Michael Patrick Brady

Books

Union 1812: The Americans Who Fought the Second War of Independence | A.J. Langguth

January 21, 2008

My review of Union 1812: The Americans Who Fought the Second War of Independence by A.J. Langguth ran today at PopMatters.

This book is an incredibly fun read. As I note in my review, Langguth’s goal is to make his depiction of history read like a novel, and at this he succeeds. It’s an excellent exploration, not just of the War of 1812, but also the early fits and starts that threatened the unity of the nation and led to the adoption of the U.S. Constitution.

It’s also a startling reminder that although we often view the our Founding Fathers and early Americans in an idealized, pure way, they were just as complicated and partisan as those of us who benefited from their efforts.

The way political campaigns were conducted back then aren’t much different than they are today. Plenty of name-calling, mud-slinging, the implications of impropriety and the crass manipulation (and outright orchestration) of the media; it all started with our noble forefathers.

Although, back then, they often chose to settle such arguments with duels. At first glance, it might seem that our current political situation in the U.S. would benefit from the reintroduction of dueling. However, the record shows that more often than not, the contestant of superior intellect and character (Hamilton, Decatur) wound up on the losing end of the pistol.

[tags]Union 1812, A.J. Langguth, The War of 1812, U.S. Constitution[/tags]

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