Robert's Reviews > The French and Indian War: Deciding the Fate of North America
The French and Indian War: Deciding the Fate of North America
by Walter R. Borneman
by Walter R. Borneman
Narrative history at its most entertaining - also at its lightest. Borneman has a great gift for narrative, for telling a story. He holds the reader's interest - the pages fly by - and he tells us much about the French and Indian War. He places this conflict in its world-wide context, not limiting it to the familiar events in North America, but detailing often neglected battles, ones in far off quarters of the world, such as the British capture of Manila. He even includes, as a bonus follow up, a brief account of "Pontiac's Conspiracy". But strangely this is not a comprehensive history of the war. He completely neglects, or severely slights, everything that can be considered controversial - everything that could possibly perturb a complacent patriotism. For example, nothing is said about Washington's second trip to the Forks of the Ohio - nothing at all about his unprovoked attack on the French, about the mistreatment of the bodies of the French dead by his Native American allies, nothing about the circumstances of his later defeat at Fort Necessity, nor about his admission of war guilt in the subsequent surrender document. Other historians treat this in great detail, regarding these actions as the precipitating cause of the war. Bornement just omits it. And his treatment of Native Americans, not just in this event but throughout the war, is peculiarly "spotty". He only details their participation in the conflict when they are part of a European force. The entire border war is ignored - the war of small Indian war parties attacking isolated farms and settlements, as well as the colonists' indiscriminate attacks on even peaceful natives, e.g. on the "Moravian Indians". One wonders if this omission is the result of his unwillingness to confront the reader's previous prejudices of Native Americans - no matter whether the prejudice is that they are blood-thirsty savages or alternatively are noble victims of the white man's genocidal greed. Nothing is said to challenge either view. Other events that might darken the story of a noble war, of heroic men struggling to win a continent, are passed over in silence. The deportation of the Arcadians, the "ethnic cleansing of Nova Scotia, receives only scant mention. Nothing is allowed to be written that might raise doubts about American exceptionalism, about Divine Providence shaping the outcome - nothing that could possibly be considered "unpatriotic". This book, while highly entertaining and full of dramatic tales, is just escapist history.
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