Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766 (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

A superb examination of the events leading to the American Revolution. Don’t be put off by the length of the book - Anderson’s fine writing and exhaustive research will keep you glued to the page, with notes that are equally as engrossing. Highest recommendation! — Louise Jones

Shortly after its publication in 2000 this superlative work received near unanimous praise as the finest single volume history of what Winston Churchill called history's first world war. 5 years later and that description remains unchallenged. As we commemorate the 250th anniversary of the French and Indian War (much of which occurred right here in greater New England, northern New York, and eastern Canada)it is important that this ferocious global conflict be properly understood as much more than just a prelude to the American Revolution. Fred Anderson correctly sees the Seven Years War (its European name) as the pivotal event that created the British Empire, altered world history for nearly two more centuries, and whose influence continues to be felt even at the start of the 21st century. This is not to denigrate previous historians'American emphasis. Indeed the war was accidentally started in 1754 by a 22 year old American by the name of George Washington. (Anderson's prologue concerning young George at Jumonville's Glen is simply first rate.) And later North American battles, sieges, and "massacres" also make for dramatic and compelling reading. Indeed, readers of Francis Parkman will find themselves on familiar terrain and aided by superlative maps and illustrations. With the exception of gross misunderstanding and distasteful racism regarding the role of Native Americans in the war, Parkman and his earlier cohorts weren't wrong in what they wrote; rather it seems that they chose to gloss over and bypass events which didn't occur in the New World. Fred Anderson corrects and expands the Indian role and brilliantly tells us the rest of the story as it unfolded on continents around the globe. — Bill Lewis


In this vivid and compelling narrative, the Seven Years' War–long seen as a mere backdrop to the American Revolution–takes on a whole new significance. Relating the history of the war as it developed, Anderson shows how the complex array of forces brought into conflict helped both to create Britain’s empire and to sow the seeds of its eventual dissolution.

Beginning with a skirmish in the Pennsylvania backcountry involving an inexperienced George Washington, the Iroquois chief Tanaghrisson, and the ill-fated French emissary Jumonville, Anderson reveals a chain of events that would lead to world conflagration. Weaving together the military, economic, and political motives of the participants with unforgettable portraits of Washington, William Pitt, Montcalm, and many others, Anderson brings a fresh perspective to one of America’s most important wars, demonstrating how the forces unleashed there would irrevocably change the politics of empire in North America.

About the Author

Fred Anderson is Associate Professor of History at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is the author of A People's Army: Massachusetts Soldiers and Society in the Seven Years' War (1984), as well as many articles, essays, and reviews.

Praise For…

"Vivid and memorable…eventful and fast-paced."–The New York Times Book Review

Product Details
ISBN: 9780375706363
ISBN-10: 0375706364
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: January 23rd, 2001
Pages: 912
Language: English