widespread respect for what it did achieve. Mr Daughan argues that America's naval victories led to a changed British attitude toward the United States after 1815. In the wake of the war, he writes, 'the new unity and strength of the republic freed her for a century from European entanglements and allowed her people to prosper in spite of the vicissitudes that would continue to challenge her.'

"Mr. Daughan suggests that the War of 1812 was indeed a second war of independence, completeing what had been started in 1775, strengthening the nation's democratic principles, and establishing a new and positive relationship in which Britain recognized America's place in the world. Perhaps we can conclude that it really was a war in which all sides gained something significant."

Mr. Hattendorf is the Ernest J. King Professor of maritime history at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I. ................................The Wall Street Journal "Books", January 28-29, 2012.

Sea Classics

"This is the thrilling story of America's Naval war from the coast of far-off Brazil to the interior waterways of the Great Lakes, from the Chesapeake Bay to the Gulf of Mexico.

"It is also the story of great ship-on-ship combats led by the young officers of that day who were destined to achieve fame and glory on both sides of the conflict.

"A tiny team of battle-tested American commanders, seamen, and privateers took on the greatest Naval power of the day, and won time and again epic sea battles that still siir the imgaination.

"This is a book not to be missed!"

Sea Classic Magazine. Review by Blaine Taylor. February 2012.

Roanoke Times

"This {1812: The Navy's War} and possible future volumes should become a standard text for the serious history student."

Richard Raymond III for the Roanoke Times, Sunday Jan 8, 2012.

The Washington Times

"With the bicentennial of the War of 1812 soon upon us, a plethora of books on the subject are in the market. Some treat individual actions or single theaters. Some deal with politics, and some deal with diplomacy, but "1812: The Navy's War" deals with it all. The full panoply is described in detail with charts, diagrams and references enough to please the most demanding scholar, yet it is pleasantly readable to amateur and professional alike. In the end, the read will know full well why some scholars call the War of 1812, "America's Second War of Independence."

Mr Daughan sums it up nicely in the book's Chapter 34: "America's newfound unity and her commitment to a strong military forced Europe to take her more seriously. She was an incipient power that Britain and other European imperialists could no long treat lightly."

Other authors in the recent past have covered vaious aspects of the War of 1812, but George C Daughan has put it all together in one well-written and most interesting volume. It's a book hard to put down and is most highly recommended as a good read. It's coverage of an important time in the history of the United States will make it a worthy reference for years to come."

....................Vice Adm. Robert F. Dunn for the Washington Times, Dec 20, 2011
Vice Adm Dunn is presidentof the Naval Historical Foundation

Open Letters Monthly/Stevereads

Stevereads 2011 Best Books of the Year. Number Three - "1812: The Navy's War"

"The author tackles his still-too-neglected subject with an unflagging enthusiasm, focusing on the fledgling U.S. Navy's efforts, outnumbered and out-gunned, to wage the new nation's war against the greatest naval power on the face of the Earth. Daughan is a master of evocative set-pieces (no history buff will want to miss his account of the Constitution v.s. the Java, which actually manages to out-do the fictional version in Partick O'Brian's The Fortunes of War),thrilling battle-narratives, and pithy exposition, but he's also adept at the broader scene-setting so many accounts of this war either lack or overdo. This volume supercedes all other accounts of the War of 1812, even, I'm melancholy to observe, Pierre Barton's great two-volume work from a few decades ago, and it's the single best work of history I read all year."

..........................................Stevereads at

Baton Rouge Advocate

Little-studied War of 1812 gets overdue treatment, by Andrew Burstein*

As we approach the bicentennial of that formative, little-studied war, naval historian George C. Daughan has written a deep and detailed page-turner of a book. With crystal clear maps and unadorned prose, he gives new life to the personalities, strategies, and desperate struggles of the ........... War of 1812. It is a story, told by a real expert, of the prowess and stamina of men such as the 28 year old commandant Oliver Hazzard Perry................ and Captain Isaac Hull of the USS Constitiution (Called "Old Ironsides") after enemy cannonballs harmlessly bounced of her).......................

