best books on the war of 1812

12 Best Books On The War Of 1812 [Explore The Epic Battle History]

by Rey Sagar

Have you ever wondered how’s the 1812 war looked like?

If you were, then we have made the list of best books on the war of 1812, where you can get all the information about What was the War of 1812 all about? Who won the War of 1812? Was it Britain/Canada or the US? Or What was the primary cause of the war of 1812?

More on, there are so many things which were happened in the war of 1812.

Which you can find interesting to go through one-by-one.

If you are a little history-curious person, then you might already know why that war begins.

But in the end,

The whole thing was a stalemate.

The USA burned Toronto; the UK burned Washington DC in return (kindly sticking to government buildings and avoiding private property).

The treaty that ended the war does not refer to any change on either side. Nobody gained, and “only” lives were lost.

12 Best Books On The War Of 1812 [That You Should Read]

Before I give you the list of top books on the war of 1812, let's do a little conversation on,

What was the primary cause of the war of 1812?

In June 1812, the United States declared war against Great Britain in reaction to three issues:

  • The British economic blockade of France,
  • The induction of thousands of neutral American seamen into the British Royal Navy against their will,
  • And the British support of hostile Indian tribes along the Great Lakes frontier.

At the outset of the 19th century, Great Britain was locked in a long and bitter conflict with Napoleon Bonaparte's France. In an attempt to cut off supplies from reaching the enemy, both sides attempted to block the United States from trading with the other.

The United States declared war on Britain in 1812.

It did so because Britain refused to stop seizing American ships that traded with France—Britain's enemy in Europe. Sometimes there were also seizures of American sailors. These seizures were known as impressment.

In summary, The immediate causes of the War of 1812 were a series of economic sanctions taken by the British and French against the US as part of the Napoleonic Wars and American outrage at the British practice of impressment, especially after the Chesapeake incident of 1807.

Now let's check out one of the good books on the war of 1812, where you can read the entire war history.

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1. 1812: The War That Forged a Nation

A fantastic read, specifically for someone who is passionate about American history but lacks knowledge greater than a general awareness of where some battles took place and who we fought. Clearly, my passion originated not from the depth of my knowledge.

At least on this topic.

I’ve seen other books that delve deeper into the various conflicts, but 1812 sticks with a mandate to focus on its subheader: The War That Forged A Nation.

It provides great context for how the war was influenced by our status as an “unforged” nation, the men that fought it,

and how they had or would in the future influence our development, and how the war impacted our very constitution as a singular nation instead of a collection of states.

Highly recommend.

Perfect pick for 1812 book

Our Ratings

2. Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans

There is nothing dry about this story of Andrew Jackson and his successful defense of New Orleans against vastly superior British forces in the War of 1812.

Jackson is a populist president who earned his following while saving his country and its future by winning the battle at a time when the country had no experienced generals and was lacking leadership.

At risk is the control of the Mississippi River, which would prevent the country from expanding westward, and the future of the emerging nation.

Highly accessible, Kilmeade-Yaeger’s book differs from most history tomes because it’s so usefully focused.

This book should be required reading for all students!

Great 1812 book, Especially Louisiana students!

All of the residents of New Orleans, this is a book that should be in your library!

One of the best books on the war of 1812

Our Ratings

3. Six Frigates

Magnificent! Reading this vivid, riveting 5-Star account of the US Navy’s birth was often like having a movie playing in my head. The battle scenes are just perfectly done.

Even the 3 day escape of the Constitution from a squadron of British warships was tense and spellbinding, although no significant battle occurred.

While the main focus is the US Navy, the performance of the British Navy is recounted in detail in the final third of the book, making this a very good reference for historians of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy.

One mark of a great history book is the ability to teach and reveal the real truth, vs. what you thought was true. Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy succeeds here at every turn.

I can’t recommend this book enough.

Best books on the war of 1812

Our Ratings

4. Heirs of the Founders

This 1812 book is really comprehensive and well written.

The time period between 1812 and the Civil War is one of the forgotten ages of American history.

