New York, 1st.ed., 2004. Xiii + 349 pp., 16 plates & 10 maps. D.j., 23 x 16cm. FINE. The Naval War of 1812 to Great Britain was an unwanted sideshow ; a distraction from the long wars with France and her allies. It came about by Britain's frequent disregard for the American flag as it stopped US ships to search for deserted British seamen ' not always too particular which nation they belonged to - such was the desperate manning situation. For America it was a matter of honour and principle ' and free trade ' after their repeated protests to London fell on deaf ears. It was still a brave move for the young United States to declare war on Great Britain. In this American view of the conflict the author traces the course of the war at sea, in the Great Lakes, and on land. Ships like the USS CONSTITUTION showed that it was more than a match for British frigates. Nevertheless Washington was sent up in flames by Admiral Cockburn, and only a valiant defence at Fort McHenry saved Baltimore from a similar fate. The war has not received the attention it deserves. It had brilliant victories and humiliating defeats on both sides.