Customer Reviews: The French and Indian War: Deciding the Fate of North America
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VINE VOICEon November 7, 2006
There have been a number of brilliant books written on the subject of what should have been known in history as the true First World War, or as we know it, the French & Indian War or Seven Years War. THE FRENCH & INDIAN WAR: DECIDING THE FATE OF NORTH AMERICA, by Walter Borneman may never reach the apex of that list, but it is indeed a fine work worthy of being in a class with Francis Parkman or Fred Anderson. Borneman brings a fresh writing style to the old subject that is a true joy to read.

The book does have a few slight knocks against it. I thought the introduction leading up to the war should have been more deeply explored than the brief narrative of the first two chapters. The circumstances pushing towards the world war could have easily taken several hundred pages by itself, but Borneman, in this work, seeks a rather brief 300 page account of the war and, given that limitation, does an incredible job.

The Third Chapter introduces the reader to Ben Franklin and his Albany Plan in as good a dissertation as I have read on the subject. The book contains sparse maps, but what is there is worthy of high praise as well as giving good explanation of troop movements, detail, dates and conditions on conflicts such as Braddock's defeat and Ticonderoga. Mid way through the book you will find eight pages of magnificent pencil drawings, several I don't recall ever seeing before.

Borneman concludes his work with twenty five pages of notes and a brief bibliography. Brevity is, at once, a slight for this book, but it also accomplishes what I believe to have been Borneman's intention; to present a comprehensive study of the French and Indian War in a compact reader. To that end, Borneman succeeds in magnificent fashion. Overall, I was very pleased with this book.

Monty Rainey
Junto Society
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on March 3, 2007
The French and Indian War names the two losers in this war. From this war the victorious kingdom of Great Britain became the British Empire. We usually think of Braddock's march towards Fort Duquesne and Wolfe attacking Montcalm at Quebec during this war. However, there is also John Bradstreet's attack on Fort Frontenac on the shores of Lake Ontario, the battles in the Lake George and Lake Champlain area of New York state, the battles for Fort Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada, along with numerous other conflicts that made up what was known as the Seven Years War in Europe which really lasted nine years. One definite strength of this book is the many maps which were placed in the appropriate chapters to illustrate exactly where the events took place. The lack of such maps in other books I've read on various subjects has been frustrating. The real losers in this war, of course, were the Native Americans. Regardless of which side won the war they would lose their land. England's victory in this war lit the spark for the American Revolution to follow, and it was the defeated France that assisted America to defeat England in America's revolution. Former Harvard historian Samuel Eliot Morison called the French and Indian War the first World War. It was, indeed, global in nature. The fate of William Pitt, Jeffery Amherst, Robert Rogers, Chief Pontiac, and other key participants is also covered. The book is 308 pages long, and there are a lot of names to keep track of. My knowledge of this war and its importance to future events in America were definitely increased with this reading. Stick with it to the end. It is worth it.
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on January 8, 2007
If you google Walter R. Borneman, you will find not just a writer of history books, but a lawyer managing a substantial trust benefiting medical research, and also a mountaineer who has climbed all of Colorado's fourteeners and co-authored books on the subject. I cannot help but think that this background contributes to both the efficiency and the meticulous attention to detail and accuracy found in his recent books ("1812" and "French and Indian War"). This is not to say that his writing is not pleasing; it flows rationally and provides eminently pleasurable reading.

As work limits my pleasure reading, I am quite selective in choosing my material. In less than 400 pages Borneman has provided a complete, yet readable account of the global conflict referred to as the "French and Indian" war. I find most history books deficient in illustrations and maps, and I would like to have seen a few more here, but I managed by book marking the maps as to return to them easily as I read.

If you need a long tome to fill idle hours, they are out there. However, if you need a pleasurable, informative narrative history of the French and Indian war that is complete but can be finished in a reasonable interval, you should read this book.

Borneman has bracketed the American Revolution with his last two books. It would be kind of him to fill this gap someday.
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on July 29, 2007
I would highly recommend this book for those like myself who are just barely acquainted with the history of the French and Indian War, which was formally recognized as lasting from 1756 to 1763. Battles and skirmishes had begun before this time, e.g. General Braddock's march and defeat at the hands of the French and Indian allies in 1755 near the Monongahela River, with a young George Washington also playing a part in this battle. Borneman is an excellent writer whose clear style will make this both an easy and informative read.

