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 Crucible of War
In this engrossing narrative of the great military conflagration of the mid-eighteenth century, Fred Anderson transports us into the maelstrom of international rivalries. With the Seven Years’ War, Great Britain decisively eliminated French power north of the Caribbean — and in the process destroyed an American diplomatic system in which Native Americans had long played a central, balancing role — permanently changing the political and cultural landscape of North America.
Anderson skillfully reveals the clash of inherited perceptions the war created when it gave thousands of American colonists their first experience of real Englishmen and introduced them to the British cultural and class system. We see colonists who assumed that they were partners in the empire encountering British officers who regarded them as subordinates and who treated them accordingly. This laid the groundwork in shared experience for a common view of the world, of the empire, and of the men who had once been their masters. Thus, Anderson shows, the war taught George Washington and other provincials profound emotional lessons, as well as giving them practical instruction in how to be soldiers.
Depicting the subsequent British efforts to reform the empire and American resistance — the riots of the Stamp Act crisis and the nearly simultaneous pan-Indian insurrection called Pontiac’s Rebellion — as postwar developments rather than as an anticipation of the national independence that no one knew lay ahead (or even desired), Anderson re-creates the perspectives through which contemporaries saw events unfold while they tried to preserve imperial relationships.
Interweaving stories of kings and imperial officers with those of Indians, traders, and the diverse colonial peoples, Anderson brings alive a chapter of our history that was shaped as much by individual choices and actions as by social, economic, and political forces.