History in Review
The War That Made America:
A Short History of the French and Indian War
By Fred Anderson.
(Penguin: 2006. Pg. 320.)
Reviewed by Sheldon Ztvordokov - May 29, 2006
The Seven Years War, better known in America as the French and Indian War, was a pivotal moment in American history. This war laid the foundations for the American Revolution and influenced the course of North American history for decades to follow. In January of 2006, to commemorate the 250th anniversary of this horrific war, PBS aired a four-part documentary entitled The War That Made America. Fred Anderson's book, The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War was written as a companion volume to this informative documentary and it concentrates primarily on those aspects of the war that most impacted the American colonies and which later led to the start of the American Revolution.
A professor of history at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Anderson is also the author of Crucible of War, a scholarly account on the French and Indian War. To this shorter, and more popular account of the war he brings a wealth of academic and literary credentials to the writing of this book. His writing is fluid, energetic, and gripping and his exploration of this period in early American history is unforgettable.
The French and Indian War ran from 1754 to 1763, although the war did not 'officially' start until 1756 when a formal Declaration of War was made between France and England. It was to be the last in a string of four wars fought between the French and British over control of various North American possessions. These conflicts also involved other issues as well, such as economic and trade issues between the two countries. Caught in the cross hairs were the indigenous populations and both French and English settlers. The war was to see horrific military battles, large population shifts, outbreaks of disease, wholesale slaughter, destruction of property, and the taking of captives. In short, it was a brutal conflict that had international implications, and one that drew many nations, in addition to France and England, into its cauldron of violence.
This tide of conflict, that culminated with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1763, began in 1689 with the start of King William's War (War of the League of Augsburg). This war, was, in turn, followed by Queen Anne's War (War of the Spanish Succession), which was itself followed by King George's War (War of the Austrian Succession). This long period of conflict terminated with the French and Indian War (Seven Years War). Although each was a disparate conflict, they all had both European and North American components, were unified by the nature of the conflicts, and by the special role that the fighting in North America had on the cause, prosecution, and conclusion of each conflict. In this book, Anderson ably captures the tumultuous and tempestuous nature of this last conflict, and clearly delineates its causes and consequences - with a particular focus on the implications that it had in regard to the rise of revolutionary fervor that swept through the colonies after the war. He also explores how the war was waged, the role played by the various Indian tribes, and its long term political, economic, and social costs for all involved. The French and Indian War was a pivotal and often overlooked conflict in American history. Anderson has written a compelling book that exposes this fascinating period of history. Written specifically for a general audience, Anderson makes this complex conflict easily comprehensible, and he does so in an entertaining and informative manner.
I highly recommend this book to readers of all ages interested in exploring this riveting conflict, as well as for anyone interested in Colonial American history, military history, or Native American history.
War Under Heaven - Pontiac, The Indian Nations, & The British Empire, by Gregory Evans Dowd.
An innovative analysis of Pontiac's War, including its causes, and consequences.
The White and the Gold: The French Regime in Canada, by Thomas B. Costain.
In this book, Costain explores the early history of French Regime in Canada up to the end of French and Indian War.
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