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

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  1,618 ratings  ·  69 reviews
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
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Paperback, 912 pages
Published January 23rd 2001 by Vintage (first published 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeremy Perron
As I explained in my last few posts, a short while ago, I decided to do a straight reading up on the history of my country. Not by a series of biographies or of any particular event; but a simple march through the ages exploring all the eras of the United States of America. The biggest challenge is to find books that try their best to explore from multiple perspectives in order to avoid just one narrow view, without at the same time surrendering a general narrative that is both readable and enjo ...more
Jerome
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" stand ...more
Martin
Historian Fred Anderson’s thesis in ‘Crucible of War’ is that by winning the Seven Years’ War, known in the colonies as the French and Indian War, Great Britain acquired an empire in North America whose people it could not coerce and vast lands it could not control. Thus, the subtitle is ‘The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766.’ The new empire would prove hollow.

In Anderson’s view, the tendency to use the Peace of Paris in 1763 as the starting point of re
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Laurie
The Seven Years' War (to Americans the French and Indian War) was far more than an armed argument over the boundaries of the American colonies and the power of French traders amongst the Indians. It was, in many respects, a "first" world war, being fought in North America, Europe, the West Indies, India and the Philippines. It changed forever the balance of power between Britain and France. And it sowed the seeds of the American Revolution. Anderson's 746 pages of text and 80+ pages of notes bri ...more
David Russo
A really good book. Fred Anderson attempts to connect the impact of the Seven Year's War with the emergence of the American Revolutionary War. Anderson does an excellent job of including the writings and speeches of many persons living in the time period discussed so as to prove his arguments, and I especially enjoyed his use of maps of not only North America, but the world. This book is quite large... but NOT dense. The Seven Year's War, more commonly called the French and Indian War, as many d ...more
Jason
inston Churchill called the Seven Year's War the first world war, and it can be argued that it was the first, in a string of five great power wars over 190 years, leading to World War II. But for most students of the modern world, especially Americans, who may be unaware that a world war, a great power war was sparked just outside of today's Pittsburgh, PA. If it is thought of, the Seven Year's War is remembered as nothing more than a prelude to the American Revolution. Fred Anderson, of the Uni ...more
James
When I was hiking on the Appalachian Trail, a common rejoinder to whining about terrain was, "They fly airplanes to Maine, you know?" If you want to take on a tough guy task, it was implied, then either act like a tough guy and stop complaining or buy a plane ticket. I thought about the airplane to Maine while trudging through this book. Fred Anderson has written a pared-down version of Crucible of War ( at a very reasonable 288pp) called The War that Made America. I, however, scorned a moderate ...more
Ron Lavery
I love reading History written by a good writer. I also love it when I can learn something new. I have read a lot about American history including several books about the colonial era. This book was by far the best about the immediate pre-revolution era.
What I really liked is the way you could really get a feel for what motivated the people responsible for the "historic facts": All of the individual interests creating disagreement and turmoil within each colony, their inability to agree on much
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Art
This serious work of American history does not take the easy route. At over 750 pages, the French and Indian War is described in deeper levels of details and analysis that I ever thought possible. The French and Indian War has always been given short shrift in American History. Probably because it occurred before there was an America, and most of the well known heroes were British Generals. Many of which became the "enemy" during the American Revolution.

The author makes several attempts to port
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Matthew Linton
Fred Anderson's massive synthesis of the Seven Years' War and ensuing imperial crisis is an impressive achievement borne from nearly two decades of historical research. Ranging from the beginning of English colonial settlements in North America and ending with the Stamp Act crisis, Anderson successfully navigates an incredible time span weaving the intertwined stories of English imperial dominance with French and Spanish decline and American Indian politics.
Combining the British, French, America
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Theo Logos
`Crucible of War' is a tremendous achievement - a comprehensive, informative overview of The Seven Years War that is accessible while maintaining scholarly rigor. Prof. Anderson presents a sweeping, densely detailed, big picture view of the war in prose worthy of an exceptional novelist. In doing so, he very well may have created the best, modern, one volume history of the war available today.

Anderson writes that The Seven Years War was the most important war of the 18th century, not just a sort
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Jim Graham
By bringing together the various colonies in their defence against the French, the British inproved the co-operation between them, and sowed the seeds of revolution that followed. Not only did British funds invigorate the local economies, and give them the structures they would eventually use against the British, but if it were not for the post-war tax, designed to generate funds for the development of the colonies, (and were never destined for the UK's coffers), our cousins might still be our b ...more
Brent
Read this book! Ok, it's 700+ pages, but man, it moves.
Seven Years' War was a World War in every way, including the time frame of 12-13 years covered by this book.
Highly recommended.
Mark
Though long overshadowed in the traditional historical narrative by the American Revolution, the Seven Years’ War, as Fred Anderson argues, is the most important event in the eighteenth-century North American history. Fought in the untamed wilderness which both France and Britain claimed, the struggle brought an end to the French empire in North America. Yet ironically in doing so, it sowed the seeds for the eventual collapse of Britain’s own empire in the Americas by expanding it beyond a manag ...more
Al
This is probably one of the best history books I have ever read. This is in no small measure due to the fact that Anderson is a terrific writer, which made this a very hard book to put down, despite its length. His style made the book flow, and I am amazed at his ability to easily sequence the multitude of events which took place in Europe and in North America. There were no rough transitions, and more importantly, Anderson was able to effectively transition from the strategic to the operational ...more
Jas
...or maybe three stars. At around 750 pages, this was a long haul, but it filled in many gaps in my knowledge. It is not a military history, though I might have liked reading more of that concerning Frederick the Great. Its goal was to detail the war's influence on the split that led to the American Revolution.

