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In this vivid and compelling narrative the Seven Years' War–long seen as a mere backdrop to the American Revolution–takes on a whole new significance Relating the history of the war as it developed Anderson shows how the complex array of forces brought into conflict helped both to create Britain’s empire and to s. It had been a lopsided skirmish Around the rim of the hollow three of George Washington s troops were wounded and one lay dead at its bottom the French had suffered fourteen casualties One of the wounded a thirty five year old ensign named Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville identified himself as the detachment s commander Through a translator he tried to make it known that he had come in peace as an emissary with a message summoning the English to withdraw from the possessions ofLouis XV The letter he carried would make everything clearAs Washington withdrew to read the letter Tanaghrisson stepped up to where Jumonville lay Tu n es pas encore mort mon p re he said Thou art not yet dead my father He raised his hatchet and sank it into the ensign s head striking until he had shattered the cranium Then he reached into the skull pulled out a handful of viscous tissue and washed his hands in Jumonville s brain Fred Anderson Crucible of War Fred Anderson s Crucible of War is two things at once First it is the best book available on the Seven Years War which pitted the empires of Great Britain and France not to mention Spain Prussia Austria and in a battle royale that spanned two oceans and three continents and which killed hundreds of thousands of people Second it is one of the important books to read if you want to learn why in 1775 the American colonies lurched into open revolt At nearly 750 pages of text this is an ambitious doorstopper but Anderson earns every page The Seven Years War known in North America as the French and Indian War was truly a world war It began in Jumonville s Glen in present day Pennsylvania when a young George Washington goaded by a wily Seneca known as the Half King fired on a small party of Frenchmen in the woods bearing diplomatic dispatches From there it flared across the frontier into Canada and across the seas into Europe itself When it ended is an open uestion The symbolic denouement came in 1759 with the British capture of uebec The technical end came in 1763 with the Treaty of Paris But as Anderson demonstrates the war kept on echoing up to and beyond the moment when shots were fired on the Lexington common Anderson divides his epic into ten parts with each part further subdivided into multiple chapters In terms of a timeline we begin in 1740 and end with an epilogue at Mount Vernon in 1767 While Crucible of War is dense and an academic grade above your typical popular history Anderson does a lot of things to make this accessible For one there is the structure itself with a table of contents that serves as an outline to keep you from getting lost Moreover before each new part begins Anderson provides the dates covered and a summary of what is to come It s a small thing but I found it immensely useful especially when I needed to go back and check something Helping matters is Anderson s smooth literary style which combines a keen marshaling of facts with pertinent primary source uotations and an understated wit Crucible of War attempts to wrap its arms around a whole bunch of disciplines at once integrating them into a cohesive whole Thus we get coverage of military history economics politics and culture Roughly the first third of Crucible of War feels like a typical French and Indian War book Anderson skillfully narrates the various battles including the early French victories at Fort Oswego Fort William Henry for all you The Last of the Mohicans fans out there and Fort Carillon He also cuts away to show you the broader view as William Pitt used proxies such as Frederick the Great to hold the line in Europe while hitting France at the vulnerable fringes of her empire One of the major causes of England s victory Anderson states is French indifference to holding Canada which was a money losing proposition It seems true as Voltaire sneered that Canada simply represented a few acres of snow to King Louis XV Easily the biggest surprise here if you don t look at the table of contents is that Anderson gets to the dramatic Battle of uebec where James Wolfe met the Maruis de Montcalm on Abe Martin s field by page 344 In Anderson s presentation this battle which is typically shown as the symbolic or emotional end of the Seven Years War did not decide anything If there is a decisive battle Anderson posits it occurred off the coast of France where the Royal Navy defeated the French Navy at uiberon Bay Once the battles on the North American continent end and most books on the Seven Years War in America end as well Anderson really bears down He gets into the Cherokee uprising Pontiac s Rebellion English parliamentary politics and of course the taxation without representation There is a chapter on the Sugar Tax the Currency Act and the infamous Stamp Act I know this is a hard sell it being only slightly fun to learn about taxes than to pay them but Anderson makes this stuff really interesting He provides nuance to the seeds of the American Revolution explaining why Great Britain felt the need to levy taxes and why American colonists felt the need to riot and burn effigies in protest There are discussions on Britain s occupation costs Pitt s wartime subsidies and the proper value to be placed on provincial participation in the defeat of the French Anderson shows how the authoritarian coercive measures taken by the British clashed with a colonial culture that valued contractual relationships But he also allows that Great Britain had a point in expecting that America would bear its share of the burden for a war fought on their behalf To this end Anderson s evocation of George Grenville who dreamt up the Stamp Act is among the book s highlights The latter stages of Crucible of War reuire concentration to be sure Once past uiberon Bay Anderson tilts the focus away from military encounters in favor of political wrangling meaning that the Cherokee uprising and Pontiac s War are described in far less detail than Anderson gave to Braddock s defeat along the Monongahela Yet I found the minutiae of British imperial strategy to be utterly fascinating Despite ending well before the actual outbreak of revolution Anderson convinced me that the Seven Years War was the necessary precondition for the development of an American nation state You cannot understand the outbreak of World War II in 1939 without going back to the years 1914 1919 Similarly you cannot understand the American Revolution without first heading back to 1754 and studying the war that began in a heretofore unnamed glen Too often America s world altering revolution is abridged to a handful of buzzwords A tangled knotty event gets reduced to a simple binary pitting freedom loving tea partiers against haughty and bewigged tyrants Crucible of War shows it to be something far complex There is some villainy to be sure as well as arrogance and deliberate heavy handedness Mostly though as with all big historical moments this is a tale of human limitations with bad decisions made by smart men with strategic miscalculations and with an inability to see all ends at once It is the story of how an empire was both won and lost in the same war

