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1759: The Year Britain Became Master of the World [Paperback]

Frank McLynn
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 July 2005

Although 1759 is not a date as well known in British history as 1215, 1588, or 1688, there is a strong case to be made that it is the most significant year since 1066. In 1759 - the fourth year of the Seven Years War - the British defeated the French in arduous campaigns in India and the West Indies, in Germany and Canada, and also achieved absolute mastery of the seas.

As Thackeray famously remarked in Barry Lyndon, it would take a theologian, rather than an historian, to unravel the true causes of the Seven Years War in Europe, but the spine of the wider conflict was the struggle for global hegemony between Britain and France. Drawing on a mass of primary materials - from texts in the Vatican archives to oral histories of the North American Indians - Frank McLynn shows how the conflict between those two countries triggered the first 'world war', raging from Europe to Africa; the Caribbean to the Pacific; the plains of the Ganges to the Great Lakes of North America. It also brought about the War of Independence, the acquisition by Britain of the Falkland Islands and, ultimately, the French Revolution.

Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Pimlico; New Ed edition (7 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712694188
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712694186
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 485,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"'Compendious...McLynn deftly recreates the violent subordination of foreign nations, widespread land theft and the wholesale destruction of cultures that was justified by the dream of civilised dominion.'" (Rachel Holmes BBC History Magazine)

"'A stylish and fascinating account of the first global struggle.'" (Robert Colvile New Statesman)

"'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)

"'Fascinating.'" (History Today)

"'Magnificent.'" (Sunday Express)

Book Description

A remarkable new book on a crucial moment in British and world history.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An obscure year that comes to life 7 Sep 2005
This book does more than simply narrate a series of facts that leads the author to the conclusion inferred by the title. It provides a superb background to the political and social conditions and attitudes that prevailed at the time. It brings together an array of historic events and the characters behind them and binds them into a single global perspective, placing them in a context that makes the outcome far more understandable. The author manages to breathe life into a bewildering number of facts, all without losing the reader. I found this book to be an extremely enjoyable read and very illuminating at the same time. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent narrative 25 Jan 2008
By Twiglet
I have spent many an enjoyable evening reading this and really enjoyed it but I would say two things. One observation the second a critisism.
1) Observation. Is not written like a history book where the references to sources are clearly marked but, no great loss.
2) What I felt it did lack were maps, diagrams and pictures to make it easier to follow the 'plot'. Yes there are maps and pictures but they are few and no where near detailed enough to trace events. The pictures are interesting but ofmuch less relevance.
Still excellent book and I will look up more of his works!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A lively account of a key year in world history. 12 Sep 2008
This was the first time I had read a book whose theme were the events of a year rather the telling of a certain story. I have noticed how this idea has become a sub-genre of historical writing. What I discovered is that McLynn was a marvellous guide round events that I had vaguely heard of but were beautifully put into context.

Indeed I had no idea how (with hindsight) how the year 1759 was to in many ways shape world history for the next 200 years or so. It's also fascinating that while the Battle of Trafalgar is world famous the battle of Quiberon bay which in many ways was as important and certainly harder to execute is an obscure event to be found in history books only.

The only problem with this book, and indeed others in this genre, is of course events are rarely neatly wrapped up in a year. There is the build up and aftermath to consider and it is particularly odd to concentrate on one year in a war known as the Seven Years War. It would be a bit like doing "The hundred years war...the first 30 years". I was left wanting more.

So what is here is excellent, the way McLynn is able to write so fluidly about naval conflict off the coast of France and then leap into the icy wilderness of operations in the frozen wastes of Canada and beyond goes to show his considerable skill as a historian, it would just be nice to get his views on the whole conflict.

If you liked this there's more historical debate and fun at @HistoryGems on Facebook and Twitter
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! 3 Feb 2008
Excellent read, interesting and informative. Needs more maps, found it handy to have an atlas nearby. Recommended.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1759: The Year Britain Became Master of the World is a very good book which deals with a forgotten year in British history which should be more celebrated. It deals with not just the military but also the social and political history of the year. At times it is perhaps a little confusing in its narrative but overall it is a very good book and well worth reading especially if you are British and know little about this defining year in the country's history.
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