Book of two halves,
This review is from: Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754 - 1766 (Paperback)
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. This is by far the most exciting and readable part of the book and indeed is hard to put down.
It is much more than just a military history of the Seven Year's War in North America; it examines in great detail, the political, social, economic and diplomatic origins of the war, looking at it from the perspectives of all the major parties: the French, the British, the colonists and the various Indian tribes, and explains how the complex interweaving relationships between the groups that developed over the preceding century culminated in and played a crucial role in determining the course and final outcome of the conflict. The French were outnumbered 30-1 by the British colonies in 1754 and depended heavily on the Indians in a way the British didn't, which gave the French an advantage at the outset of the war, but worked against them in the long run. Ultimately, Britain and her colonies won the war as it won all its wars, by controlling the seas and bringing the full might of its empire to bear. Nonetheless, it took years of bitter fighting and catastrophic defeats to finally subdue the small French colonies. The war in America was all but over by 1759 with the capture of Quebec and Montreal and although we talk of the 'Seven Year's War' to include both the European and American theatres, by rights it should be called the Nine Years War, since the wars overlapped: in America it ran from 1754-1760, while the war in Europe didn't rally start until 1756 and ended in 1763. In a curious dog wagging the tail manner, the war in America actually accelerated, although did not cause the war in Europe, but fed on and into existing continental rivalries, that ultimately worked to Britain's advantage.
The second part looks with the aftermath of the war and how it changed the empire in America and altered forever the triangular relationship between the Indian nations, the British and the colonists and their growing disillusionment and estrangement with each other that culminated in the War of Independence and the Birth of America as we know it.