I have listened to this book, and I can recommend it. It illuminates a period of American history often neglected. The period between its founding in idealistic principles, and its subsequent reorganization into a stronger Federal government (where Madison played a strong role) – and then its gradual absorption into Industrialization.
It thought of itself, early in the 19th Century, as a strong new power – when in fact it was only a minor player. The result was a war with Great Britain – when it was becoming the strongest power in the world – and was building the British Empire.
America was lucky to win a draw – which left it bankrupt – but, in its own eyes – a nation of destiny.
The War sharpened some distinctions that would become more prominent in the Civil War – the differences between the North and the South.
The North was never in favor of the war – and Yankee farmers continued to sell their produce to the enemy – because they could pay for them with hard money. The war in the North was one disaster after another. Americans never understood their Canadian brethren – and their policy of gradual independence. Americans were always in favor of war – no matter what.
The American navy, although hugely outnumbered, gave a good account of itself.
The British attack on Washington was an outstanding success for them – entirely due to the poor military defensive planning in that area. The account of how this happened (despite Madison and Monroe’s strenuous efforts) is one of the best parts of the book.
The attack on Baltimore (by contrast) was a failure – because it was well-defended.
The Battle of New Orleans was one of the few American successes – and paved the way for Andrew Jackson’s eventual presidency.