Latimer, Jon 1964–

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Latimer, Jon 1964–

PERSONAL:

Born 1964, in Prestatyn, Flintshire, Wales. Education: Graduated from University College of Wales, Swansea.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Wales. Agent—Andrew Lownie Literary Agency Ltd., 36 Great Smith St., London SW1P 3BU, England. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, educator, historian, and oceanographer. University of Wales, Swansea, faculty member, 2005—. Has worked as an oceanographer for Hunting Surveys, Borehamwood; Hydraulics Re-search, Oxfordshire; Sydney Water Board, Australia; and the Ministry of Defence (Navy), Bath. Also worked as a shop assistant, vintner's boy, street musician, deliveryman, storeman, barman, laborer, driver, deckhand, painter and decorator, mystery shopper, and encyclopedia salesman, and appeared in a television commercial for Toohey's Blue beer. Military service: Served in the British Territorial Army for sixteen years, including serving in the 108 Welsh Field Squadron; Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia); 3rd Volunteer Battalion; Royal Welch Fusiliers; 1st Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers in Ballykinler, Northern Ireland; 1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers of the Australian Army Reserve; Royal Regiment of Wales; and the 4th Armoured Brigade.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Distinguished Book Award, Society of Military History, for 1812: War with America.

WRITINGS:

NONFICTION

Operation Compass 1940: Wavell's Whirlwind Offensive, Osprey (Oxford, England), 2000, Praeger (Westport, CT), 2004.

Tobruk 1941: Rommel's Opening Move, Osprey (Oxford, England), 2001, Praeger (Westport, CT), 2004.

Deception in War, Overlook Press (Woodstock, NY), 2001.

Alamein, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2002.

Burma: The Forgotten War, John Murray (London, England), 2004.

1812: War with America, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2007.

Contributor to magazines and newspapers, including British Army Review, Military History, America's Civil War, History Today, World War II, Vietnam, Osprey Military Journal, Times Literary Supplement, and Daily Telegraph.

SIDELIGHTS:

Jon Latimer held a variety of jobs before turning to writing in the 1990s. He has produced numerous military histories, several of them covering the events of World War II. These include Alamein and Burma: The Forgotten War. Critics have noted Latimer's talent for combining overall strategy with the ground-level experiences of battle participants. His 1812: War with America is "the first military history of the War of 1812 from the British perspective since the early 19th century," Latimer pointed out on his Web site. "My primary aim," the author remarked, "is to bring an obscure episode in British history to the attention of British readers, and secondarily, to present a British perspective to readers in North America."

Drawing on primary and secondary sources, Latimer presents a comprehensive view of the war as it played out on land—in the North American Great Lakes region, the Washington, DC, area, and the southern United States—and sea. As some reviewers pointed out, his perspective is definitely British. The war has sometimes been portrayed in the United States as a "second war of independence" for the young nation and as a response to British acts of aggression, such as the impressment of American sailors into the crews of British warships. In Latimer's opinion, by contrast, the United States was the aggressor and fought to seize British-held Canada. Also, while the United States has usually been considered the victor in the War of 1812, he concludes that the British held the military advantage and only negotiated an end to hostilities in order to focus on the war against Napoléon.

Some critics praised Latimer's research and writing, whether or not they agreed with all of his conclusions. There is "much truth" in his comments about U.S. designs on Canada, Scott Hughes Myerly observed in History: Review of New Books, but Myerly added that Latimer "offers a one-sided advocacy of the British government's interests." Nevertheless, Myerly said the author "rightly deserves praise for his extensive research and detailed narrative." Library Journal reviewer Douglas King, however, found 1812 a "welcome British perspective" on the conflict and thought it "convincingly debunks" some long-held American beliefs. A Kirkus Reviews contributor characterized the war as "a hugely convoluted affair" that "neither side really won," and summed up Latimer's work as "an exhaustive reassessment" marked by "painstaking detail." In King's view, the level of detail was potentially overwhelming for lay readers, but he remarked that the book held "valuable insight" for scholars. Myerly likewise deemed 1812 useful to serious students of the war, but he also recommended it to general audiences as "a readable, well-written, in-depth account."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Canadian Journal of History, December, 2004, William T. Walker, review of Alamein, p. 609.

Contemporary Review, September, 2005, review of Burma: The Forgotten War, p. 127.

History: Review of New Books, September 22, 2007, Scott Hughes Myerly, review of 1812: War with America, p. 20.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2001, review of Deception in War, p. 1402; July 15, 2007, review of 1812.

Library Journal, September 1, 2007, Douglas King, review of 1812, p. 150.

Reference & Research Book News, May 1, 2004, review of Tobruk 1941: Rommel's Opening Move, p. 29.

ONLINE

Andrew Lownie Literary Agency Web site,http://www.andrewlownie.co.uk/ (June 19, 2008), brief biography.

Jon Latimer Home Page,http://www.jonlatimer.com (June 19, 2008).

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