Read The Invasion of Canada: 1812-1813 by Pierre Berton Online


To America's leaders in 1812, an invasion of Canada seemed to be "a mere matter of marching," as Thomas Jefferson confidently predicted. How could a nation of 8 million fail to subdue a struggling colony of 300,000? Yet, when the campaign of 1812 ended, the only Americans left on Canadian soil were prisoners of war. Three American armies had been forced to surrender, and tTo America's leaders in 1812, an invasion of Canada seemed to be "a mere matter of marching," as Thomas Jefferson confidently predicted. How could a nation of 8 million fail to subdue a struggling colony of 300,000? Yet, when the campaign of 1812 ended, the only Americans left on Canadian soil were prisoners of war. Three American armies had been forced to surrender, and the British were in control of all of Michigan Territory and much of Indiana and Ohio.In this remarkable account of the war's first year and the events that led up to it, Pierre Berton transforms history into an engrossing narrative that reads like a fast-paced novel. Drawing on personal memoirs and diaries as well as official dispatches, the author has been able to get inside the characters of the men who fought the war — the common soldiers as well as the generals, the bureaucrats and the profiteers, the traitors and the loyalists.Berton believes that if there had been no war, most of Ontario would probably be American today; and if the war had been lost by the British, all of Canada would now be part of the United States. But the War of 1812, or more properly the myth of the war, served to give the new settlers a sense of community and set them on a different course from that of their neighbours....

Title : The Invasion of Canada: 1812-1813
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780385658393
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Invasion of Canada: 1812-1813 Reviews

  • Will
    2019-03-01 03:04

    I think that without question this is the finest history book I've ever read.Allow me to qualify:The narrative thrill of McCullough or Shelby Foote, the insight of Ellis or Remini, Pierre Berton manages to tell you everything you need to know in half a page, dripping with excitement and insight, yet somehow leaving nothing out.So what is this book about? The book covers the first amazing and turbulent year of the War of 1812, focusing on the engagements in the "Northwest", really meaning today's upper-Midwest: Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, New York, and adjacent portions of Southern Canada, called Upper Canada at the time. Readers will meet an amazing pantheon of figures, such as Tecumseh, Issac Brock, Winfield Scott, William Henry Harrison, and many others. Honestly the book is wonderful enough that I'm unable to tell you much more than that if you consider yourself a fan of history at ALL, then you should consider this a book that you need to read as soon as possible. I mean it when I say I think this is the best history book I've ever read, and this comes from a very serious amateur historian. Outstanding!

  • jerry
    2019-03-19 07:11

    It's interesting to read Berton's account of the start of the War of 1812. As he sees it, it was a reluctant war from both the British and American perspective and only fought to a stalemate because of the involvement on both sides, of native North Americans. The most significant thing to emerge from the war, according to Berton, was Canadian nationalism, aligned with British governmental values - the values that to this day make Canada at it's core a very different place from the US.

  • Tiffany
    2019-03-16 02:41

    The Invasion of Canada by Pierre Berton is a book that is about the War of 1812. It is a history about what caused the war, how and when the war was declared, the Canadian viewpoint, and why it is so important to remember. It is a book that acknowledges the legends that arose out of the ashes of this war, and either embellishes upon them or destroys them entirely with the true historical accounts.I loved this book for what it represented. A book that discussed all the finer details of the War of 1812. It teaches us about Canada's war history, acknowledging that while we were a British colony, that the Canadian colonists had a very important role to play throughout this war. It was, in the words of a historian 'a war that allowed Canadians to defend our version of liberty'.The War of 1812 holds a very special place in my heart. I spent nearly half of my childhood close to Niagara Falls, and was always entranced about this history. As a consequence, I knew more about this war than most of my classmates did, especially after I moved three and a half hours away from Niagara Falls. I always thought it to be a great shame that most of my classmates (and now most children) know next to nothing about the War of 1812. I have always said that if it involves Canada, then it is worth learning about, and as the War of 1812 was about Canada, involved Canada, and had seen conflict IN Canada, then this is very important history that most school teachers refuse to teach.It is very rare to find a historian writing about the War of 1812 from the Canadian perspective. I think most Canadians are stuck in the old ways of telling stories to each other, and prefer to tell our own history through word of mouth instead of providing a book that discusses this history. It's a great shame that there aren't enough books out there that can provide us all with a good way to research this war, and it is something that is sadly beginning to bite us.Though, let it be said that I don't care what history tells us, and what Pierre Berton states in his book- Sir Isaac Brock rocks!One thing that I really appreciated about Berton's work, though. Is being reintroduced to all the players of the War of 1812. Most of them I remembered, some of them I have forgotten. I once lived in a house that was just a mere walk from a war cemetery filled with American soldiers that have been sadly forgotten in history. On the other side of that house, also a mere walk away, is a larger cemetery that has some British/Canadian soldiers buried. Most of whom have also been forgotten by history. It is definitely a war that has intrigued me since childhood, and I am very happy that I found a good sound book that provides all the historical details surrounding that war.

