It is a rare thing indeed when you find a history book that is eminently readable. This is excellent! Detailed without being too detailed.... And while it does have maps, I would have liked a few more. Small nitpick for an otherwise great read.
Doug B. reviewed 1812 : The War That Forged a Nation on
This is a well written short history (304 pages) of the War of 1812. Borneman covers both the world and national politics around the war including the motivations of sections within the US. He also provides some wonderful character sketches and helps the reader understand how these people factor into the history of the United States.
There are also good discussions of Army and Navel tactics and he provides a clear and understandable summation of how battles develop. There are some nice maps that help the reader understand the spatial realties of the battles.