Bicentennial at hand, War of 1812 is still a mystery to most Americans, but Canadians have a more focused view

NEW YORK — Pity the War of 1812. Its bicentennial is at hand and events are planned for all over North America, from Canada and the Great Lakes to the Mid-Atlantic and the South. But good luck finding someone who can explain in 10 words or less what the war was about.

Some historians see the war as a last gasp by England to control its former colonies, and it’s sometimes called the Second War of Independence. At the time, Americans viewed the war “as an opportunity for us to throw off Britain once and for all,” said Troy Bickham, author of a new book out in June called “The Weight of Vengeance: The United States, the British Empire and the War of 1812.”

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