This is a fairly compact book that will not take long to read. In essence, Borneman shows how this war could be classified as the first truly World War. Both the French and British had claims over the North American continent (roughly with the British occupying the Atlantic coast and the areas just inland and the French occupying areas along the St. Lawrence River, the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River), and it was this close proximity between two ambitious nations that could perhaps only culminate in war. But in addition to these areas and the West Indies (also extremely important for both sides), the author takes us to Europe to show us the war occurring on the European mainland, which the government of France seemed more concerned with than with their possessions in North America.

We become acquainted with many of the political and military leaders from both the British and French sides, but also some of the leading American colonists, and the Indian leaders and tribes. We learn of the legends that developed around Roger's Rangers and General Wolfe on the British side, the leaders who would emerge in the American War for Independence some twenty years later, and the issues stirring behind the war on the European mainland. It is also worth mentioning that this war perhaps best defined the emergence of the British Empire. For a relatively short book, we learn of much more than what was occurring in the wilderness areas of Canada and the present day United States.

But this account still largely covers the battles that took place in North America, such as those along the rivers and lakes that now form part of the upper Mid-Atlantic States and western New England States, as well as the Great Lakes States and those portion of Canada that border on the St. Lawrence River, notably Quebec and Montreal. The early stages of the war saw more French success in the field, but this changed and eventually ended in Britain's victory. As Borneman also discusses towards the end, the seeds for future revolution were laid by the British in the developing thirteen colonies that hugged the Atlantic Coast. Examples of this include the numerous pieces of taxation legislation imposed by the British Parliament and the quartering of British troops in the American colonies.

As I mentioned earlier, I think this is a most appropriate book for the beginning student trying to become acquainted with this particular conflict. It will, I think anyway, successfully introduce you to the issues surrounding this war, who the players were, and how this war was significant in several ways. Overall, this is a well integrated book that I think rightfully tries to put this conflict into a more global perspective. A good read.
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on April 30, 2007
To be sure, this is not a scholarly work. It was not written by a professional historian. It is a pleasurable read for those who would like to gain greater understanding of this war's overall importance in the development of the United States.

There are plenty of dry, technical tomes, that for the most part are barely readable, but thoroughly balanced and accurate. Unread books won't educate anyone.

While it is "uneven" in it's treatment of events, the casual reader will gain a good understanding of how this war affected the future of the New World.
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This is a very well-written book, aimed at a general reader, as opposed to the historian. The book relies on previously published sources, so it covers no new ground, but it does cover the material in a very interesting, entertaining and highly readable manner. The book details not only the North American Aspects of the Seven Years War (the French and Indian War as it is known in North America), but also events in the Caribbean, plus a bit about the Fighting in India and Europe, but this latter material is only provided in the most sketchy manner.

I learned a lot about the war; why it was fought, how it was fought and its aftermath, but this is not an extremely detailed treatment. My main reservation is that I found the book deficient in some areas and, where I was familiar with the history, a bit misleading in other areas. For instance, many historians point to George Washington's fighting at Fort Defiance as marking the start of the war, yet this engagement is only mentioned and not discussed in any detail. Furthermore, the battle of Bunker (Breeds) hill is described as a British defeat; it was an American Moral Victory, a British Pyrrhic Victory, but definitely not a British Defeat. These, and other omissions and inaccuracies made me somewhat leery about the accuracy of the treatment, enough to down rate it to four-stars.

The book contains maps, which I always appreciate, but I would have liked to have had more, especially those that showed the relationship of the area being discussed to surrounding areas (which are mentioned in the text, but not shown) and still other maps that more clearly showed the fortifications and fighting in greater detail. The book also contains some black and white illustrations, but these are printed on the same rough paper as the text and are not clearly reproduced. In fact, some of the large paintings are reproduced so small that very little can be clearly seen, making their inclusion a largely waste of paper. On balance, the inclusion of maps and illustrations was a plus, but the way in which this was done, in my opinion, largely negated any benefit that they might have added to the book and did not alter my rating of the book.

