1812 bicentennial sites, events all over US

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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."

But in Canada, the War of 1812 is seen as an attempted land grab by the U.S. The U.S. invaded Canada and at one point controlled Toronto, but the British, seeking control of the Great Lakes, won Detroit and other important ports....

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