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The Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766 [Hardcover]

Fred Anderson , William L Clements Library
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb 2000
In this engrossing narrative of the great military conflagration of the mid-eighteenth century, Fred Anderson transports us into the maelstrom of international rivalries. With the Seven Years' War, Great Britain decisively eliminated French power north of the Caribbean — and in the process destroyed an American diplomatic system in which Native Americans had long played a central, balancing role — permanently changing the political and cultural landscape of North America.

Anderson skillfully reveals the clash of inherited perceptions the war created when it gave thousands of American colonists their first experience of real Englishmen and introduced them to the British cultural and class system. We see colonists who assumed that they were partners in the empire encountering British officers who regarded them as subordinates and who treated them accordingly. This laid the groundwork in shared experience for a common view of the world, of the empire, and of the men who had once been their masters. Thus, Anderson shows, the war taught George Washington and other provincials profound emotional lessons, as well as giving them practical instruction in how to be soldiers.

Depicting the subsequent British efforts to reform the empire and American resistance — the riots of the Stamp Act crisis and the nearly simultaneous pan-Indian insurrection called Pontiac's Rebellion — as postwar developments rather than as an anticipation of the national independence that no one knew lay ahead (or even desired), Anderson re-creates the perspectives through which contemporaries saw events unfold while they tried to preserve imperial relationships.

Interweaving stories of kings and imperial officers with those of Indians, traders, and the diverse colonial peoples, Anderson brings alive a chapter of our history that was shaped as much by individual choices and actions as by social, economic, and political forces.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 862 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; 1st Edition edition (Feb 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375406425
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375406423
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.3 x 5.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,204,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Histories of the American Revolution tend to start in 1763, the end of the Seven Years' War, a worldwide struggle for empire that pitted France against England in North America, Europe, and Asia. Fred Anderson, who teaches history at the University of Colorado, takes the story back a decade and explains the significance of the conflict in American history. Demonstrating that independence was not inevitable or even at first desired by the colonists, he shows how removal of the threat from France was essential before Americans could develop their own concepts of democratic government and defy their imperial British protectors. Of great interest is the importance of Native Americans in the conflict. Both the French and English had Indian allies; France's defeat ended a diplomatic system in which Indian nations, especially the 300-year-old Iroquois League, held the balance between the colonial powers. In a fast-paced narrative, Anderson moves with confidence and ease from the forests of Ohio and battlefields along the St. Lawrence to London's House of Commons and the palaces of Europe. He makes complex economic, social, and diplomatic patterns accessible and easy to understand. Using a vast body of research, he takes the time to paint the players as living personalities, from George III and George Washington to a host of supporting characters. The book's usefulness and clarity are enhanced by a hundred landscapes, portraits, maps, and charts taken from contemporary sources. Crucible of War is political and military history at its best; it never flags and is a pleasure to read. --John Stevenson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'Magnificent.' John Keegan, Daily Telegraph; 'A masterpiece.' Hugh Brogan, The Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
WARS BETWEEN France and England (or, after the Act of Union in 1707, Great Britain) dominated European politics between 1689 and 1815. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I have to be honest, I was always interested in the Seven Year War and the North American conflict, so purchasing this book wasn't that greater ordeal. What I did find was a history book written like no other history book I have ever had to read (Not to sound so far fetched). It was like reading a good old boys adventure book, with it's villians and heroes, close calls and triumphants and not forgetting an extremly accurate and descriptive account of the history of that time. I found myself totally ingrossed in each page, awaiting each turn of events to unfold in front me. Fred Anderson does a superb job of bringing the pages alive with a free flowing and captivating account of such a important part of history. The only reason I didn't rate it a five out of five was due to the ending dragging it's heels slightly compared to the high calibre of the rest of the book. But don't let this deter you, even if you don't share the same interest in that peorid of history as a whole, it's well worth the read and the chance to be swept along by a fantastic adventure.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars British Glory Shared 9 Jun 2003
By VanGo
Format:Paperback
Highly readable and highly recommended account of the Seven Years' War in the crucible of North America, involving the brutal and exhausting confrontations between the British Redcoats, French troops de la marine and the American Indian.

