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Defying Empire: Trading with the Enemy in Colonial New York Hardcover – November 18, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Few history books make an original scholarly argument and rivet the reader’s attention from start to finish. Defying Empire does both: a remarkable, rewarding book.”—Fred Anderson, author of Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766
(Fred Anderson)

"Truxes forges a gripping tale about the conflict between New York's merchant community and British military leaders charged with winning Great Britain's first world war—the French and Indian War."—John McCusker, Trinity University
(John McCusker)

Defying Empire is simply riveting. It is narrative history of the highest order, and yet it makes a little-known but crucial point about the conflict between commercial greed and imperial loyalty during the Seven Years War. Truxes writes beautifully, evoking the sound and smell of provincial New York, and bringing his unappealing cast of characters to life. This is an important contribution to political history, but it might also be the script for a wonderful TV miniseries!”—Stanley N. Katz, author of Newcastle’s New York: Anglo-American Politics, 1732-1753
(Stanley N. Katz)

"Truxes is to be praised for his efforts to detail colonial smuggling. This is a subject we need to know much more about in order to come to terms with the transition to capitalism in colonial America, and in order to better understand the commercial ties that bound the Atlantic World."--Christopher P. Magra, International Journal of Maritime History
(Christopher P. Magra International Journal of Maritime History)

"An engaging narrative. . . . This is not the first scholarly work on smuggling in the mid-Atlantic, but Truxes has made a few choices that separate his study from others."—Cathy Matson, The Historian
(Cathy Matson The Historian)

About the Author

Thomas M. Truxes is a member of the Irish Studies faculty at New York University. His previous books include Irish-American Trade, 1660–1783.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (November 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300118406
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300118407
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,420,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book dispels any preconceived notions that history is dull, unless Disneyfied or, even worse, distorted and hyperbolized beyond recognition in order to peddle it to the unsuspecting masses. (please...let's do away with "based on a true story") Truxes has sifted through archives, documents, letters, and newspaper stories of colonial New York City to bring an untold story to life and this is one incredibly rich, exciting tale. The characters are not the upstanding colonial saints we've come to expect in any American history book. The plot is not one of patriotic fervor or self-sacrificing martyrs but greed, revenge, and illegal trade which reveals the sordid underbelly of New York City's populace, both rich and poor.

For history nuts, this is what we live for. For those who like tales of intrigue, this is a gripping story made all the better because it's not fiction. For those who like fiction, this will convert you to the pleasures of reading well-written, true stories. This will knock your socks off and leave you wanting more.

And I do hope Truxes will write more!
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Format: Hardcover
Exactly who benefited in the mid-18th Century from the commercial and trading life of the British Empire?
Professor Truxes does not take sides on this question. He does show in vivid and exciting detail that many people--from wealthy merchants and administrators to humble clerks, sailors, and ship captains--were prepared to take extraordinary risks to secure profits for themselves by illegally trading with the French.
DEFYING EMPIRE puts a fresh perspective on the Seven Years War. The bonds of empire were tested by the fragile trading relationships between Britain and her colonies, as much as by the convulsive and unpredictable stresses caused by the military campaigns against the French. Truxes shows that British and colonial laws concerning trade became open to interpretation and evasion within the administrative and commercial community in New York.
This fascinating book unfolds an amazing pattern of commercial dealings with the French. While French forces threatened the borders of New York and French naval squadrons entered and left the West Indies at will, New York merchants carried on a complex and profitable trade with the French controlled islands!
Any and every means was used to transport to the French Islands New York goods and take away valuable sugar, coffee, and indigo. Truxes explains how authorizations for prisoner of war exchanges (Flag-of-Trucers) were cover for shipping cargoes in and out of French West Indian ports. False clearances to British-controlled ports were another means of evading capture, as was shipping through the Spanish port of Monte Christi-- which only seems to have existed to facilitate trade in and out of the French colony of St. Dominque (Haiti)!
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Format: Hardcover
Defying Empire shows that the story of the dirty American politician is even older than America itself.

This is a compelling, previously untold (but true) account of New York elites who engaged in illicit trading with the French enemy just before the American Revolution (during the Seven Years War).

The story features characters that jump off the page as they willingly trade their patriotism for war profits using intricate smuggling schemes. Many of the main culprits went on to achieve ambitious political careers in the U.S.--and some of them become our Founding Fathers.

This book touches on several themes that we can relate to in contemporary life, such as "get rich quick schemes" involving participation at all levels of government and business, the seduction of war profits, and power-hungry political couples.

This book is perfect for anyone with an interest in the dark side of American history and/or the city of New York.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The overall arching question this work asks is "What part did economics play in the colonial Atlantic World?" According to Truxes, quite a bit actually. Basically the work concentrates on the trade economics of the colony of New York shortly before and during the Seven Years War. What it explores is the ways that New York traders kept on trading with the French during this period and how that exemplified an interdependence and interconnection within the colonies of North America rather than the interdependence and interconnections between colony and metropole. One other theme this work explores is the effects of Imperialism on North America and how colonists reacted, adapted, and accommodated it. If you are studying Atlantic World, First British Empire, or Colonial North America I would recommend reading this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Defying Empire is a revolutionary work, exploring how colonial New York merchants traded with the enemy during the Seven Years' War. Thomas Truxes's masterful research has produced a book that opens the door to a whole new world of Colonial American life, through trade and commerce. Using vital resources such as naval logbooks, letters, newspaper articles, court documents, and other manuscripts Truxes has pieced together the story of how colonial New York merchants defied Great Britain in her struggle for imperial mastery by trading with the French enemy in time of war and Britain's responses to this treachery. This story offers a riveting prelude of the diverging interests between Great Britain and her North American colonies, which ulimately led to revolution. What is amazing about this book is that it is not only straightforward but also very descriptive, satisfying the pleasures of both the informed and novice readers. Moreover, the imagery of, for example, "Gale-force winds" or the "damaged frigate limped into Port Royal Harbor" really brings the story alive and keeps the reader engaged. The additions of a chronology, glossary of terms and persons, and a list of statutes is very helpful and displays Truxes's desire to inform his audience of the period in question. In conclusion, Defying Empire is a magnificent read and the model for future research on this topic.
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