  • Sarah
    2019-02-23 08:59

    I picked this one up hoping to learn a bit more about the War of 1812, and this came highly recommended. I can see why- it's very people focused, and the style is fairly engaging considering the subject matter. I also enjoyed reading a book from the Canadian perspective on the war.However, it just didn't wind up sucking me in, and while I went in knowing this was the first of a two volume series, it still felt really unfinished at the end. The whole book felt a bit like the intro to a longer work, rather than something complete in itself.

  • Ben
    2019-03-19 02:49

    Harkening to the days when the hilarious fiction imagined by South Park and Canadian Bacon was actually reality: war between the U.S. and Canada. Fascinating, really, not as a sweeping military epic, but as a case study of how history is often made by the blunders of the incompetent. In the three primary military engagements described in these pages (Detroit, Queenston Heights, Frenchtown), the American forces should have easily prevailed owing to an overwhelming advantage in men and supplies, and the fact that the best of Britain's military was engaged in Europe fighting Napoleon. Unfortunately for the Americans, however, they were also blighted with incompetent leaders whose indecision, cowardice, lack of adequate planning, political infighting and poor internal communication doomed their troops to losses in all three battles and, in the case of Frenchtown, hundreds of dead. Of course, in a grand, geopolitical sense, this war was pretty insignificant, and it is fairly obscure as far as American history is concerned. Yet, there is a symbolic element that has sustained in the odd landscape that is Canadian identity. To be Canadian, in large part, is defined negatively: what we are not. And what are we not? In a word: Americans. The whole premise is to convince ourselves and the world that we are a unique people on the North American continent, and not the mere mini-me of the American gargantuan. For many Canadians, the idea of becoming assimilated, culturally and/or politically, by the United States is a horrifying thought, one that we must diligently fight to prevent. In support of this "war" for Canadian uniqueness, we have the convenient history of an actually military engagement in which our brave boys repelled the invading American hordes. Of course, we usually neglect to mention that the outcome was a function more of military buffoonery by the enemy, and not glorious might on our side. Whatever. We'll take what we can get.

  • Kevin
    2019-03-17 09:46

    An interesting account of the War of 1812 only as it took place along the borders of the US Midwest/the Niagara River and Upper Canada (Ontario). Pierre Burton was a celebrated Canadian novelist who used mostly primary sources from soldiers, politicians, etc. in putting together this account of what he characterizes a pointless war. Canadians typically think that "Canada" won the war (though the Dominion of Canada was formed only in 1867) whereas Americans typically think that they won the war. This book pretty much makes losers of both sides, noting that those with the biggest stake in the war were the Indians, and we all know how things turned out for them. I enjoyed the beginning most, where he talks of the causes of the war, Tippecanoe, and the roots of the legendary Native American Tecumse.

  • Cheesecake
    2019-03-08 09:00

    I remember falling asleep in my Canadian History classes in Elementary and High School. If only they had made it as interesting as Pierre Burton does in these books. Not just a dried up memorization of dates and names of people I couldn't care less about. Mr. Berton's books bring the conflict and all it's intrigue to life! My brother-in-law who got his PHD in Canadian history blah blah blah, poo-poos these books. I think he mistakes the strength of these books. To bring Canadian History to life for people who don't want to take classes in it in University, is a gift. Like how Carl Sagan brought the universe to life for us layman who struggle with math, in the 1980's. It's not historical fiction. It's history from the perspective of the people who lived it.

