The Seven Years War was fought between North America, Europe, Russia and Great Britain, with Great Britain carrying the day in the period 1756-1763. In North America, adversaries against the Canadian and American colonialists had sprung up two years before the start of the war. The historical context of the war is centered on a conflict setting, the Great Britain against France which enjoyed the support of Austria, Saxony and Spain. In America and Asia, the French colonies were assaulted by the British colonies. Both New France and England struggled for acquisition of the continent and patronage of trade. Though separate, these conflicts were interlaced. Even though the war officially commenced in Europe in 1756, the atrocities had already existed for two years.
Several scholars have tried to recreate the events of the Seven Years war centuries later through research in various capacities. It is important to note that the incidents of the war are interpreted and presented by each of the scholars in unique ways with differences in approach, context, sources, as well as temporal choice of events to cover. The history of the Seven Years war has become a popular topic of study and has drawn several authors from various academic divides. Being a matter of classical history which is subject to individual interpretation and synthesis, it is commonplace to have clashing or similar views on several specific accounts of the war. New generation authors and early writers have engaged in heated debates and discredited each other s work while others applaud their peers or authors from a different time line
Francis Jennings is one of the scholars who have tried to recollect the event of the Seven Years of war in his book The Empire of Fortune. This book recreates the events of this war from the treaty of Lancaster in the year 1744 and goes all the way to the French and Indian wars. This book casts new life into the old subject of 18th century war. The author of this book highlights his purpose for writing which is essentially to rectify a record of this event that to him has been badly battered in previous accounts by his colleagues, whom he feels were unduly authoritative. In this regard, Jennings is up to the task of killing old myths and stereotypes surrounding the Seven Years of war that have since been propagated and perpetuated for aver a century.
Jennings outlines the politics of the time and assesses why and where historical events occurred. He deals with the big names but is also keen to shed light on them and their intentions. He is for Quakers and against those who have demonized them. Jennings in this book would want the reader to view both the White Man and the Red Man as equal human beings who followed their own interests and is consistent with other historical events in that light. Jennings detours to exhibit how the Indians were fairly reasonable being that more often than not the White Man used arm-twisting to obtain their objectives. He unmasks the poor scholarship of quite acclaimed authors like Parkman and in his view, Parkman is a venomous racist and a product and subscriber to Social Darwinism. The author feels Parkman was more than willing to distort sources to achieve his racist agenda.
A critical look at the book reveals how deft Jennings is in his writing and research. Jennings approach is ethnology-history and denounces the aspect of race as unwarranted and fallacious. He rather uses the concept of culture as more acceptable in modern anthropology in his analysis. Jennings appears to be a coiled critic spring ready to go at any author who has written about the history of the Seven Years of war. The author displays good use of primary sources.
Franz Szabo in his book The Seven Years of War in Europe, 1756-1763 recounts the stories of Joseph Goebbels’s to General Theodor Busse on April 1945.He introduces the propaganda minister as exhilarated at the death of Czarina, announcing it loudly to notify his interlocutor of the just occurred death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The demise of Empress Elizabeth in January of 1762 led to a radical change of fortunes for Prussia, when all seemed gone. The personal identity of Adolf Hitler with Frederick II had also strengthened as the war backfired on him. The occurrences of January 1962 demonstrated an example of the decisive duty of personalities at individual level in history. Szabo s book escapes criticism regarding downplaying this particular aspect of his theme of choice. This book features the high and mighty, from kings to ambassadors, as important characters.
Szabo has arguably done the best reassessment of the continental aspects of the Seven Years war on the basis of extensive primary and secondary source analysis. This work is a significant contribution to the nature of the warfare in the 18th century. In as much as the author is apparently an anti-Frederick, it should be noted that he further indicates that the Seven Years war was not in its nature a limited war. This puts him in harmony with the likes of Jeremy Black and Showalter who have vehemently dismissed the myth positioning 18th century as a limited war in terms of scope and objective. Szabo s assessment of Frederick II is convincing and interesting. He covers the diplomatic history of the European territories in a manner easily decipherable. More importantly, his ability to compound the military history with diplomatic history of the time is splendid. The book is an outright disappointment to those used to perceiving Frederick II as a military god.
