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The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War

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This description may be from another edition of this product. The globe's first true world war comes vividly to life in this "rich, cautionary tale" ( The New York Times Book Review ) The French and Indian War -the North American phase of a far larger...

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5 ratings

Superb balance of narrative, scholarship and originality

The French and Indian Wars are generally treated as a subtheme in the wider context of the war between Britain and France that in a single year -- 1759 -- gave Britain its Empre -- Wolfe's capture of Quebec, Clive's victories in India which provided the treasures that funded the Industrial Revolution, the capture of the sugar islands that createdSilicon Valley wealth for the new political class, and Hawke's and Boscawen's naval victories that began the ownership of the oceans that soon was extended by Cochrane and Nelson as the consequent protagonists of an entirely new style of sea battle. The American colonial part of this triumph is generally seen as at most a sideshow, although one of the well-known and great ironies of history is that the entire war was launched -- after a long build up -- by the blunder of a young British officer, George Washington that gave the French the excuse they needed to start what was indeed the first global war. This excellent, well-written book with, from my own knowledge, its impeccably researched and balanced scholarship, shifts the focus from Europe to the complex four-sided relationships and intense politics of the Iroquois Six Nations, very sophisticated and key to the British success, the British administrators/military commanders, the Colonial players and their French equivalents. It helps explain better than any other book I have read how it was this period and this war that is at the roots of the American Revolution and perhaps made it inevitable. It is strong in bringing to life key personalities -- not Washington, who is a constant background presence -- but Amherst, Johnson, Montcalm and Vaudreil and their competition and conflicts, and also the extent to which alliances with the Indians who controlled the territories of the Ohio "West" and the betrayals on both sides were fundamental to the war. It also and undramatically shows how the anti-Indian racism emerged and how the Indians were hardly the "Noble Savages" of romantic myth. It's a great story if you are not familiar with the era and the War. If you are, I think it offers a thought-provoking new slant on an old subject. It is compact and subtle. It does not push any pet topic or thesis. I recommend this unreservedly.

Prelude to the American Revolution

The author, Fred Anderson, having written a scholarly account of the French and Indian War in his book Crucible of War, in this book writes a shorter account of that war that was the North American component of Europe's Seven Years War. In the Prologue, the text states "....by sheer force of numbers, if nothing else, they would overwhelm the French who claimed that territory....Anglo-American mastery in North America was effectively determined before the first shot was fired." However, defeating the French in North America was no "push-over." The English were interested in settling land west of the Allegheny Mountains while the French had no plans for the area "apart from keeping it out of British hands." The text gives an excellent discussion of Indian diplomacy that the British did not understand. Basically the Indians needed trade to procure arms and fought a guerilla war while the British fought a conventional European war. The French governor-general allied with several Ohio area Indian tribes and exploited the Indian warfare culture that included scalping, hostages and exploitation. It wasn't until French commander Montcalm challenged the use of Indian guerilla tactics that conventional European warfare was adopted by the French North American forces. Following the English takeover of the Dutch colony of New York, the Iroquois Indian Nation forged an alliance with the English in 1670. This supplied the Iroquois with arms while providing the English with a valuable partner. The text narrates the history of the fighting in North America until the end of the Seven Years War in 1763. The British North American commander-in-chief, Lord Loudoun, acted as a regal viceroy taking property when desired, forcing colonists to raise militias and finance military operations. While Loudoun was a genius at organization and planning, during this period the British suffered a number of losses. General Abercromby replaced Loudoun and under the more enlightened policies of British Secretary of State William Pitt the colonists responded with a surge of support and patriotic sentiment. "Abercromby, the least competent officer ever to serve as British commander in chief...." was replaced by Jeffery Amherst. The text's account of North American warfare under General Amherst is well written, and includes an account of the brilliant campaign under General Wolfe to capture Quebec. The Royal Navy controlled the seas, so that French could not reinforce their North American subjects. With the capture of Montreal, the French battalions in North America laid down their arms. The Treaty of Paris ratified in 1763 transferred vast territories French and Spanish to British control. The author notes that after the French and Indian War "Believing that their sacrifices of blood and treasure entitle them to share in the fruits of victory, the colonists of British North America assumed that they had a stake in the empire's future." The colonists considered themselves equal

