MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History


Unshackling America: How the War of 1812 Truly Ended the American Revolution

By Willard Sterne Randall.

464 pages.

St. Martin’s Press, 2017.


Reviewed by K. M. Kostyal

Perhaps this book’s greatest weakness is its title. Far from another study of the War of 1812, Willard Randall’s fastpaced narrative sweeps across the history of America from its mid-1700s status as a colonial satellite through the Revolution against the mother country and the growing pains of Federalism and into the second and final war with Britain. Along the way, brief but compelling insights into the characters of major players help explain the turns that history took. While Randall avoids the pitfalls of hagiography, he has a few clear biases, notably an admiration for Shawnee leader Tecumseh, a dislike of the arrogance of most of the British he covers, and a distrust of Thomas Jefferson’s judgment in most things. But he does admit that the third president’s “erratic pacificism”— he initially vastly reduced the navy, yet greatly built up coastal defenses and established the

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