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


Fred Anderson’s Crucible of War is probably my favorite history book ever written. The book is about the Seven-Years War, otherwise known as the French and Indian War – a war that led directly to the American Revolution. If there hadn’t been a French and Indian War, there may very well not have ever been a revolution of the English colonies in America. It’s well written and a volume that I recommend to everyone.

Following is a review written in 2013 by Andy Pomeroy:

Do you think you know what the Seven Years’ War was about? Do you really understand it influence on shaping the colonies as a precursor to the American Revolution? After reading The Crucible of War you may just change your mind.

Winston S. Churchill called the Seven Years’ War the first world war. North Americans associate it primarily with the British conquest of Canada. But the conflict — in which Britain and Prussia opposed France, Austria and Spain — spread to Europe, the Caribbean, West Africa, India and the Philippines. Though it formally lasted from 1756 until 1763, the war’s first shots were fired in the spring of 1754 between French troops asserting their country’s claim to the Ohio Valley and Virginians commanded by the 22-year-old George Washington. Two of America’s most eminent historians devoted years of research and writing to the great contest for empire. In the 20th century Lawrence Henry Gipson published a three-volume history. In the 19th century Francis Parkman considered his ”Montcalm and Wolfe” to be his crowning achievement. Now Fred Anderson, a professor of history at the University of Colorado, has written a panoramic narrative of the North American phase of the Seven Years’ War, an ambitious undertaking he discharges superbly. ~ CHARLES ROYSTER, New York Times Book Review (New York Times on the Web; Article Link)

Fred Andres is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His goal, like that of many historians, was to write a “book accessible to general readers that will also satisfy [his] fellow historian’s scholarly expectations.” In the Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766, Fred Anderson succeeded marvelously. This book is an historical narrative describing the events, people, and politics associated with what the colonists called the French and Indian War. In these pages you learn how and where many future leaders of the American Revolution developed their political view points and honed their military skills.

“Histories of the American Revolution tend to start in 1763, the end of the Seven Year’s War, a worldwide struggle for empire that pitted France against England in North America, Europe, and Asia. Fred Anderson, who teaches history at the University of Colorado, takes the story back a decade and explains the significance of the conflict in American history. Demonstrating that independence was not inevitable or even at first desired by the colonists, he shows how removal of the threat from France was essential before Americans could develop their own concepts of democratic government and defy their imperial British protectors. Of great interest is the importance of Native Americans in the conflict. Both the French and English had Indian allies; France’s defeat ended a diplomatic system in which Indian nations, especially the 300-year-old Iroquois League, held the balance between the colonial powers. In a fast-paced narrative, Anderson moves with confidence and ease from the forests of Ohio and battlefields along the St. Lawrence to London’s House of Commons and the palaces of Europe. He makes complex economic, social, and diplomatic patterns accessible and easy to understand. Using a vast body of research, he takes the time to paint the players as living personalities, from George III and George Washington to a host of supporting characters. The book’s usefulness and clarity are enhanced by a hundred landscapes, portraits, maps, and charts taken from contemporary sources. Crucible of War is political and military history at its best; it never flags and is a pleasure to read. ~ JOHN STEVENSON, Professor/Dean at the University of Colorado

Few people have a true appreciation for the role of The Seven Years’ War in both America as well as the world at large. Few historians have the knack for narrative that Anderson excels at within these pages. The pages turn as easily as those in a favorite novel.

Here is more praise for this historical work:

“A wonderful book. Fred Anderson brings to life  a war that irrevocably shaped our nation. I wish all history were written this well.” ~ SEBASTIAN JUGER, author of The Perfect Storm.

