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

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  3,378 ratings  ·  133 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.

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Paperback, 912 pages
Published January 23rd 2001 by Vintage (first published February 15th 2000)
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Start your review of Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754 - 1766
“It had been a lopsided skirmish. Around the rim of the hollow three of [George] Washington’s troops were wounded, and one lay dead; at its bottom the French had suffered fourteen casualties. One of the wounded, a thirty-five-year-old ensign named Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville, identified himself as the detachment’s commander. Through a translator, he tried to make it known that he had come in peace, as an emissary with a message summoning the English to withdraw from the possessions o ...more
Jeremy Perron
Jul 08, 2012 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
The Colonial
Jul 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Famed professor and historian Fred Anderson uses his brilliance and expertise on early American history to recreate and scrutinize the Seven Years’ War in North America, and in turn explain it’s everlasting effects on both a domestic and international scale. Anderson argues right from the opening that it was actually the French and Indian War—and not the Revolutionary War—that set off the Americans as a people and power to behold and approach with due caution and respect. With high regard for al ...more
Mar 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It is not very often you come across a history book that can be considered the authoritative account of a period. Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766 is one of the rare books to achieve this status, you will come to understand the “French and Indian War” or the “Seven Years War” in a new light. A through account of the “World” War that featured the North American conflict, the European conflict, the British efforts in India, the fight ...more
May 19, 2012 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
Myke Cole
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent narrative history of the social, economic, and military aspects of the Seven Years War, in both Europe and the burgeoning Americas, and their role in sparking the American Revolution. Anderson’s narrative style is brisk, and he does a good job of keeping dense topics like the economics of rum manufacture and export relevant and engaging to the overall story.

The author is also careful to hit the topic from all the relevant perspectives, allowing the reader a view from the socially high
Apr 11, 2012 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
Christopher Saunders
Sweeping chronicle of the French and Indian (Seven Years') War and its impact on both American and European society. Anderson posits that the war, often lumped together with the earlier dynastic struggles and interminable conflicts of the 18th Century, was in fact the Western world's pivotal event of the 1700s. From a minor skirmish between British surveyors (among them George Washington) and French soldiers over disputed territory in the Ohio Valley, to protracted campaigns and bloody set-piece ...more
Nov 19, 2010 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
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Rindis by: gkeizer
Shelves: history, kindle
The French and Indian War gets enough attention that I wasn't sure I was in need of a book just on that part of the Seven Years War.

Boy, was I wrong.

Narratively, the focus is around events over several hundreds of miles of indifferently-settled tracts of North America, and the personalities surrounding that. Just as a history of the main campaigns of the French and Indian War, this book has a lot to recommend it. Anderson also goes deep into the forces that shaped all of this. For example, he sp
Oct 15, 2011 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
May 07, 2011 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
Carson Stones
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Revolutionary era was exceedingly complicated. What follows is my attempt to make sense of it through six books:

1) Crucible of War by Fred Anderson

2) The Glorious Cause by Robert Middlekauff

3) Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution by Simon Schama

4) The Oxford History of the French Revolution by William Doyle

5) The Campai
Frank Theising
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, war-misc
This book is nothing short of a masterpiece. A thoroughly researched, excellently written, and comprehensive account of the Seven Years War (a.k.a. French and Indian War) in North America. Anderson’s historical analysis of the war and its ramifications is both brilliant and compelling. It is amazing that a conflict so consequential to the course of both American and world history has remained relegated to a mere footnote in history, just a hazy backdrop to the American Revolution. I highly recom ...more
Feb 28, 2008 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
David Russo
Nov 30, 2012 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
William Sariego
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
This weighty tome is a remarkable book. It is well written and researched, and the author's writing style is amazing. It almost reads like a novel than a typical historical work. if you are interested in the history of colonial America this belongs in your library.
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
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
This book focuses on the North American theater of the Seven Years' War, detailing the socioeconomic causes of the war, the major campaigns in North America, and describes how he war changed the relationship between Great Britain and the North American colonies which will lead to the American Revolution. The European theater is discussed but only to show how it impacted strategic thinking by the British. Actions in India and Africa are briefly described, but mostly as context for how the overall ...more
Jul 19, 2013 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
Daniel Greear
Nov 06, 2019 rated it liked it
This was not what I expected, I thought it would be a much faster and more enjoyable read. Don't get me wrong, this was a well thought out book and full of details (every darn detail) leading up to, during, and after the French and Indian War. The conflict was basically finished 2/3rds of the way through, and the rest was just the aftermath. The author did a remarkable job of discussing the battles, but I became lost time and time again in the politics of Great Britain in the mid-1700s. I read t ...more
James Murphy
Jul 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A reread.
Sep 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, american
Ever since the eighth grade I have been under the impression that the French and Indian War was made up of a handful of skirmishes between the French and some Indians around Canada-Maine border region. Needless to say that was not the case. In fact, the Seven Years’ War is arguably one of the most important world conflicts of the 18th century. Not only does it provide Britain near hegemonic status that it will not fully graduate to until after the Congress of Vienna, but it sets the stage for th ...more
Rob Roy
Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I remember studying the 7 Years War (French and Indian) War in school, and thought I pretty well knew about it. This book delves into what was a far more complex, and poorly taught in our schools war. The Seven Years War was the prelude to our Revolution, and is therefore well worth studying. The author not only follows the battles and campaigns but also the politices through out the war, and then continues through the repleal of the Stamp Act. The stage is set for our Revolution. If you are a h ...more
Brilliant chronicle of the war, its antecedents and its aftermath. Highest recommendation.
Alexander H. Ellis
Top notch history of the French & Indian War; indispensable to any interested reader of American history and critical to a well rounded understanding of the causes of the American Revolution. ...more
Mrs Sarah
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
This really is two books. The first, which recounts the causes and events of the Seven Years' War, is much better than the second, which recounts postwar British policy towards America. Nonetheless, I'm glad I read it.
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
Nov 24, 2015 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
Ron Lavery
Jul 25, 2014 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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Fred Anderson is professor of history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, He received his BA from Colorado State University and his Ph.D. from Harvard University.

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“Tanaghrisson stepped up to where Jumonville lay. “Tu n’es pas encore mort, mon père,” he said; Thou art not yet dead, my father. He raised his hatchet and sank it in the ensign’s head, striking until he had shattered the cranium. Then he reached into the skull, pulled out a handful of viscous tissue, and washed his hands in Jumonville’s brain.” 0 likes
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