Definitely a different take on these characters than studying them in school. Clay comes off as the quintessential politician, always trying to maneuver for advantage.

Calhoun, the original secessionist and by extension, although not covered in the book, a racist. Webster, from my town, an amazing orator but also an opportunist.

With all of their great compromises, cutting the ties of slavery much earlier may or may not have saved everybody a lot of pain.

We’ll never know, but the bitterness of fighting over it for 40 plus years of compromises didn’t help.

The book is well researched and reads more like a novel than dry history.

Civil War & war of 1812 book

Our Ratings

5. American Lion

A solid history of a complicated man. One of the more influential Presidents, Jackson can and should be both praised and condemned.

In many ways, he epitomized our young nation. Problematic, in the extreme, in regard to Native Americans and slaves, energetic, complicated, narcissistic, driven, and not to be trifled with.

Jackson is often revered by Presidents who want to appear both populist and strong.

Jackson, however, is no Trump. With obvious blind spots (Slavery and Natives) he typically acted according to an inner guide.

He felt our nation needed a stronger executive to protect the people from the tyranny of bureaucracy and moneyed interests. He was brutal to anyone who stood in his way.

The book is well written 1812 book. Recommended if you want to know more about this complicated man.

Andrew Jackson presidency & the war of 1812 books

Our Ratings

6. The Civil War of 1812

Alan Taylor’s The Civil War of 1812 reexamines that often-forgotten conflict within a unique, revisionist framework: specifically, that it was as much a continental civil war between different nations and groups competing for space in North America.

Hence, rather than revisiting the familiar arguments about westward expansion and impressing sailors,

Taylor focuses on how the war reopened wounds from the American Revolution:

  • American delusions that Canada was merely an unconquered frontier rather than a distinct nation with its own people (and how Canadian nationalist developed in direct response to this attitude),
  • unsettled conflicts with Native Americans and Loyalist refugees,
  • the political and regional tensions, which often rendered American units more likely to fight each other than the enemy.

The book has a much stronger narrative thrust than Taylor’s usual work, enhancing both its readability and power, showing why the War of 1812 made America stronger as a continental power while also enhancing its deep-hewn divisions.

The book is recommended for people interested in both American and Canadian history.

The Civil War of 1812 book

Our Ratings

7. The Three Lives of James Madison

One of the best biographies you can read to date.

The biography has its strengths in its explanation of Madison’s intellectual development and contribution to legal and political theory (I must wonder if the author found Madison a relatable figure.

Both are relatively scholarly intellectuals who have contributed to constitution-making).

Unlike more popular biographies which focus on relatively irrelevant details (like the subject’s spouse’s ancestors, for example), this biography traces Madison’s life through his ideas.

For a figure like Madison, that is an especially good way to write about his life, since he was first and foremost a man of ideas.

The book is not made longer by long descriptions of the supporting characters. Dolly gets maybe around 10 pages total, and other framers have short pen portraits.

The supporting characters are only mentioned as they intersect Madison’s life, sometimes even dying “off-screen” mentioned in a brief passing note, but I see this as a positive factor.

Great 1812 book.

Discussion od the war of 1812 book

Our Ratings

8. 1812: The Navy's War

This book is well written, Informative and a joy to read. It gives enough detail on the key battles to keep it interesting, w/o getting bogged down in how every single action is taken by every unit involved.

One of the most fascinating aspects for me was the political reasons for the war, and how politics dictated how it was executed on both sides; the USA & the English Empire.

Aside from the pitiful attempts to invade Canada in an attempt to gain leverage in negotiations with England,

The tremendous importance and impact of the US victory at the Battle of New Orleans (which took place after the war had ended {talk about snail mail}) had on the US & British relations after the war, was a real eye-opener.

Those friendly and strong relations have persisted to the present day.

In the last part of the narrative, I want to mention details of how the US Navy went into the Mediterranean and accomplished some amazing results in very short order.

I knocked a one-star off because the author lets his pro-American bias show a bit more often than he should. It doesn’t hurt his credibility, but it was an unnecessary mistake on his part. Still, a great book, and highly recommended to history fans everywhere.

