Unshackling America: How the War of 1812 Truly Ended the American Revolution

Willard Sterne Randall. St. Martin’s, $29.99 (464p) ISBN 978-1-250-11183-8
In this detailed, if occasionally dense, account, Randall (Ethan Allen: His Life and Times), professor emeritus of history at Champlain College, argues that the War of 1812 was not a discrete conflict, but rather the culmination of a long struggle for U.S. economic independence that began with the American Revolution. Even after America gained its political freedom, post-Revolution tensions with Britain made the young republic a place of uneasy peace. As Randall demonstrates, British restrictions concerning the transportation of British goods put economic pressure on the U.S., leading to clashes over issues that included naval impressment and retaliatory smuggling. Revisiting such famous events as the Chesapeake affair, in which a British ship fired on and mustered an American crew, Randall brings to life the violent skirmishes that played out in the name of trade on sea, lake, and land. Although his account covers mostly well-trod historical territory, it nonetheless helps elucidate the complex international entanglements that shaped both the revolutionary period and its aftermath. At times, sudden leaps in time and place can make the narrative hard to follow, but readers interested in the minutiae of military history will invariably find something of interest here. Agent: Don Fehr, Trident Media. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2017
Release date: 06/27/2017
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