*Andrew Burstein is Manship Professor of History at LSU and author of books on American political culture. ............................... Baton Rouge Advocate November 27, 2011

The Weekly Standard

Victory at Sea: The Navy comes of age in the War of 1812 by Joseph F. Callo*

"Frequently {The War of 1812} is seen as a sequence of freestanding, intensely dramatic events rather than as the tightly intertwined series of battles, military campaigns, diplomancy, and domestic politics that it was. But if a compulsion to concentrate excessively on the more spectacular bits and pieces of the conflict has been an endemic problem among academics and writers, this volume is an antidote. Daughan not only thoroughly illuminates the emotion-triggering events of the conflict; he also adds the background that connects the highlighhts. That background includes, for example, the American and British domestic politics and diplomacy, which were continuously both cause and effect in the process."

*Joseph F Callo is the author of John Paul Jones: America's First Sea Warrior
..................................................The Weekly Standard, December 5, 2011

Providence Journal

America's first war after independence. BYLINE: Tony Lewis*

"In 1812: The Navy's War, George C. Daughan does a terrific job of explaining {The War of 1812s} origins in the British policy of boarding United States merchant ships and impressing sailors, and in its general treatment of America as an upstart challenging its supremacy of the high seas..........

"With paiinstaking attention to detail and the ability to make complex naval confrontations understandable, even gripping, Daughan pursues the war north to the St. Lawrence River, east to the British coast where American privateers harassed British shipping , and south to New Orleans. In addition, Daughan never forgets that the British were mightily distracted by Napoleaon and the threat he posed to Europe.

"The cast of characters is robust, with Stephen Decatur, Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson, and Rhode Island's Oliver Hazard Perry, all playing leading roles. Even dearer to any New Englander's heart, however, will be the USS Constitution and its sister vessels, which played key roles in creating a new, lasting peace with the British."

* Tony Lewis is a retired English professor living in Padanaram...The Providence Journal, Dec 4, 2011

The Washington Independent Review of Books

" In his new book, George Daughan provides vivid and detailed recreations of the U.S. navy's signigicant battles during the War of 1812.In an era when the British Navy supposedly ruled the world, the U.S. navy successfullly challenged British supremacy. Daughan picks up where he left off in his Samuel Eloit Morison award-winning If By Sea: The Forging of the American Navy -From the Revoluiton to the War of 1812 (which Basic just released in paperback). 1812: The Navy's War is an important, well-researched and timely book - next year marks the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 - which scholars and lay persons alike will enjoy for its descriptions of the battles and Daughan's analysis of the domestic and international dimensions of the war.".................................

"At first blush, the War of 1812 looked like a waste of blood and treasure. However, Daughan convincingly argues that the navy's performance, a bipartisan belief that the U.S. needed a permanent defense capabillity, and British Foreign Secretary Castlereagh's realpolitik calculations led to a lasting peace between the United Sates and Great Britain. Castlereagh realized that the United States could no longer be pushed around, and the impessments and free trade disputes quietly disappeared.

"Colorful descriptions of the battles, the American sailors such as Captain Stephen Decatur and Commodores William Bainbridge and Oliver Perry who waged them, as well as the famous ships they commanded such as the "U.S. Constitution" , dominate this book. The glossary of naval terms that Daughan included at the end of the book - I finally know what a jib and a mizzenmast really are - helped a landlubber like me understand their tactics and really brought long-ago battles, in particular the "Constitution" versus the H.M.S. "Java", to life. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in (re)learning about the "Second War for American Independence."

.................Review by Chris Tudda, a historian at the Department of State. He is the author of "The Truth is our Weapon: The Rhetorical Dipolomacy of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Jonn Foster Dulles". His second book," A Cold War Turning Point: Nixon and China, 1969-1972", will be published in spring 2012. (Note: The views presented here are the reviewer's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of State or the United States Government.)