“Reading Crucible of War is an enriching experience…Anyone who thinks that individuals have no significant effect on the fate of nations should ponder Mr. Anderson’s cast of characters.” ~ The Wall Street Journal



List of Illustrations

Introduction: The Seven Years’ War and the Disruption of the Old British Empire


Prologue: Jumonville’s Glen, May 28, 1754

Part I: The Origins of the Seven Years’ War, 1450-1754

  1. Iroquoia and Empire
  2. The Erosion of Iroquois Influence
  3. London Moves to Counter a Threat
  4. Washington Steps onto the Stage…
  5. …And Stumbles
  6. Escalation

Part II: Defeat, 1754-1755

  1. The Albany Congress and Colonial Disunion
  2. General Braddock Takes Command
  3. Disaster on the Monogahela
  4. After Braddock: William Shirley and the Norther Campaigns
  5. British Politics, and a Revolution in European Diplomacy

Part III: Nadir, 1756-1757

  1. Lord Loundoun Takes Command
  2. Oswego
  3. The State of the Central Colonies
  4. The Strains of Empire: Causes of Anglo-American Friction
  5. Britain Drifts into a European War
  6. The Fortunes of War in Europe
  7. Loudoun’s Offensive
  8. Fort William Henry
  9. Other Disasters, and a Ray of Hope
  10. Pitt Changes Course

Part IV: Turning Point, 1758

  1. Deadlock, and a New Beginning
  2. Old Strategies, New Men, and a Shift in the Balance
  3. Montcalm Raises a Cross: The Battle of Ticonderoga
  4. Amherst at Louisbourg
  5. Supply Holds the Key
  6. Bradstreet at Fort Frontenac
  7. Indian Diplomacy and the Fall of Fort Duquesne
  8. Educations in Arms

Part V: Annus Mirabilis, 1759

  1. Success, Anxiety, and Power: The Ascent of William Pitt
  2. Ministerial Uncertainties
  3. Surfeit of Enthusiasm, Shortage of Resources
  4. Emblem of Empire: Fort Pitt and the Indians
  5. The Six Nations Join the Fight: The Siege of Niagara
  6. General Amherst Hesitates: Ticonderoga and Crown Point
  7. Dubious Battle: Wolfe Meets Montcalm at Quebec
  8. Fall’s Frustrations
  9. Celebration of Empire, Expectations of the Millennium
  10. Day of Decision: Quiberon Bay

Part VI: Conquest Completed, 1760

  1. War in Full Career
  2. The Insufficiency of Valor: Levis and Vauquelin at Quebec
  3. Murray Ascends the St. Lawrence
  4. Conquest Completed: Vaudreuil Surrenders at Montreal
  5. The Causes of Victory and the Experience of Empire
  6. Pitt Confronts an Unexpected Challenge

Victory Recollected: Scenographia Americana

Part VIII: Vexed Victory, 1761-1763

  1. The Fruits of victory and the Seeds of Disintegration
  2. The Cherokeet War and Amherst’s Reforms in Indian Policy
  3. Amherst’s Dilemma
  4. Pitt’s Problems
  5. The End of an Alliance
  6. The Intersections of Empire, Trade, and War: Havana
  7. Peace
  8. The Rise of Wilkes, the Fall of Bute, and the Unheeded Lesson of Manila
  9. Anglo-America at War’s End: The Fragility of Empire
  10. Yankees Invade Wyoming—and Pay the Price
  11. Amherst’s Reforms and Pontiac’s War
  12. Amhert’s Recall

Part VIII: Crisis and Reform, 1764

  1. Death Reshuffles a Ministry
  2. An Urgent Search for Order: Grenville and Halifax Confront the Need for Revenue and Control
  3. The American Duties Act (The Sugar Act)
  4. The Currency Act
  5. Postwar Conditions and the Context of Colonial Response
  6. An Ambiguous Response to Imperial Initiatives
  7. Pontiac’s Progress
  8. The Lessons of Pontiac’s War

Part IX: Crisis Compounds, 1765-1766

  1. Stamp Act and Quartering Act
  2. Grenville’s End
  3. The Assemblies Vacillate
  4. Mobs Respond
  5. Nullification by Violence, and an Elite Effort to Reassert Control

Part X: Empire Preserved? 1766

  1. The Repeal of the Stamp Act
  2. The Hallowness of Empire
  3. Acrimonious Postlude: The Colonies after Repeal
  4. The Future of Empire

Epilogue: Mount Vernon, June 24, 1767





Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766 is available from Family Roots Publishing; Price: $22.54.

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