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Crucible of War The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America 1754 1766

Ow the seeds of its eventual dissolutionBeginning with a skirmish in the Pennsylvania backcountry involving an inexperienced George Washington the Irouois chief Tanaghrisson and the ill fated French emissary Jumonville Anderson reveals a chain of events that would lead to world conflagration Weaving together the milita. The book excels in three respects First Anderson is a superb writer as close as one will find to the Great Parkman Second it abounds with terrific maps and illustrations many of which I have not seen before from the Clements Collection at the University of Michigan Third and most importantly Anderson does the best job of anyone I know in justifying the thesis that it was this war and not the Revolution which was the most significant conflict of the 18th century from America s standpoint because it lay the foundation for the inevtiable schism between the Colonies and the Mother Country Time and again Anderson demonstrates how almost every Colonial rejection of British hegemony during this period sowed the seeds which bloomed in April 1775 An absolutely top drawer read that herewith becomes a must for every serious student of American history and of this fascinating warAnderson s subject is a relatively small slice of US history The conflict known variously as the French and Indian War or the Seven Years War along with the war s immediate aftermath His narrative is highly informative He describes how isolated skirmishes on what was then America s western frontier escalated into a true global war involving every major European power He convincingly explains how England eventually came to triumph over her rivals and to inherit much of France s erstwhile colonial empire Although his focus in on North America he does not neglect events in Europe He then shows how events like the Stamp Act Crisis and Pontiac s Rebellion were inextricably linked to the war and its outcomeAnderson deserves credit for his skillful blend of diplomatic military economic and social history into a coherent whole he should be a model for other scholars in this respect Also noteworthy is his clear identification of the interest of the four main groups involved in the North American conflict the French and their Canadian colonists the English the American colonists and the Native Americans and his untangling of the conflicts both within and between these groupsWhile specialists may end up uibbling with some of the details of Anderson s interpretations he seems to me to have amply demonstrated his claim that the French and Indian War was an extremely important influence on the revolutionary events of the following decadesHowever this book is not your typical and I have to admit perennially enjoyable account of British Glory and Empire Building at the expense of France No Read the title and I can tell you this is most definitely an American academic writing an American history of what is argued by this author as an essentially American war In its favour this makes for both a revealing and detailed account upon the pretty much indispensable role the Indians and colonials had upon the successful British prosecution of the war If perhaps not winning the war for Britain then surely preventing it s defeat the author puts emphasis on factors such as the Indian nations siding with the British and the massive manpower contributed from the often reluctant coloniesOddly while discussing the battle on the Plains of Abraham Anderson claims that the British General Wolfe blundered into the battle without a plan as part of a suicidal death wish No evidence is presented to support this revisionist accusation nor does Anderson disclose how he knows what was going on in Wolfe s mind And after the 1760 fall of Montreal we inexplicably cease to see anything from the the perspective of the FrenchUnfortunately this is NOT a military history of the French Indian War In fairness the cover featuring Wolfe s heroic and idealized death on the Plains of Abraham and the uote from John Keegan claiming that Anderson s work compares favorably with Parkman s classic makes the issue confusing for the potential reader But Anderson clearly lays out the primary motivation and objective in writing this book in the introduction and it certainly isn t to write the definitive military history of the French Indian War let alone the larger Seven Years War of which North America was but one albeit central battlefieldRather Anderson s objective is to place the events of the Seven Years War in their proper historical perspective and above all to trace the enduring legacy of the wartime interaction between colonists and their ostensible countrymen the British regular army their officers and the Crown appointed officials serving there The author notes that there has long been a vigorous debate in academia over the central motivation of the participants in the American Revolution ie was it purely class based materialism as argued by those of the so called progressive school or idealism and commitment to republican principles at maintained by neo Whig scholars but striking and misleading agreement on the Stamp Act of 1763 as the fundamental point of departure Anderson argues that this has obscured the importance and centrality of the Seven Years War in shaping the thoughts and actions of the colonies and Whitehall alike and ultimately leading to a war of independence that neither side originally sought nor wanted The 1760s were thus not the pre revolutionary years that Americans think of them as but rather post war years