My reservations not withstanding, I recommend this book as a basic treatment of the French and Indian war. A general reader will learn a lot. The writing is clear, not too academic (although there are footnotes and an index), and well-suited to a modern reader. The book also serves as a good introduction to the events that set the stage for the American War for Independence.
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on March 7, 2014
A very good academic read with well researched adventures of larger-than-life heroes and villains. The two areas that left me hungry for more(and on occasion, less) were the combat scenes, and the constant slips into different time periods. As Mr. Borneman has us readers engaged in a scenario, we are whisked from the specific event under review, and taken to another point in time where one or more of the participants from the original conversation are in an ironic, complementary, or perhaps conflicting, activity. Then, after an admittedly connected vignette, we return to the original timeline. I know that this is a relatively common technique, one that serves to introduce the reader to additional--and hopefully interesting and useful information--but there should be limited deployment of this technique as it can easily become tiresome, and cause the mind to muddle facts, dates, names, events, and location, and require rereading the elements that have become intertwined.
However, don't let my dislike of this minor flaw keep you from an otherwise exemplary book that is filled with fascinating (and often overlooked) details. W.R.B. has crafted an excellent trip through a fascinating period. His analysis of events, personalities, logistics, politics, and more are a true delight. His book is definitely worth reading, and while you .at find it difficult to agree with some of his opinions, you will have to admit that his debate points are very strong, ad well defended.
Enjoy this book as soon as possible.
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VINE VOICEon November 10, 2007
Walter Borneman's coverage of the French and Indian war tells the tale of one of the first global conflicts extremely well. Best of all, he sets the context that created the war and defines the context that the war created which lead to the American Revolution. He does a credible job describing the battles and personalities that defined the conflict. He gets at the heart of the economic as well as personal causes for the war. He writes clearly and enjoyably, making the book easy to read as well as informative. The maps in the book, specifically the ones outlining battles, are poor especially when one considers the overall quality of the rest of the work. That minor weakness aside, this is a great book, informative on the topic and well worth reading.
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on January 8, 2008
While there are more "scholarly" treatments on the French and Indian War on the market, Borneman's is probably the only work on the subject the average reader will ever need to read. Detailed yet readable, this book will be a welcome addition to the library of any lay historian interested in the nuts-and-bolts of this often overlooked war and its role in the shaping of an American nation.
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on February 27, 2016
This entire adventure was a learning process for the early colonists. The future United States was still deeply imbedded in the European style of warfare and living in general.. Every acre of land was a new adventure to the west of the Appalachians. We didn't have much history in terms of hit and run warfare and the Colonial leaders of this conflict were actually leaning a new way of fighting on the fly. The Native Americans were deeply imbedded with their white father, the King Of France. They depended upon France for their basic needs and acceptance of a new spirit. The Colonial powers were very loosely organized, its leaders were more interested in social position rather than winning battles and money and supply were in short supply. Battles were not fought on familiar battlegrounds. The unknown wilderness and many rivers and lakes were foreign to them. Behind every rock and tree could be found native Americans who knew how to defend their natural rights and use the terrain to their fullest advantage. The war was long and it was bloody. The end of the French and Indian war found England in a very weakened economic position and its world dominance was quickly fading. The end of this war marked the actual beginning of the American Revolution. And in 13 short years, America declared its independence and began its epic battle for nation building. During this time, the British were defeated and the Native Americans were devastated as a culture and their thousand of years of development were slowly coming to an end.

Our early Americans' thirst for land and the Native American fight to preserve their rights came to major conflict and as usual, the man with the biggest stick and deepest pockets prevailed. It was never a question of right or wrong but the age old strategy of divide and conquer. We sure did a good job of that. One of the major advantages of this war is that England found itself fighting many conflicts on many international fronts and their manpower, firepower, and money became very short in supply. And then our American colonists began their fight for independence and in a few short years we declared our independence from a world power. But our native Americans as well as the French would never reach a position of dominance or even be given the opportunity to live in harmony with this new nation. Land was king and the native Americans were simply overpowered pawns in the great game of greed.

A very sad story in the development of these United States but with out our victory in the French and Indian War as well as the defeat of England in the Revolutionary War, the America we know today might have never come to life. But our Native Americns and their culture became doomed by
warfare and death and they died by the thousands and slowly found themselves being assimilated into a new culture. But their early history and spirit will live on forever.
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