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.

Boston Globe, October 23, 2011

"In a broadside-to-broadside slugfest on Aug 19, 1812, lasting barely 30 minutes, the US frigate Constitution defeated the British frigate Guerrier some 600 miles east of Boston. Days later, Captain Isaac Hull, who was headed home, decided to anchor the Constituion off Boston Light for the night.

"As the sun rose, a fleet of warships was spotted just off-shore. Fearing that they were British, Hull prepared for battle. But as they drew nearer, Hull realized that they were four of the Constitution's sister frigates, returning from a foray into the Caribbean. So the vessels joined in a victory procession that the Constitution led into Boston Harbor, where cheering crowds thronged the waterfront.

"In "1812: The Navy's War", George C. Daughan argues that the young nation's naval victories against the ships of the world's largest imperial power helped establish America as a burgeoning force in the world. With his new, richly detailed, well-documented, and compelling account released in time for the bicentennial, Daughan, a Harvard-trained historian who lives in Portland, Maine, continues the saga he began with his 2008 book, "If By Sea", an account of the American Navy from the Revolution up to 1812.

"Daughan's is a history that expands our understanding, debunking several popular myths, such as that surrounding the heroism of Captain James Lawrence and his famous cry "Don't give up the ship!" uttered as he lay dying on the frigate Chesapeake, pummeled by the British frigate Shannon off Boston Light in June 1813. Daughan notes that Lawrence should not have sought that battle at all, as '(he) was disregarding his orders' to evade the blockade and 'intercept supplies moving to Quebec.'"

"Besides chronicling battles at sea and in the Great Lakes, Daughan also provides solid accounts of the war on land - the burning of Washington by the British, Andrew Jackson's victory at New Orleans, and the ill-advised invasions of Canada.

"Daughan keeps a fairly tight focus on military events, but he also examines how the fallout from battles rippled through the politics of the day, suggesting, for instance, that the elation over the Constitution's naval victory saved President Madison from defeat in the 1812 election by trumping disappointment over that summer's loss of Detroit and other military defeats on the western frontier.

"In the end, this history of an oft-forgotten war holds value for all. The reader who is curious as to just what the coming bicentnnial commemorates will find that curiosity thoroughly satisfied. Readers who have been eagerly awaiting the bicentennial will find in Daughan's "1812" an account that confirms why the conflict merits remembrance - and celebration.

..........Michael Kenney, a Cambridge freelance writer for the Boston Globe

Charleston Post and Courier

"From 1812 to 1814, the outnumbered but undaunted 20-vessel American naval war fleet provided crucial resistence to British territorial designs in North America. This, in what has been termed the second war for independence.

"Awarded the Samuel Eliot Morrison Award in 2008 for his previous book, "If By Sea", George C Daughan again has penned a contributory history that is at once enjoyable to read and informative in its disclousures.

"With considerable skill, the author has interwoven the political strife with the naval actions to form a coherent and well-written story of that important transitional time in American history."

San Francisco Book Review, November 2011

"An American sailor stands with all hands on deck while a skipper of the Royal Navy boards for inspection at the point of broadside cannons. The American admiralty looks askance while his nemesis hauls away his crewmen under the established tradition of British impressment. But, as the man-o'-war sails away, American pride seethes, until the day our country stands up and proves its worth.

"This vivid edition carries us back to the era of Madison when our nation quibbled over whether or not having a navy was a waste of money. Daughan depicts the political climate influenced by the Napoleonic wars, British impressment, and imperialistic ambitions for Canada's porous borders which blended into the tinder box that ignited our second war with England.

"' The rockets red glare illuminating the night sky and the bombs bursting in air inspired an American spectator aboard the 74-gun Minden, Francis Scott Key, to begin a poem that later became the national anthem.'"

"With a sailor's heart, Daughan follows the action of blue water battles on the Great Lakes, deep water fusillades, besieged ports, the razing of our nation's capitol, and the victory at New Orleans that forever earned international respect for American resolve. Expertly researched and illustrated, Daughan recounts the courage and skill of the men who gave birth to the United States Navy."

....................Review by Casey Corthron for The San Francisco Book Review.

Military History Review

"................readers are unlikely to find a more engaging or stirring recounting of the conflict and its place in the rebirth of the U.S. Navy.

"......................Daughan unravels the story of a nation that, without allies, sundered by partisan politics and sporting a military establishment that barely qualified as third-rate, managed to hold its own against the greatest power of the day.

"This finely researched volume is a sequel to (or continuation of) Daughan's award winning: If By Sea:The Forging of the American Navy - From the Revolution to the War of 1812.

"Complementing the well-written and exciting narratives of naval action are concise analyses of the Americans' abortive land campaigns along the Candadian border (necessary toward a full understanding of the conflict along the Great Lakes), the burning of Washington and the final redemption of the U.S. military at New Orleans. Daughan also spends some words on politics and diplomacy."

............... Wade G. Dudley for Military History magazine, Nov 2011.