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Fort McHenryby Scott Sheads, The Nautical and Aviation Publishing Company of America, Baltimore, Md., 1996,$26.95.

Fort McHenry is the third book on Baltimore’s famous “star fort” by one of today’s most gifted historians of the largelyforgotten War of 1812. Scott Sheads–a National Park Service ranger at the fort for many years and a member of thelegendary Fort McHenry Guard–has years of research in the fort’s primary archival resources behind him. From it he hascrafted an engaging and highly readable account that covers more than two centuries of the famed structure’s history–includingthe 1814 British bombardment that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which became thenational anthem of the United States in 1931. With 60 period portraits and battle scenes (19 in color), 10 appendixes, notesand a bibliography, this book is likely to remain the standard treatise for several years to come.

Blaine Taylor