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The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War Paperback – 18 May 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 293 pages
  • Publisher: The Penguin Press (18 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143038044
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143038047
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 1.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 496,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Examines how the French and Indian War of the mid-eighteenth century had a definitive impact on history, tracing how it served to overturn the balance of power on two continents and laid the groundwork for the American Revolution. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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By the middle of the eighteenth century, European colonists had lived in North America for nearly a century and a half. Read the first page
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 3 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback
It is always a conundrum whether to pick between a scholarly version and an abridged one: the former can get you lost in academic-debates detail, the latter can feel dumbed down. I bought this not knowing it was an abridgement. The book moves briskly, spends a lot of time in descriptions of battles, and flits over the many very very interesting personalities involved. I think the reader gets a bit beyond the gist, so the book is a success.

The war essentially disturbed a balance that held British America to the Eastern Seaboard. The French had allied with the Indians - giving them indispensable goods including munitions and alcohol - to hold the British from usurping their lands. In this arrangement, the Indians were allowed political autonomy, which particularly the Iroquois nation used to develop a sophisticated diplomacy to preserve their culture and freedom. In the meantime, Europe was a delicate system of military alliances. Amidst these brewing tensions, the war finally was sparked when George Washington's Indian allies (in his presence) murdered a French representative with diplomatic immunity, furnishing a excuse to start a war - it was the start of the Seven Years War!

Once the British won, which the did by breaking the French-Indian alliance (certain French generals failed to undrestand how to use the Indians as allies, which included allowing them to massacre enemies) and by overwhelming military force, the political balance within British America had been broken. While the settlers felts empowered to pursue their political power and economic agendas (Washington had land in the Ohio Valley he wanted to develop), the British justifiably felt that they should pay for a very very costly war, particularly in Europe.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 62 reviews
63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
A First Rate Introduction 4 Mar. 2006
By Theo Logos - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Superb balance of narrative, scholarship and originality 3 Feb. 2007
By Peter G. Keen - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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.
65 of 73 people found the following review helpful
An Abridged Version Of The French And Indian Wars 7 Jan. 2006
By C. Hutton - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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."
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Prelude to the American Revolution 13 April 2006
By E. E Pofahl - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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 " 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 members of Parliament in taxing authority; that they were indeed Britons equal to their English relatives. The British viewed them as no more than subservient colonial subjects. The four concluding chapters briefly narrate the events that led to the American Revolution. George Washington's philosophy, his austere faith and belief in his destiny is briefly noted. The book ends with an epilogue that discusses Washington's philosophy and commitment to his country.

This is great history; well written.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Focus Is On Battlefield Events Rather Than The Relevance Of The War To Shaping America 22 Nov. 2006
By Chris Luallen - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I am normally much more interested in cultural history rather than military history. But this book caught my attention with it's title, "The War That Made America," as I wanted to better understand this war's significance in forming the future of our nation. Unfortunately, this explanation is primarily provided in the book's final chapter and epilogue, where it is explained how Britain's truimph over the French left the Native Americans in a dire position. For example, the various tribes had previously been able to play off the British and French against each other and maintain a favorable position for themselves in both trade and the formation of alliances. However, the Indians were now left to largely fend for themselves against both the imperial designs of the powerful British Empire and the American colonists who began to push west of the Appalachian Mountains. The book also explains how the war helped to build the military career of George Washington while adding to the tensions between the British crown, who wished to raise taxes and assert greater control, and the American colonists, who wished to maintain their privileges and freedoms. Of course, this eventually led to the American Revolution, where the former British military officer, George Washington, led the colonists in victory over the redcoats. In this sense, Anderson does a capable job of making the case that the French And Indian War played a substantial role in the shaping of America's future.

Unfortunately, Anderson only provides this context at the end of the book. The vast majority of chapters instead focus on the numerous battles that took place between the British and the French, who were the winning and losing officers and what military tactics were used to achieve victory. Of course, this is all relevant to a book about the French And Indian War and Anderson is an excellent scholar with a clear understanding of his subject. So I have no doubt that readers interested in military history will appreciate this book. But, as I said earlier, I was hoping for a book with more focus on explaining the importance of the war and less attention to the details of the battlefield. So, for me, it was mostly a bore.
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