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

4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,171 Ratings  ·  84 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
Jul 08, 2012 Jeremy Perron rated it it was amazing
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
May 25, 2012 Jerome rated it really liked it
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
Feb 05, 2012 Martin rated it really liked it
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
Jul 19, 2013 Laurie rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 16, 2013 David Russo rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 12, 2008 Jason rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 19, 2011 James rated it really liked it
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
James Hatton
Feb 02, 2016 James Hatton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you want to know about America's history, then this book is a must read. I've read a fair amount about America's history, and I'm frequently left asking the question, "But, why?" I know all histories try to answer that question, and some do a pretty good job of it, but no American history I'd read prior to this one answered that question, for me, about the years leading up to the American Revolution. I mean, American colonists revolted because they had to pay more taxes? Nonsense! That's stup ...more
John
Jan 02, 2016 John rated it it was amazing
I skimmed through this and took notes before my comps, and enjoyed the writing so much that I decided yes, I do want to read a 750 page history of the French and Indian War. Are you actually going to read this, though? Probably not. You are probably going to read the other book Anderson wrote about the same war, which is only 1/4 of the size (if you read anything on the topic). And that's fine.
Honestly, I kind of wonder why this book exists. I mean, it's a great book. It's witty, pleasant to rea
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Joey-Joey-Jo-Jo
Aug 19, 2013 Joey-Joey-Jo-Jo rated it it was amazing
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Ron Lavery
Jul 25, 2014 Ron Lavery rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 16, 2008 Art rated it really liked it
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
Dec 05, 2011 Jim Graham rated it it was amazing
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
Carson Stones
Jan 10, 2016 Carson Stones rated it it was amazing
Serves as an excellent prologue to the Oxford History of the United States.

Fred Anderson, in my opinion, makes a compelling case for beginning the revolutionary period not with the Stamp Act of 1765, but with a backwoods scuffle in 1754 which set off a chain of events ultimately leading to the permanent stationing of British troops in the colonies and the decision to impose taxation on the colonists for the maintenance of those troops.

Perhaps Professor Anderson's greatest feat is his ability t
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Bill V
Mar 06, 2016 Bill V rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fred Anderson does a wonderful job of covering the events in the years leading up to the American Revolution. I read this book mostly for the military campaigns of the Seven Years War (known in the US as the French and Indian War). As far as that aspect, the book does a wonderful job. The social, economic and political considerations of the time are also very interesting. This covers roughly half of the book.
The other half deals with the various problems that arose after the war. Except for an I
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Michael A
May 17, 2015 Michael A rated it it was amazing
I find it harder to evaluate history than fiction, but it doesn't stop me from trying. As a reader of historical narrative, I'm looking for two things primarily -- one is to add to the larger narrative of historical knowledge in my head in terms of content, the other is a reasonable historiographical stance taken by the author. In this case, both requirements were satisfied. There is not any sort of extreme writing bias taken by the author and it's chock full of juicy detail.

I chose this book t
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Brent
Sep 09, 2013 Brent rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 31, 2015 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 12, 2016 Al rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 06, 2014 Jas rated it really liked it
...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
Aug 24, 2010 Chuck rated it really liked it
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
...more
Marcus
May 30, 2012 Marcus rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Aug 21, 2008 Jeffrey rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 24, 2012 David Bird rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 26, 2015 Steven Stern rated it it was amazing
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.
AskHistorians
It was a great book about the events that proceeded (and Anderson asserts helped to bring about) the American Revolution while also touching upon the broader war between Britain and France throughout the world (Havana, the Philippines, India, Europe). But don't be fooled, this is mainly focused on the invasion of Canada and what would become the Midwest and the immediate aftermath.
Jeff Wilson
Dec 02, 2015 Jeff Wilson rated it liked it
There aren't too many books that give a good history of the Seven Years War (French and Indian War). This is one of them. To me, the French and Indian war was simply a backdrop leading into the revolution.I have no complaints about the content of this book. There are many complex interactions between people and countries that take place during this time and this book does a decent job of bringing them to the reader.

My complaint is only about the author's style. He had a tendency to belabor poin
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murph
May 17, 2008 murph rated it it was amazing
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
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book coping 1 3 Dec 08, 2015 02:54AM  
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American historian of early North American history.
More about Fred Anderson...

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