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Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766 Paperback – January 23, 2001

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Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766 + The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 912 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (January 23, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375706364
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375706363
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Histories of the American Revolution tend to start in 1763, the end of the Seven Year's 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.

From Publishers Weekly

From 1756 to 1763, the Ohio Valley was the site of a historic contest between the French and the English, both of whom wanted to add this fertile soil to their colonial holdings. In this elegant new account of the Seven Years' War, University of Colorado historian Anderson demonstrates that the conflict was more than just a peripheral squabble that anticipated the American Revolution. Not only did the war decisively alter relations among the French, the English and the Native American allies of the two powers, who for decades had played the English and French off one another to their own advantage, but just as critical, argues Anderson, the war also changed the character of British imperialism, with the mother country trying to reshape the terms of empire and the colonists' place in it. (It was the British victory of 1763, for example, that led the British to post a permanent, peacetime army in America and to support those troops with new taxes.) Indeed, Anderson shows that familiar events of the mid-1760s, like the Stamp Act and Tea Act crises, are better understood as postwar rather than prewar events: they did not "reflect a movement toward revolution so much as an effort to define the imperial relationship." This volume, then, will be of interest not just to Seven Years' War buffs, but also to those interested in the entire Revolutionary era. Anderson's magisterial study--like his earlier book, A People's Army--is essential reading on an often ignored war. 90 illus. and 9 maps.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Excellent book, well written and very informative.
Dwight L. Bliss
Fred Anderson has written a very thorough account of the Seven Years' War which is also known in North America as the French and Indian War.
Roger Berlind
Superbly written, Mr. Anderson is very detailed and thorough in his narrative.
Chad Hanenberger

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

246 of 252 people found the following review helpful By Thomas M. Sullivan on April 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an inveterate history buff who happens to live about 1000 yards from Fort William Henry in Lake George, New York (and, incidentally, dined last evening at The Montcalm Restaurant), I make it my business to read every book about the French and Indian War I can lay my hands on. But having read so many which have proved either repetitious, superficial, or both, I have grown increasingly wary of new and ever more "comprehensive" histories of the war. To this point, the very best to my mind remained Parkman's "Montcalm and Wolfe" which is as fresh and readable today as it was when published over 100 years ago. Then along comes Fred Anderson's "Crucible of War", and I guess I have to start changing my mind. The book excels in three respects. First, Anderson is a superb writer, as close as one will find to the Great Parkman. Second, it abounds with terrific maps and illustrations, many of which I have not seen before, from the Clements Collection at the University of Michigan. Third, and most importantly, Anderson does the best job of anyone I know in justifying the thesis that it was this war, and not the Revolution, which was the most significant conflict of the 18th century from "America's" standpoint because it lay the foundation for the inevtiable schism between the Colonies and the Mother Country. Time and again, Anderson demonstrates how almost every Colonial rejection of British hegemony during this period sowed the seeds which bloomed in April, 1775. An absolutely top-drawer read that herewith becomes a must for every serious student of American history and of this fascinating war.
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87 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Mark Wylie on May 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Fred Anderson's stated goal in writing "Crucible of War" was to produce "a book accessible to general readers that will also satisfy...historians' scholarly expectations." I am pleased to report that he attains that goal as completely as anyone could reasonably expect.
Anderson's subject is a relatively small slice of US history--the conflict known variously as the French and Indian War or the Seven Years War, along with the war's immediate aftermath. His narrative is highly informative. He describes how isolated skirmishes on what was then America's western frontier escalated into a true global war, involving every major European power. He convincingly explains how England eventually came to triumph over her rivals, and to inherit much of France's erstwhile colonial empire. Although his focus in on North America, he does not neglect events in Europe. He then shows how events like the Stamp Act Crisis and Pontiac's Rebellion were inextricably linked to the war and its outcome.
Anderson deserves credit for his skillful blend of diplomatic, military, economic and social history into a coherent whole--he should be a model for other scholars in this respect. Also noteworthy is his clear identification of the interest of the four main groups involved in the North American conflict--the French and their Canadian colonists, the English, the American colonists, and the Native Americans--and his untangling of the conflicts both within and between these groups.
While specialists may end up quibbling with some of the details of Anderson's interpretations, he seems to me to have amply demonstrated his claim that the French and Indian War was an extremely important influence on the revolutionary events of the following decades. "Crucible of War" is a genuine classic of historical writing.
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83 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Peter Savage on March 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is less of a book than an event. Probably the most interesting history book since Schama's "Citizens," and for the same reason: it tells you things you'd probably never otherwise have known, and provides context for them.
While the Seven Years War has always figured front and center in European minds, it's been overshadowed in the US. But, it was the first real 'world war'. It built the British Empire, and sowed the seeds for the downfall of the western part of it, a mere ten years later. Anderson knits the complex events together with great skill, and follows the stories of the many seedy, greedy and incompetent players (along with the patriots and professionals) as they try to first turn back the tide of the French, and then figure out a way to conquer Canada. The insights into the Indian aspects of the war are remarkable. There's a lot of "battles and generals" writing, but he does not neglect the stories of ordinary soldiers and civilians.
A lot of famous folk don't come across too well in Anderson's account. His penetrating comments on Washington and Wolfe won't make him a lot of friends, but, so be it.
You'll come away from this knowing far more about the true reasons for the Revolution, which was almost an inevitable sequel to this conflict. I'd recommend reading it in conjunction with Kevin Phillip's "The Cousins' War."
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Christopher J. Doyon on March 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
When I read Shelby Foote's Civil War trilogy, by about page 150 of the first volume, I had become a lifetime Civil War history buff. I now regard that as the most expensive book I ever purchased, because it sparked an interest that resulted in the purchase (and reading) of over 100 other Civil War books. Having just finished Fred Anderson's Crucible of War, I fear that process has begun anew. As Foote's masterpiece created a panoramic portrait of the 1860's, Anderson's work drew me into the 1760's in North America and the Courts of George II and III and painted a vivid and fascinating portrait of the lives of the great and the not-so-great men who fought what probably should be considered the first world war. My interest in the Civil War has always been predominately in battle and campaign studies or in the personalities of great leaders and common soldiers. So when I started Anderson's book, I presumed I would suffer the political stories and enjoy the military content. It is to Anderson's credit as a writer and a story teller that I increasingly found myself rushing through the details of the military encounters and savoring the tales of political combat that truly determined the outcome of this conflict. Anderson's thesis that the Revolutionary War and the events that lead up to it can only be truly appreciated in the context of the Seven Years War is well taken.
In what is, unfortunately, an exception in much history publishing, this book is very well appointed with both maps and illustrations. It is one of the few books to pass the test that (as far as I can recall) every location mentioned in the text is located on one of the excellent maps. As an added bonus, the many period maps and fortress plans are not only well reproduced, but helpful and enlightening as well.
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