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1759: The Year Britain Became Master of the World Hardcover – 25 Mar 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 422 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd (25 Mar. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 022406245X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224062459
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 3.2 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 729,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A marvellous book: elegantly written, convincingly argued and packed with fascinating detail... it will do much to restore 1759 to its rightful place among the great years of British history" (Saul David Sunday Times)

"An erudite and delightful literary and philosophical romp" (Herald)

"McLynn's feisty and highly personal take on the pivot point of the Seven Years War adds fresh perspectives to the old story" (Stephen Brumwell Times Literary Supplement)

"A stylish and fascinating account of the first global struggle" (New Statesman)

"Splendid" (Guardian) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A remarkable new book on a crucial moment in British and world history. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Frank McLynn is one of those history writers who get around a fair bit. No specializing on one period, or country, as the subjects of his previous books from Napoleon, Villa and Zapata: A Biography of the Mexican Revolution and Stanley: Dark Genius of African Exploration make amply clear. In this book it is not a historical personage who is brought under McLynns scrutiny but a year: 1759; and a conflict: the war between Britain and France which raged at sea, in India, the Caribbean, Europe and North America.

Each theatre of war is put into some context, with the events leading up to 1759 being summarized. Events covered include those in the Caribbean including the invasions of Guadeloupe and Martinique; the fighting between the French and the British (along with the Native Americans and Colonists on both sides) in North America leading to General Wolfe's victory at Quebec; the battle of Minden in the western part of Germany; the fighting in India around Pondicherry and Madras; and the battles at sea including those at Lagos bay and Quiberon bay. There are a number of maps, which unfortunately are less than brilliant: key places in the narrative being omitted, and one map (for Quebec) had me scratching my head a little until I figured out that the scale is out by a factor of ten!
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Format: Hardcover
If you're looking for a history of the Seven Years War without the beginning or the end, this could be the book for you. Frank McLynn has done a year-as-turning-point book before (about 1066). This time, he has set out to prove that 1759 had a decisive effect on world history. The impact of the Seven Years War is not in dispute and it has long been recognised that 1759 was the central year, not merely in chronological terms. What is questionable is whether attempting to examine the year in isolation is sensible. Actually omitting any coverage of the earlier years of the war is hardly an option, so McLynn does describe background events in Britain, France and the theatres of conflict, albeit in a rather perfunctory way. The events after 1759 receive barely any attention at all, beyond a very swift and sweeping conclusion which suggests major developments which may have been contingent on the events of 1759. One such is the creation of the United States. That is a perfectly respectable viewpoint (to some extent, rather an obvious one, as French victory in North America would have meant big changes for the thirteen colonies), but McLynn never actually argues the case for this, or any of his other conclusions, thus rather undermining the whole point of the book. What is left, however, is more than a simple narrative of military events. McLynn ties in the campaigning with cultural developments of the year; thus, we are introduced to John Wesley, Edmund Burke, Voltaire, Samuel Johnson, Adam Smith and other luminaries of the Scottish Enlightenment (McLynn is Scottish and it does tend to show in his choice of emphasis). In general, the connections between the cultural titans of 1759 and the prosecution of the war are negligible, for obvious reasons.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
1759 was the year Arthur Guinness first started brewing stout and porter in Dublin - for many Irish people (like me) this is the most important event of 1759 (it does get a mention in McLynn's book). I was fascinated to see what were people talking about in 1759 in the pubs while they were sampling this new brew when I bought this book.
First, may I say that I did enjoy this book, but perhaps not as much as I expected.
Let's deal with the good points first. I haven't read McLynn's 1066 book so the author's effort at a defining book on a particular year was a new idea for me. While many parts of the book are quite brilliant in my view, McLynn doesn't quite pull off a "great" or "masterpiece" with this book. The descriptions of Quebec, Minden, and Quiberon Bay are brilliant. The detail and the description of the principle characters on both sides of each conflict are well described as is the relationship with Native American/Canadians in the Quebec siege. Wolfe and Montcalm are fascinating characters and you will get a well written account of the year 1759 for its part in what is often called the "French and Indian Wars". Minden and especially Quiberon Bay are described in fine detail for the amateur historian - McLynn has a knack with keeping the drama up in each event. The book is worth the purchase price for this alone.
However, there are some negative points that I wish to mention. First, it is inexcusable in this age of spell-checkers that elementary grammer and spelling mistakes still make it to the printed version of the book. If I can spot them, how tough can it be for the editor of the book to do so. There are only 5 or 6 - but annoying nonetheless.
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