However, 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 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 or the massive manpower contributed from the often reluctant colonies.

Whether intentional or not Fred Anderson puts the colonialist's support for Britain in a bad light. The colonial assemblies' willingness or lack of, to either provide provincial troops or support British troops in the first half of the war, a war that was being fought on their behalf against a confident and bellicose enemy puts the war effort into a hew that never really changes into a favourable one, despite the best efforts of the author to beef up their importance.

Indeed that their contributions had to be financially guaranteed by William Pitt before they would cough up any sort of significant contribution to their own defence staggers belief and casts a long shadow upon the story of Britain and her American colonies fighting a war against the French enemy together.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best History of the French and Indian War 9 Aug 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Anderson's book is certainly the best recent history of the French and Indian War. The book provides a narrative overview of the struggle across North America, and makes reference to the progress of the war in Europe. Anderson also discusses the impact of the war on the British Empire and the attempts at reform which led to the Stamp Act of 1765. Anderson builds on his many years of research to present a masterful narrative, accessible to both professional historians and the general reader. The emphasis is on military history, politics and diplomacy, and the book is perhaps slightly weak on social history and Native American history--though these are both discussed in the book. However, if you want a single, detailed, (832 pages) book on the Seven Years' War in North America, this is it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I like this period of British history and the book started off very well, the narrative part, at a cracking pace but then became bogged down in the difficult post war era. Finally, the text succumbed to the US jingoism that I was afraid of whenever any subject touches the birth of the US. Overall, a very entertainig read.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars British glory shared 25 Jan 2003
By VanGo
Format:Hardcover
Highly readable account of the Seven Years' War in the crucible of North America. Involving the brutal and exhausting confrontations between the British Redcoats, French troops de la marine and the American tribes.

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 an essentially American war. So this is my review of an American perspective from a British point of view. In its favour this makes for both a revealing and detailed account upon the pretty much indispensable role the Indians and American colonials had upon the successful British-led prosecution of the war. If perhaps not winning it then surely preventing it's defeat, the author puts emphasis on factors such as the Indian nations allying with the British or the massive manpower contributions from the often reluctant colonies.

Whether it is intentional or not Fred Anderson portrays the colonialist support for Britain as recalcitrant. The colonial assemblies' unwillingness to either provide provincial troops or support British troops in the first half of the war, a war that was being fought on their behalf against a confident and bellicose enemy puts the war effort into a hew that never really changes into a favourable one, despite what I believe are the best efforts of the author to 'beef' up their importance.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very well researched and clearly written
This is a well researched and intelligently written account of a period of history I knew little about. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Joystick
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic account
This is a classic account of the first Worldwide War and essential reading for anyone interested in the history of war and the growth of the European nation states and their... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mr. M. Parker
4.0 out of 5 stars Book of two halves
The book is really divided into two parts: the first covers the origins and outbreak and course of the war in America - and how it led to the global conflagration we know. Read more
Published on 9 May 2012 by Manzikert
4.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves
This book is much more than just a military history of the SYW in North America; it analyses in great detail the political, economic and social forces that led to the war, how -... Read more
Published on 15 Oct 2010 by Manzikert
4.0 out of 5 stars amateur historian
Excellent overview for an amateur historian such as myself. I am now beginning to delve into more specialised works, particularly in relation to the Iroquois and the myth of their... Read more
Published on 5 May 2010 by Ms. Anne Millane
5.0 out of 5 stars An epic account of the Seven Years' War in America
Though long overshadowed in the traditional historical narrative by the American Revolution, the Seven Years' War, as Fred Anderson argues, is the most important event in the... Read more
Published on 21 Aug 2008 by Mark Klobas
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent narrative history of Seven Years War in America
This is seriously good stuff. Epic in scale and sweep, but it manages to retain your interest throughout (even through the astonishingly turgid machinations of colonial... Read more
Published on 24 Dec 2000
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