  • Malcolm
    2019-03-01 10:07

    Volume one of Pierre Bertons two volume series about the War of 1812. This book is historically correct but focuses not on telling us every detail of the war, but rather tells us about the soldiers, political people, and ordinary people caught up in war. Pierre Berton, now sadly deceased, was Canda's most prolific writer of popular History. Both this book, and volume two "Flames Across the Border," are wonderful reads.

  • Ryan Peden
    2019-03-22 05:04

    Great book about the first half of the war of 1812. An especially great read if you live in Southern Ontario, because you'll recognize a lot of the places where battles and other important events happened.

  • Debbie
    2019-03-11 07:51

    Great book along with it's sequel Flames across the Border which cronicle the War of 1812. Sounds boring but in Berton's capable hands is anything but.

  • Bob
    2019-03-05 08:09

    Berton conjures an array of diaries, letters, and official documents into a riveting novel-like narrative. This is historical writing at its best, in my opinion.

  • Vanessa
    2019-03-08 10:09

    like a Jerry Bruckheimer flick!

  • Doug Mcnair
    2019-03-01 05:59

    Entertaining short history of the land campaigns in Upper Canada in 1812. The book's key contribution for American audiences is its elucidation of how the the war forged Canada into a separate nation founded on principles that were different from and even in opposition to those of the United States. Before the war, Canada's white population was sparse and in danger of being overwhelmed by cross-border migration of US citizens searching for cheap land. Thus, Canada was already in danger of being absorbed into the United States not by conquest but by osmosis. But the war [which was highly unpopular on both sides of the border, as it was pushed by Southern war hawks (not the borderers themselves) and fought for over issues that had nothing to do with Upper Canada] stopped that migration and forced Canadians to defend themselves against invasion. The ensuing battles gave Canada its first great war hero (General Isaac Brock) and birthed the myth that the Americans were repelled not by British Redcoats and their Native American allies but by Canadian citizen-soldier militias led by officers drawn from the British aristocracy. This forged feelings of solidarity and a sense of Canadian national identity and culture that had not existed before -- in particular, a culture founded on ideals of order and stability held by the British aristocracy, not the ideal of liberty cherished by the US. As the author puts it:"Thus the key words in Upper Canada were 'loyalty' and 'patriotism': loyalty to the British way of life as opposed to American 'radical' democracy and republicanism. Brock -- the man who wanted to establish martial law and abandon habeas corpus -- represented these virtues... He came to represent Canadian order as opposed to American anarchy: "Peace, Order, and Good Government" rather than the more hedonistic "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." Had not Upper Canada been saved from the invader by appointed leaders who ruled autocratically? In America, the politicians became generals; in British North America, the opposite held true."This attitude -- that the British way of life is preferable to the American; that certain sensitive positions are better filled by appointment than by election; that order imposed from above has advantages over grassroots democracy (for which, read 'license' or 'anarchy'); that a ruling elite often knows better than the body politic -- flourished as a result of an invasion repelled. Out of it, shaped by an emerging nationalism and tempered by rebellion, grew that special form of state paternalism that makes the Canadian way of life significantly different from the more individualistic American way."

  • Ken Peters
    2019-03-11 08:57

    I have always wondered about the War of 1812. I've known virtually nothing about it, learning nothing about it in Michigan (where I grew up, near where much of the war occurred) except that, "Oh yeah. We [the U.S.] won that war," and learning little more in Canada (once I got here as a young teen) except that, "Oh yeah. We [Canada] won that war." Well, I've picked up enough information over the years since then to know that Canada, in fact, did successfully repel America's attempt to invade Canada, so it could at least be said that Canada didn't lose that war, though whether or not anyone won it seems dubious. But I still lacked details. Then I discovered Pierre Berton's two-volume explanation of the War of 1812 and having immensely enjoyed the previous Pierre Berton book I read (Vimy), I bought it! I haven't been disappointed, as Berton writes in a way that draws you into the lives of the characters as much as into the historical events they're involved in, creating real empathy and suspense in his historical accounts.

