In This Review

Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766
Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766
By Fred Anderson
Alfred A. Knopf, 2000, 862 pp
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This fascinating account of the war that paved the way for American independence and the transformation of the British Empire is all the more remarkable given its competition. The Seven Years' War (or the French and Indian War) has already attracted the attention of great historians such as Francis Parkman and Lawrence Henry Gipson. Now Anderson has produced a work that is in some respects superior to theirs -- and not only by virtue of its access to the most recent scholarship. His subtle and engrossing narrative deals with two strategic issues of enduring interest: the interaction of mutually miscomprehending military cultures (American, British, French, Canadian, and Indian), and the way in which the exercise of force has profound consequences beyond the foresight of political leaders and generals. His ability to empathize with his characters, while neither romanticizing them nor magnifying their significance, is one of this exceptional work's many virtues. As with any great historical work, this book is not a mere chronicle but a study in statecraft.