Book Review: The Dawn’s Early Light by Walter Lord (Four Stars)

Book Review: The Dawn’s Early Light by Walter Lord

Four Stars

“The Americans always cheat us.” Henry Goulburn, British peace negotiator in Paris

Enjoyable and readable popular history of the last year of the War of 1812. Takes the reader into the hearts and minds of the participants. Jumps back and forth between the sides, magnifying the crossed purposes and misinformation each side labored under.

“In the end it was not British skill but American ineptitude that settled the matter.”

Minutely researched but reads like fiction. Lacks detailed references, so more for information and pleasure reading than for research. Lord did a lot of research. It shows. Included is what really happened to Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington.

“The country with all its beauty of scenery is not fit for the habitation of social man.” GB Fleet Captain Codrington

Some things never change: politicians gauge policy by popularity, routine fabrications and falsehoods on the press, popular complacency and panic mood swings, rulers blamed or credited for mistakes and achievements of others, everyone ignores real information in preference for that which supports their mood of the moment. Sounds a lot like today, doesn’t it?

“I have never seen a Kentuckian without a gun and a pack of cards and a bottle of whiskey in my life.” Andrew Jackson, upon learning that the Kentucky militia arrived in New Orleans without guns.

This Open Roads edition: apparently converted to epub by Optical Character Scanning, but inadequately proofread.

“It is my desire to have a flag so large that the British will have no difficulty in seeing it from a distance.” Major George Armistead, US commander of Fort McHenry