Fred Anderson ✓ 5 review

Ry economic and political motives of the participants with unforgettable portraits of Washington William Pitt Montcalm and many others Anderson brings a fresh perspective to one of America’s most important wars demonstrating how the forces unleashed there would irrevocably change the politics of empire in North Ameri. Sweeping chronicle of the French and Indian Seven Years War and its impact on both American and European society Anderson posits that the war often lumped together with the earlier dynastic struggles and interminable conflicts of the 18th Century was in fact the Western world s pivotal event of the 1700s From a minor skirmish between British surveyors among them George Washington and French soldiers over disputed territory in the Ohio Valley to protracted campaigns and bloody set piece battles in Canada Silesia and India it certainly changed the course of history Britain emerged as the world s dominant imperial power while at the same time weakening its newly expanded territories in the Americas Anderson proves eually adept rendering military set pieces and personalities from military leaders like the recklessly heroic James Wolfe and the arrogant genocidal Jeffrey Amherst to political figures like William Pitt Lord Bute Patrick Henry and John Adams as untangling the political disputes of Georgian England he also detonates some pervasive mythology about the war for instance depicting Wolfe s seizure of uebec as a lucky gamble rather than a military masterstroke He s also commendably inclusive in presenting both the American colonists who found the war increasing their internal unity while alienating them from the imperious British and the Native American nations caught in the conflict particularly the Irouois who found their power waning due to increasingly rigged deals unchecked speculation as co participants eual to England and France The book shows that the war s end in 1763 was nominal Britain found its military overstretched with Native groups from Pontiac in the Midwest and the Cherokee in the South rebelling against broken promises resulting in increased taxes and military presence that in turn antagonized American colonists on the road to Revolution It s a complex weighty topic that Anderson treats with sharp prose robust insight and admirable thoroughness An essential read for early American history


10 thoughts on “Crucible of War The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America 1754 1766

  1. says:

    “It had been a lopsided skirmish Around the rim of the hollow three of George Washington’s troops were wounded and one lay dead; at its b

  2. says:

    Famed professor and historian Fred Anderson uses his brilliance and expertise on early American history to recreate and scrutinize the Seven Years’ War in North America and in turn explain it’s everlasting ef

  3. says:

    As I explained in my last few posts a short while ago I decided to do a straight reading up on the history of my country Not by a ser

  4. says:

    It is not very often you come across a history book that can be considered the authoritative account of a period Crucible of War The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America 1754 1766 is one of the rare books

  5. says:

    The book excels in three respects First Anderson is a superb writer as close as one will find to the Great Parkman Second it abounds with terrific maps and illustrations many of which I have not seen before from the Clements Collection at the University of Michigan Third and most importantly Anderson does the best job of anyone I know in justifying the thesis that it was this war and not the Revolution which was the mos

  6. says:

    Excellent narrative history of the social economic and military aspects of the Seven Years War in both Europe and the burgeoning Amer

  7. says:

    This is probably one of the best history books I have ever read This is in no small measure due to the fact that Anderson is a terrific writer which made this a very hard book to put down despite its length His style made the book flow and I am amazed at his ability to easily seuence the multitude of events which took place in Europe and in North America There were no rough transitions and importantly Anderson was able to effectively tra

  8. says:

    Sweeping chronicle of the French and Indian Seven Years' War and its impact on both American and European society Anderson posits that the war often lumped together with the earlier dynastic struggles and interminable conflicts of the 18th Century was in fact the Western world's pivotal event of the 1700s From a minor skirmish betw

  9. says:

    Historian Fred Anderson’s thesis in ‘Crucible of War’ is that by winning the Seven Years’ War known in the colonies as the French and Indian War Great Britain acuired an empire in North America whose people it could not coerce and vast lands it could not control Thus the subtitle is ‘The Seven Years

  10. says:

    The French and Indian War gets enough attention that I wasn't sure I was in need of a book just on that part of the Seven Years WarBoy was I wrongNarratively the focus is around events over several hundreds of miles of indifferently settled tracts of North America and the personalities surrounding that Just as a history of the ma