  • Ron
    2019-03-18 07:53

    Brilliant as always from Pierre Berton. the author brings history alive using diaries and official correspondence in the first year of the War of 1812. The British, Americans and natives are shown in all their colours, both good and bad. Even though Berton was of a liberal bent, he does not shirk from reporting the inconvenient facts. The Indian massacre of American militia in Frenchtown, Michigan for example. Try finding that in a textbook now. Yet Tecumseh is portrayed as a visionary who wanted a united homeland and so allied with the British (who had their own agenda)An excellent depiction of the Battle of Queenston Heights near Niagara Falls makes me want to drop by there soon.

  • Aria Maher
    2019-03-20 03:01

    An exhaustive description of the invasion of Canada between the years 1812 and 1813. This book was very extensive and detailed, and did a very good job at capturing the characters of various important figures and battles in the War of 1812. Maybe it's just me, but I did find it to be a bit long-winded. However, history is not my favorite subject, so this is probably just my personal preference. A very good book over all.

  • Who
    2019-02-28 05:03

    History writ as a smooth butter from the fictionalized perspectives of participants. Quite possibly the greatest work of Canadian history I've ever read

  • Jim
    2019-02-27 06:55

    Really enjoyed this. Exceeded expectations.

  • Leah Markum
    2019-02-26 05:49

    My mom has been pestering me to read Pierre Berton's books for many years. I can see why he's a favorite among Canadians and history lovers in general. He strung together dozens of sources and put them in a narrative that reads fast, full of character and characters, ground-level perspective that allows for an intimate understanding of the underlying events behind the North American War of 1812, yet weaves in vocabulary lessons. Unlike my American history classes (I grew up in the U.S.), I'll remember the stories within this book whether it's General Brock's gutsy strategy at Fort Detroit, the living conditions for the poorly prepared American soldiers, General Hull who surrendered to spare lives but was tried for treason because of it, or the named individuals who were captured by the Natives.Much of the book follows the American perspective and all the blunders that came from enthusiasm and no discipline, no planning, and leadership based on popularity (generals reliving their revolutionary glory days) instead of skill. The most horrendous events that year were done to themselves.The modern Canada exists thanks to the War of 1812. Before this conflict there was no effective border between Upper Canada and the United States. Most Canadians were also Americans, but lived in a more dispersed region. Most Canadians had no interest in war. Americans thought it would be easy to annex Canada and irk back the British for blocking trade with continental Europe. In her interest to be left alone to mostly farm instead of being the neutral battle ground for two powerful nations, Canada had the chance to look at herself and look at her two most associated countries: how was Canada different? What traits from either country did Canada matter? For a Canadian, what was loyalty and patriotism? In the first year of this ill-thought out war, one can see how Canadians always had a more peaceful mindset than their southern cousins, but also had the superior leadership of Isaac Brock (page 313):"He came to represent Canadian order as opposed to American anarchy - 'peace, order and good government' rather than the more hedonistic 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.' Had not Upper Canada been saved from the invader by appointed leaders who ruled autocratically? In America, the politicians became generals; in British North American, the opposite held true."

  • Kimberly
    2019-03-04 04:06

    This book is a popular history which follows the first year of the War of 1812. Berton deals with the complex political situations which led to war and the reluctance with which the commanders went to the front. Initially neither side wanted to fight, and both sought a peaceful resolution. However after a few skirmishes and battles both sides became more active in the war effort. The British resolved to fight a defensive war, but the Americans went on the offensive several times and fought on Canadian soil. Each side had a couple of decent officers, but tended to be run by elderly men from the Revolutionary Era who should not have been in command. Brock and Harrison seemed to be the most dynamic commanders. The Americans lost several battles, at Detroit, Niagara, and Frenchtown before the winter freeze set in and made fighting impossible. They didn't manage to sweep through Upper Canada like they planned, and the war dragged on for two more years.