Instead of approaching the Seven Years of war in its entire complexity, Szabo hints at another volume on the actual war. He puts emphasis on the differences between the two wars. The Franco-British war was fought in the non-European areas while the third Silesian war was waged versus Australia and its allies. Practically, it appears a daunting task trying to separate the wars because of the continental expanse of the Franco-British conflict and other factors. British and French wars strategies and objectives were bent on the wider world and the French inspiration for the European war was dashed fast as they got defeated in high seas and also in North America. Szabo needs the military developments in the far away areas for his analysis of peace process. Szabo s account of the Seven Years of war is primarily a narrative and he appears discretely classical about it. He recognizes the recent works of Jonathan Dull’s like The French Navy and the Seven Years’ War and Christopher Duffy s The Military Experience in the Age of Reason and Russia’s Military Way to the West. Apart from the Austrian archives, Szabo s work relies more on published primary materials than modern research.
The approach and content of the book categorizes it as a diplomatic history. Armies are seen to march, counter-march and clash bloodily in some instances. Battles are described as large unit teams far from each other. To support this methodology, there is need for battle maps which he does superbly except for Hochkirch. Time after time, Szabo acknowledges the significance of the small war waged by irregular forces like Cossacks and the reader observes a sense of reality of the war and how the war affected the civilian citizens. Cultural and religious aspects are passive in this book. Szabo, though shallowly, provides a proper detailed description of military undertakings and the political axis of the war. In the end, this book is not quite satisfactory, being a tense mix of history of the battles and play of morality in which the villain vanishes into the thin air. Its limited focus, biases and doodled narrative line makes the book hard to reach.
Fred Anderson also provides an account of the war in his book Crucible of War. The book is basically about wisdom and contains reverberations of the empire at all ages. The Seven Years of war were marked by arrogance, cultural intolerance and semi-professionalism. This marvelous work of rather synthetic history integrates a variety of sources, mainly secondary, and intertwines them into a splendid recreation of the Seven Years of war in the Americas. The book is most suitable for professionals bent on the flow and strategic ebb of wars. In the crucible of war, Anderson also uses primary sources but displays ineptitude in communicating twisted concepts stylishly and simply. Before Anderson s crucible of war, literary works on the Seven Years of war were focused on individual behavior; General Montcalm as well as Wolfe, or in the military incidents of the war. Anderson goes beyond that and places American Revolution in a totally new light. He achieves his goal by considering the complex cultural and social factors beneath the colonial bearing of the war. The Ohio valley is identified as the site of the contest between the English and French as both of them wanted to grab this fertile stretch of soil for their territories. He articulates how the removal of the threat from France was necessary before the Americans could come up with their own methods of democratic governance and play down their imperial British protectors. Anderson shows how every colonial rejection led to bloodshed.
The weight of the evidence he presents also gives him an upper hand. Anderson convincingly exhibits the need not to examine the 1764-1775 as a pre-revolutionary era, but as a post-war era as contemporaries view it. A post-war era characterized unfinished business and continental battles.
Daniel Marston gives his account of the Seven Years of war in his book Seven Years of War in Europe. He begins by introducing the reader to the conflict setting followed by a rough background of the nations and regions that took part in the war. This is important information but the brevity is not friendly to a beginner. The story continues with an examination of the intelligence used by each of the armies, their formations, as well as their strengths and weaknesses.
