Mr. and Mrs. Madison Go to War

January 3, 2012

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From the Bloomsbury Press catalog . . . 

August 28, 1814.Dressed in black, James Madison mourns the nation’s loss. Smoke rises from the ruin of the Capitol before him; a mile away stands the blackened shell of the White House. The British have laid waste to Washington City, and as Mr. Madison gazes at the terrible vista, he ponders the future — his country’s defeat or victory — in a war he began over the unanimous objections of his political adversaries.

As we celebrate its bicentennial, the War of 1812 remains the least understood of America’s wars. To some it was a conflict that resolved nothing, but to others, it was our second war of independence, settling once and for all that America would never again submit to Britain. At its center was James Madison—our most meditative of presidents, yet the first one to declare war. And at his side was the extraordinary Dolley, who defined the role of First Lady for all to follow, and would prove perhaps her husband’s most indispensable ally.

In this powerful new work, drawing on countless primary sources, acclaimed historian Hugh Howard presents a gripping account of the conflict as James and Dolley Madison experienced it. Mr. and Mrs. Madison’s War rediscovers a conflict fought on land and sea, from the shores of the Potomac to the Great Lakes, that proved to be a critical turning point in American history.

A sampling of the reviews:

“An entertaining look at the forgotten war, the burning of Washington, and the fourth president’s none-too-effective efforts to command the military.”  — Military History Quarterly

Mr. and Mrs. Madison’s War has a wonderful visual quality that allowed me to feel I was standing on the deck the HMS Confiance as Captain Downie was struck by a canon barrel and mingling with members of congress at one of Dolley Madison’s Wednesday gatherings.”  –Patricia O’Sullivan, Historical Novel Society

“Hugh Howard tackles the history of a war that is incomprehensible in the modern sense of warfare and renders it understandable, giving a fascinating and engaging account of the people and events involved in America’s first war.  Mr. and Mrs. Madison’s War will add enormously to public understanding of the War of 1812.” —Michael Quinn, President, James Madison’s Montpelier

“Howard’s descriptions, e.g., of the burning of Washington, are superb, as is his use of primary sources throughout. Highly recommended to all readers on this war’s bicentennial.” — Library Journal

“As we begin to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, author Hugh Howard brings that very different world alive in Mr. and Mrs. Madison’s War, an engrossing narrative history of a conflict that few today know much about. Howard ranges widely, as the war did, from the Great Lakes to New Orleans to the Mid-Atlantic Coast. His descriptions of the human carnage during the naval battles are particularly dramatic and moving.” — Bookpage

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