  • Joseph
    2019-03-10 02:47

    First of two volumes. Principally covers the war itself - preparations, battles, individual experiences, some historical assessments, but is extremely cursory on the geopolitics and has nothing to say about what the British Government is thinking, and very little on Washington. War may be politics by other means, but Berton has chosen to ignore the politics almost completely, at least in the first volume. That said, it remains a good, popular read, with much buckling of swash balanced by judgements regarding the relative significance of major players, starting with Isaac Brock, Tecumseh, Sir George Prevost, the Governor General of the Canadas, and Americans such as Henry Clay. And btw, just about all of the dramatis personae of note are Brits or Americans. Berton attributes to their struggles the creation of early Upper Canada nationalism.

  • ScottFletcher
    2019-03-14 04:49

    Certainly a 'product of its time' - that being said, I do appreciate Berton's expression of regret at the lack extant [written] indigenous records or material; however, that doesn't mean that these narratives can then be fabricated or otherwise illustrated with clearly biased or racist colonial accounts. While Berton does try to give the indigenous their due credit - it is unlikely British/Canadian forces would have 'won' without them - this is undermined by his penchant to paint as 'civilized' (European) leaders like Tecumseh. If you're looking for a factual account of these events, look elsewhere.

  • Catherine
    2019-03-24 02:58

    I have edited my review after realizing late last night that I am missing the second half of his portrayal of the War of 1812!! This book was not intended to include the latter part of the war which was my mistake. Taking that into account I have bumped up my review to a 4 /5.This book was good; and accurately portrayed the nature of Brock and Techumseh. I enjoyed the extra information provided about them as well as the illustrative depiction of Brock's death. It also included details about other interesting parties involved. very enjoyable.I am now looking to purchase a copy of Flames Across the Boarder in the new paperback edition... which apparently is quite difficult to find...

  • Greg Perowne
    2019-02-26 07:04

    Magnificent. The finest history book I've read. Despite on page 1 informing the reader that this is a minor war, one in which neither of the participants wanted to fight and characterized above all by incompetent leaders, by page 10 I was completely hooked and impatient to learn more. Berton has an incredible ability to bring his narrative to the right level in order to perfectly understand the larger context behind what is going on in addition to going down to the people involved and painting a picture to understand why they take their often headscratching decisions.

  • Tanya
    2019-03-20 10:03

    I'm a bit embarrassed that as a Canadian History focused university student, this was my first journey with Mr. Berton. I understand now why Berton is considered such a treasure to Canadian history. The amount of research that went into this work on the first year of the War of 1812 is utterly astounding. Berton manages to source the lead resources and minor tales of minor people, using it all to colour a story that hardly feels like one is reading history. I look forward to the next part.

  • Julie Feher
    2019-03-08 09:44

    This one passed across the desk and since next year is the bicentenial, I thought I'd give it a read. It started off well but became bogged down a bit in the middle for me (a bit of the ol' too much information, not enough action). It was very good though and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the part Amherstburg plyed in it; gives a whole new reason to appreciate the town and surrounding areas.

  • J
    2019-03-06 03:53

    7/10 This is a solid history of why the War of 1812 happened and details on the early battles. Maybe the Canadian author is biased for the Canadians, but USA was rather inept during this war so maybe it's not bias but brutal honesty. This only covers the first year of the war, but it does quickly explain the ending of the war. I wish the author had gone on to cover the rest of the war more.

  • Bill V
    2019-02-24 10:49

    This is a great, concise, engaging and easy to read account of a part of the War of 1812. My only criticism is that it treats in detail the fighting in and around Canada from 1812 through early 1813.

  • Marco den Ouden
    2019-02-25 05:50

    Berton is a compelling historian in that his research includes diaries of both major and minor players in the events he writes about and this let's him get a real feel for the events and how they affected the players.

  • David
    2019-03-13 07:10

    Learned a lot about this periodI liked how the author incorporated the human aspects of the battles and events. Sharing not only the viscous side of Indians during their fight for survival but their softer human side. I just felt I learned a lot about this period.