A First Rate Introduction

The French and Indian War is the American name for their part in a conflict that stretched around the globe and was known as the Seven Years War. In `The War That Made America', Anderson sticks to the history of the war as it played out in North America, with only a nod to the war as fought in the West Indies, Europe, Asia, and the Philippines. He bookends his story in preface and epilogue by showing what affect the war had on the life, training, and outlook of George Washington, the most famous American to play a key part in it, which proves an effective shorthand device for showing the importance of the war to American history. Anderson brings to this short history of the war a perspective which has not always been acknowledged - that it was not a conflict between two imperial powers - Britain and France, but between three - Britain, France, and the Iroquois Confederation. Not only does he restore the essential details of the pivotal role that the Five Nations of the Iroquois played in the war, but he shows how the causes of the war lay as much in the struggle of the western tribes of Delaware, Shawnee, and Mingo attempting to gain their independence from the Iroquois as it did in the French and English competition over the lands of the Ohio River Valley. He deftly handles these complex details; sorting them out and making them accessible to the general reader. Anderson is that rare scholar who possesses a novelist's way with words, and his short history of this war is as entertaining and easy to read as it is informative. He moves the story along briskly, never getting too bogged down in details, but communicating all the important facts necessary for a basic understanding of the war. His book is a painless introduction for anyone who is attempting to gain a basic understanding of this fascinating and important history. I recommend it as a perfect place to begin study of this most crucial of colonial conflicts. Theo Logos

Call Me Exhibit #1

I am proof that author and historian Fred Anderson is correct in the first significant point he makes in The War That Made America: he writes that most Americans -- even well read Americans with solid educations -- know little about the French and Indian War. Guilty as charged -- at least until recently. Mr. Anderson makes a compelling case for the importance of the war, which he says has had an astonishingly large impact on American history. Most of the world calls the conflict the Seven Years' War, but in the U.S. and Canada it is known as the French and Indian War. It started in 1754 after a miscalculation between a young George Washington and his band of undisciplined Virginia volunteers and their Indian guides. The group stumbled onto a detachment from the French forces that were at that time wrestling control of North America away from the British. Washington lost control of his unruly troops, who routed the French and abused captured prisoners: decapitating one man and scalping several wounded Frenchmen. A series of retaliatory battles followed and the war began. In his History of English Speaking People, Winston Churchill called the Seven Years' War the "first world war,' and it's easy to see why. Battles were fought not only throughout North America but also in the Caribbean, Brittany in northern France, and in the English Channel. Sensing a weak point in London's resolve, a major revolt broke out in the Philippines and a smaller one in South Africa, then both parts of Britain's massive empire. The French and their Indian allies controlled the first five years of the war, but soon the might from the British forces in the colonies began to be felt. By 1759, the tide was turned and by 1761 the brief French dominance of North America -- which at one point stretched from Quebec to New Orleans -- was finished for good. Mr. Anderson goes into plenty of detail about how this happened, but in my mind that's much less interesting than the dominoes that fell in the decades after the war's conclusion. Here's a sample: * France's Indian allies, deprived of further support from Paris, became disgruntled and revolted. In 1763 they launched Pontiac's Revolution, an uprising that represents the only coordinated battle plan by more than a handful Indian tribes in North American history. The Ottawa Indians took over Detroit for part of the three-year war, which Mr. Anderson said encouraged Americans to openly hate Indians "without reserve or distinction," eventually leading to the destruction of subjugation of every tribe on the continent. Never again would tribes of the most native of Americans ever be protagonists in the continent's history. * Because of their part in winning the war for Britain, American colonists began to see themselves as what Mr. Anderson calls "partners in empire" -- but London did not see it that way. Less a decade after the end of the war, the British parliament passed a tax on the colonies to help pay for its growing w

An Abridged Version Of The French And Indian Wars

Mr. Anderson wrote the classic history of the French and Indian Wars in his "Crucible of War" (1999). That rendering of the fourth and final war between France and England for the possesion of the New World was covered in nearly 750 pages of narrative plus 150 pages of index and notes. Now he has abridged his earlier account with "The War that Made America" which is the companion volume to the PBS documentary of the same name that airs later this month. This rendition of The Seven Years' War, as the conflict was also named, should be considered as "The French and Indian War Lite." With less than 300 pages, this abridgement has a more specific focus upon the exploits of our American ancestors and less of a focus on the previous three wars, the European political scheming and military details of various battles. The reader desiring a fuller account can always turn to the original "Crucible of War." Any reader desiring further information of that era can read the historical novels of Kenneth Roberts,especially "Northwest Passage" (1936) and "Arundel" (1930) or view the 1992 film version of "The Last of the Mohicans."
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