Best books about the war of 1812 Navy

Our Ratings

9. A Sorrow in Our Heart

Eckert writes this biography of Tecumseh in his historical narrative form so that it almost reads as if it were a 678-page novel.

Or it would, if 678-page novels also included 97 pages of Amplification Notes, 11 pages of Principal Sources, 6 pages of Source Codes, 29 pages of Bibliography, and 18 pages of Index.

This gives you an idea of the documented research Eckert did for this narrative.
A drawback for this casual reader of history is my stumbling over the names of Tecumseh’s Indian contemporaries.

I recommend this book for mature readers of history, for a great deal of graphic violence occurred during the life of this Shawnee warrior and leader of Indians from many tribes.

The Life of Tecumseh - also war of 1812 book

Our Ratings

10. The Invasion of Canada

This is more of Canadian history, although unpopular and often forgotten, is actually very fascinating.

Pierre Berton’s books are worthwhile if you want to dive into specific topics of Canadian histories, such as this book does for the first year of the War of 1812.

This War is often misunderstood, and the author does a great job telling the stories of the men who fought to keep Canada from becoming part of the United States, as well as explaining how the presence of the “Indians” at crucial turning points in the conflict prevented the British from losing the war.

Great book about the first half of the war of 1812.

An especially great read if you live in Southern Ontario because you’ll recognize a lot of the places where battles and other important events happened.

Canadian history after the war of 1812

Our Ratings

11. Pierre Berton's War of 1812

This book is by far one of the best books on the war of 1812.

It’s a compilation of two of his history texts; The Invasion of Canada and Flames Across the Border.

Both of these books together cover the entirety of the War of 1812, a conflict between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland, mostly fought in the border regions of the Northern USA and Canada.

This is a complex war, as much of the history is anecdotal, personal, or unwritten.

Berton handles this well, giving each conflict a highly personal feeling, and engaging the reader in both the overarching history and strategy and the individual perspective of each area of the conflict.

Highly recommended for history lovers.

Pierre Berton continues to receive recognition of his extraordinary contribution to Canada’s national history, and deservedly so.

The War of 1812 is well written, well researched and readable.

One of the best books on the war of 1812

Our Ratings

12. The Weight of Vengeance

If you are only ever going to read one book of Canadian History, this should be it.

This is a fast-paced, thrilling story of larger than life characters, heroes, villains, and ordinary people all caught up in a war that shaped the destiny of a continent.

Berton is a brilliant storyteller, he writes his history in a way that reads much more like a novel, which includes dialogue, except it is all taken straight from the actual documents and journals of the people he quotes.

This book is actually two books: the first one covers the first half of the War of 1812, and is largely centered on the personality of Sir Isaac Brock and the Shawnee chief Tecumseh (both of whom are killed in the war).

The second half picks up the story in 1813 and continues it until the war ends with the Treaty of Gent in 1815.

Both books are excellent; but the first is probably slightly better; Berton’s treatment of the Battle of Queenston Heights is the highlight of it all.

Historians will quibble about minor details or errors in Berton’s books, but overall they are peerless in the field of Canadian history.

Berton's war of 1812 books

Our Ratings

Important Note: If you already have a bunch of books and wondering how to manage them properly, then you might need a bookshelf to do that. I use it myself, and it’s amazing, looks also beautiful, you can check out our list if you want to get one.

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Final Overview

So you got the list of best books about the war of 1812 now let me give you the biggest answer of the war.

Who won the War of 1812? Was it Britain/Canada or the US?


It was a draw. The treaty that ended it agreed that nothing would change on either side. Nobody won or lost anything, except lives and money.

The British burned Washington in retaliation for the Americans burning Toronto. They kindly avoided private residences and stuck to government buildings, however.

The nascent US Navy shocked the British Royal Navy by winning a number of single-ship actions by having better-made ships and better morale among the sailors.

However, most of the Royal Navy was off fighting Napoleon. If they had brought their full fleet against the USA, the US wouldn’t have had a rowboat to call its own.

Seriously, the whole thing was a needless tragedy that accomplished nothing.

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