A book by Hourly History
There are a handful of companies that produce inexpensive eBooks in mass quantities to varying degrees of success. For example, I felt that the book on The Mormon Wars I read a few months ago, by Charles River Editors was actually fairly well done; there are, however, others that seem to make money from selling edited Wikipedia articles that I will not mention. Hourly History sits somewhere in the middle of the cheap eBook spectrum – they are adequate books with decent information if one wants a general overview for a high school level understanding of a historical event. I knew this going in, and was using this as a way to look for other specialized books to look into.
“In 1812, Americans held two distinctly different visions of their country. Some saw growing production, manufactures, trade, and merchant ships traversing the globe bringing a vast array of staple and luxury goods to commercial centers and riches to American captains living in cities like the capitals of Europe. Others saw a vast agrarian paradise spreading from the eastern coast into the western wilderness where innumerable American farmers and their families could be independent and equal, free of government impediments and corruption. These incompatible visions of America were held by two opposing political parties. The two halves of America also had incompatible views on the necessity of war that year. Only the Democratic-Republicans were anxious to march into Canada, seize Florida, and take all the western lands they could win or negotiate. Canada survived, but the indigenous peoples, despite their prodigious efforts to get a voice at the peace treaty table, failed to preserve their cultures, as they foresaw would happen.”
The book contains a few instances of fake historical facts made popular by school textbooks. For example, this book talks about the legendary heroism of First Lady Dolley Madison and her credit for single-handedly saving the famous portrait of George Washington from a Burning White House when the British attacked the Capitol in 1814. Rolled up in her blouse, the painting, (and Madison for that matter!) barely made it out intact! Or so they say. Sadly, this is not really what happened, and can be chalked up beside the Paul Revere Midnight Ride as a bit of American Mythology we should probably not teach anymore. We now know that Dolley Madison knew well beforehand about the attack and had her slave, Paul Jennings, and a couple of French cooks take important artifacts out of the house. This is no deal-breaker, but I was hoping for more from a book meant for educational purposes. This leads me to believe that whatever un-cited source used for this book was likely old and outdated.
If you literally know nothing about the War of 1812, as most people sadly don’t, this book is a good way to get general facts with a short page count and generally okay information. From this book, I got some ideas about reading a book I purchased about Tecumseh and some other 1812-era Indian battles in and around my area (well, St. Louis I suppose). If you are looking to become knowledgeable about this time in history, I’d recommend finding a book from an expert or journalist as they are always better and more informative than something like this. In closing, I appreciate this book for what it is, but wish it could have been a bit better. That said, it was free so I can’t complain too much.
This review is part of my 2021 series History Boy Summer, which you can read more of following this LINK.