When Britain Burned the White House

The 1814 Invasion of Washington

Peter Snow

Thomas Dunne Books

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In August 1814, the world’s foremost military power defeated the US army just outside Washington DC. The president and his wife had just enough time to escape the White House before the British invaders entered. With dinner still sitting on the dining-room table, the British troops dined before setting the White House on fire. The tide of the War of 1812 quickly turned, however, at The Battle of Fort McHenry, where it was America who stood victorious.

In his compelling narrative style, Peter Snow recounts the fast-changing fortunes of this summer's extraordinary confrontations, the outcome of which inspired the writing of our national anthem. With a wealth of material including eyewitness accounts, he also describes the colorful personalities on both sides of these spectacular events: Britain’s fiery Admiral Cockburn, the cautious but immensely popular army commander Robert Ross, and sharp-eyed diarists James Scott and George Gleig. On the American side: beleaguered President James Madison and First Lady Dolley, military heroes such as Joshua Barney and Sam Smith, and flawed incompetents like Army Chief William Winder and War Secretary John Armstrong.

When Britain Burned the White House highlights this unparalleled moment in American history, its far-reaching consequences, and Britain’s and America’s decision to never again fight each other. 

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Reviews

Praise for When Britain Burned the White House

“Peter Snow's account of this extraordinary event in British-American relations reads like a military thriller, each chapter raising the tension with a mass of detail and a kaleidoscope of characters who transform this book from what could have been a dry, chronological account into a riveting romp . . . Snow adds an extra ingredient - a boyish enthusiasm for his subject . . . a meticulous and fascinating account”—The Times (UK)

“Snow builds his account on the voices of those who fought and witnessed the campaign, from nervous US militiamen to Ross, Cockburn and Dolley Madison, the president's resourceful wife. Written with verve and insight, this is a fitting reminder of a remarkable interlude in a war that deserves to be better known.”—BBC History Magazine

“The result is superb. When Britain Burned the White House is an exemplary work of history - lucid, witty and humane, with terrific pace, and so even-handed that it will surely be received as well in America as here”—The Spectator (UK)


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About the Author

Peter Snow

PETER SNOW is a highly respected journalist, author, and broadcaster. He was ITN’s Diplomatic and Defence Correspondent form 1966 to 1979 and presented Newsnight from 1980 to 1997. An indispensable part of election nights, he has also covered military matters on and off the world’s battlefields for forty years. Peter is married and has six children.

Peter Snow

Peter Snow

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Available Formats and Book Details

When Britain Burned the White House
The 1814 Invasion of Washington
Peter Snow

Hardcover

Hardcover
St. Martin's Press
Thomas Dunne Books
8/19/2014
Hardcover
ISBN: 9781250048288
ISBN10: 1250048281
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 320 pages, Plus two 8-page black-and-white photograph inserts
$25.99
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Thomas Dunne Books

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