Book Reviews

Read a good book lately?  We want to hear about it! 

One of the missions of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is to disseminate information and understanding about Lake Champlain’s history, environment, culture and lore.  In an effort to make information about the lake more accessible, we have reserved this space on our Blog for book reviews, hoping that participants will help us build a bibliography of readings related to the lake.  We invite you to contribute to this project whenever you come across a book or article you believe others would find interesting or useful.  By opening this forum to everyone, we hope to develop the widest most extensive listing available.  More importantly, we hope that it will be easy to use for teachers, students and the public at large who are interested in learning more about the rich heritage of the Lake Champlain region.   Periodically we will compile all these book reviews into topical bibliographies.

To make the listings easy to search, we ask that you use this basic format for your review:

Title: Author: Publisher: Publication Date

Summary – Begin with a brief summary of the book’s content: important events, people, places.

Response – What did you think of the book: general impression, interest level, quality of writing, surprising facts or point of view, questions raised or answered, etc.

Recommendation – who would enjoy or find this book useful?   

Ready to Enter your Book Review? Just type your text in the comment box below and click “Leave a Reply”.

4 Responses to Book Reviews

  1. Richard Isenberg says:

    1812: The War That Forged A Nation
    Walter R. Borneman
    Harper Perennial, 2004

    Summary: This is a comprehensive overview of the events leading up to the War of 1812 and the war itself. It describes the major battles and naval engagements, but more interestingly discusses the social/political context in which these events occurred. Of particular interest was the important role played by the “Westerners” and how the war advanced their goals of claiming both Canada and the lands held by First Nations people.

    Response: I became most interested in many of the minor characters who both advanced and impeded the war effort. Many of the leaders had begun their careers during the Revolutionary War. Many future leaders began their careers with the War of 1812 and continued to contribute throughout the Nineteenth Century – several became presidents or important military leaders. It also presents a pretty well balanced presentation of both the American and British views of the war and the shocking level of incompetence on both sides. Although the war appears to have accomplished very little, the author makes a good case to support his title – that the war “forged a nation.” Prior to the war we were a collection of united states; after the war we were a single nation.

    Recommendation: This was an engaging read as an introduction to the war. Borneman has an easy style appropriate for intermediate to advanced readers. There are numerous maps and illustrations that support the text. This would be a good place to start to identify specific areas for more scholarly future reading.

  2. Milde Waterfall says:

    This review engaged my interest and has inspired me to go get the book. The War of 1812 gets little attention here in Virginia and the book makes me want to know more. Certainly the part played by the “Westerners” is very intriguing.

  3. Richard Isenberg says:

    The War of 1812 in the Champlain Valley
    Allen S. Everest
    Syracuse University Press, 1981

    The Champlain Valley was one of the major invasion routes available for both belligerents during the War of 1812. Everest gives a detailed chronology of events leading up to and through the conflict. He discusses the broader context of the war as well as specific houses, roads, and rivers where major local events occurred. While the reader often needs to be introduced for the first time to some of the characters and actions he describes, many of the places are familiar and still exist largely unchanged.

    This is a scholarly treatment of the people, places and events that took place in the region during the war. It is not terribly exciting to read cover to cover, but is well organized with a good index for research on specific topics of interest.

  4. Richard Isenberg says:

    The Eagle: An American Brig on Lake Champlain during the War of 1812
    Kevin J. Chrisman
    The New England Press, 1987

    The Eagle was one of the four major vessels in the American fleet that fought the Battle of Plattsburgh. It was built in the summer of 1814 in a remarkable 19 days. Part 1 of the book gives a thorough description of the War of 1812, especially events in the Champlain Valley, leading up to and following that engagement. Part 2 give a detailed account of the archaeology that was done in locating, analyzing and documenting the remains of the fleet in the Poultney River, of which the author was a key participant.

    The first part of this book is technically detailed, but very readable. It does an excellent job setting the context of the war, describing the art of ship building in this time period, and chronicling the creation and ultimate decay of the American fleet on Lake Champlain. The second half of the book is more technical, but an excellent case study of marine archeology methodology. There are numerous illustrations and maps that help clarify the more technical aspects of the text.

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