The coming and going of this policy or that sometimes got hard to wade through, but that's just the way it is. I'm sure nothing has been left out.

I did already understand that the colon
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Chuck
An excellently written book on the the French and Indian War. It covers the entire war from inception in Virginia and Washington's expeditions to the Froks of the Ohio, through the post war ramifications of English and Colony policies. It also summarizes the other theaters including European, Carribean, African, and Indian.

The book thus covers a huge geographic and temporal area. And the book, at almost 750 with another 50 pages of notes, is itself huge.

Most interesting and enjoyable is that the
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Marcus
I must admit that I find it somewhat difficult to review this book, for the simple reason that it turned out to be something completely different from what I wanted and expected it to be. When I picked up "Crucible of War", I was looking for a single volume that would give me solid introduction to French-Indian War. This it does, but it's really a side-product of author's effort. First half of the book does indeed provide very competent overview of operational, political, social and economical a ...more
Jeffrey
I am only 6 pages in, but it is clear that the thesis of this book inspired The War the Made America. If you haven't seen that documentary and are even vaguely interested in history, you owe it to yourself to see it. On with the reading.

Okay, this is a great book. I learned tons. It certainly helps to have lived "back east" now for a couple years, as I had a much better idea of the geography out here. I really need to find an even-handed biography of George Washington now, as this book paints a
...more
David Bird
Growing up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, it was very easy to believe that history was something that happened elsewhere. We had Ephrata Cloister, to be sure, and this and that old building that harked back to the late 18th century, but nothing really of events, at least as the stories were usually told.

Anderson's book, for me, was revelatory: it shows the moment when the frontier was in the part of Pennsylvania that I knew best, shows the huge role of native Americans, and how it could hav
...more
Steven Stern
What a clear and cohesive book that covers a huge amount of stuff and made me feel, for the first time, that I have even a little bit of a grasp on the issues that drove the 13 colonies into war with Great Britain! Written in small chapters, most of which can stand alone as strong essays, I found Anderson's book to be really easy to digest. His writing is skillful and has humor to it.
murph
Easily one of the most informative history books I've ever read. Anderson examines an impressive array of factors that led to the French and Indian War - in detail. Historical figures like Washington and William Pitt become comprehensible personalities - you see the world through the issues of their day. Anderson also illustrates all the major battles with maps from the period - a nice touch I wish more books would take up. Seeing Fort William Henry's fortifications illustrated in the official a ...more
Neil Geisel
Highly recommend this reading. It is an investment of your time. It took considerable effort to push through, but a much broader understanding of history resulted and I am pleased at retaining a generous portion of it. I didn't go looking for this book, it found me! It is a great addition to our library and is an important resource concerning American history.
Steve
Talk about a "one book" source of knowledge! I purchased this during a visit to the NPS around Fort Ticonderoga as it fit the environment. The book is factually well written, giving a very good overview of not only the French and Indian War in North America but the events shaping it in England politically and the European drivers. It also noted the economic and cultural relationship between the British/Colonials and the implications. It truly clarifies the conditions and emotional reasons for th ...more
Zeb Larson
A really well-written overview of the conflict. I read Montcalm and Wolfe by Parkman a few months ago, which was fun but very dated and limited in its perspective. This looks at how the war feeds into the American Revolution.
Graham Rollins
Reading Fred Anderson's opus on the French and Indian War/Seven Year's War in America was an eye-opening event for me in my history education. Anderson presents the conflict that pitted British and French colonial powers and their respective Native American allies against one another in the American theater of the Seven Year's War in exquisite detail and in the greater context of European power struggles and the ultimate independence of Britain's colonies in the decades following the war. Once y ...more
Sam Newton
Not the Gibbons 10-volume history of the Seven Years' War, but feels like the world's longest single-volume treatment of any war. The argument that the Seven Years' War was the prelude to the revolution (and not the Stamp Act and the traditional whig explanation) seems to carry a bit more weight. The colonists saw themselves as full participants in the British Empire, while the mother country saw them as subjects. These "competing visions of empire" eventually led to the Revolution. This is a ni ...more
Sam
Mar 01, 2012 Sam rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: American History readers
Recommended to Sam by: Good Reads
Shelves: history
Now that I have finished the book, Washington's part was small, but other important men were included too, Patrick Henry, John Adams, Ben Franklin, etc... Mostly Americia's roads and forts were built here with the help of the English, and whatever military training we got was from them. These things were important in the Revelionary war.
But mainly I learned about the Native Americans. England and America should be ashamed... When, in the past I thought this was Indians against the people in Am
...more
Mark
A grand narrative of the French and Indian War and its consequences. It combines Indian, colonial, & British perspectives while also contextualizing the conflict in terms of both the Atlantic trading system and the war simultaneously raging in Europe. Finally, it shows how the French and Indian War (& its Native American sequel, Pontiac's War) led Britons and Anglo-American colonists to develop conflicting conceptions of the British Empire that led directly to the opening stages of the c ...more
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American historian of early North American history.
More about Fred Anderson...
The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War The Dominion of War: Empire and Liberty in North America, 1500-2000 A People's Army: Massachusetts Soldiers and Society in the Seven Years' War George Washington Remembers: Reflections on the French and Indian War People's Army: Massachusetts Soldiers and Society in the Seven Years' War (Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American Hist)

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