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These sections add value to the book but a page or a paragraph on the use of muskets could add greater support. Marston s narrative commences with a description of the military maneuvers that sparked the war before recurring annually, whereby he explores the themes and events in the European, Indian, and North American theaters as separate entities. Book navigability becomes a crucial issue when dealing with a multi page historical book spanning years and covering any number of topics. Marston s approach enhances the navigability of the book as the reader can skip and jump to their study areas, and converts what otherwise can be a hodge-podge of continents into a crisp clear understandable history. Despite the lack of integrated evaluation, Marston meritoriously merges these separate regions together.
The text in this book is quite easy to read and full of fine details, like the actual number of combatants. The last sections of the book feature a peep at the life of a nurse and a soldier who took part in the conflict, a fundamental examination of the economic and civilian impacts of the war, and then concludes. Nonetheless this book is a grossly military oriented with no political dimension of the event. There is scarcely any information on the state of the countries engaged, or the rulers details that have been integral parts of other essential history volumes. As a matter of fact, the Seven Year s war defeats the limitations characterizing Osprey s typical 96 page because while other books leave the reader with an appetite to read deeper into the subject, this edition leaves readers yearning for a few extra pages to square things. An introduction of larger contexts and more detailed maps would have enhanced the quality of the book. However, Marston has employed manuscripts and documents while introducing them in a solid academic fashion. Ultimately, the book is a concrete introduction to the military axis of the conflict and can be a good starting point for further study.
The Seven Years war: A Transatlantic History, by Matt Schumann and Karl Schweizer attempts to present what they deem as the first history of the conflict ever since Sir Julian Corbett s 1907 work, England in the Seven Years of war. The stated goals of the authors are to give a hint of the elusive history, making use of the past century and other remarkable scholarly works on this significant aspect of history, while retrieving from an assortment of archival sources seldom available to past generations. The book is made up of an introduction, chapters covering the source of the war, logistics and fiscal arrangements, domestic politics, as well as diplomacy, and a conclusion. The book successfully covers the overview of the war and as a starting point for further reading. The strong point of this book is the range of sources used in developing it. The bibliography shows that the authors actually compared notes with the archives of Germany, France, and other countries that took part in the war. The fact that two seasoned professors could conduct research in so many countries in various languages is creditable and allows the reader to appreciate the difficulties involved in making the history.
However, the campaign chapter complicates reading. This is observed in the deficiency of a map, making the whole endeavor of following up the campaigns very frustrating for those who do not know the geography. Also, with lots of information squashed in so little a space, the transitions from one scene of war to another appear erratic. The authors are obviously pressed for space but often try to give accurate descriptions of the war field occurrences but do not offer fine details. A typical example is the description of the battle of Leuthen where they go into the details any twenty first century reader would not know. Some sections on some of the battles are rather a mixture of brevity and specific details. A work so inclined on synthesis strangely deals with the battle at Plains of Abraham, suggesting a death wish motivated General James attack plan a proposition that Stephen Brumwell has recently challenged. Well aware of the difficulty involved in presenting tons of information in limited space, they acknowledge that indeed they would require more chapters to truly account for a history of war. The author equipped with a broad range of sources mapped the historiography of this war adding value to the work. Other than the origin of the war, the book covers the activities at land and sea, the effects of the war on logistics and finance, as well as its interactions with the domestic politics. The book also details the influence of the war on international relations and the peace approach. The role of personality and the pertinence of communication are well covered in the book. The book has basically situated the war in the context of 18th century diplomacy, politics, and logistics.
Stephen Brumwell in his book The British Soldier and War in the Americas begs to challenge the apparent image of the British army as starkly divided between the soldiers from the low castes of the society and aristocrats with the low class subject to disciplinary acts, and combat inspired by fear of arrogant officers. This way of characterizing the historiography is testimony to being a straw man. The British army exaggerated the hierarchy of class during that era and ruled by tyrant means. They also faced the problem of ineffectiveness of men placed within the officer corps. In attempting to respond to other historians tawdry depiction of the British army, Redcoats is seen to give excessive ground to those who celebrate it.
Brumwell attains enormous success in insisting that the Seven Years war was in all, a British victory, a point not quite emphasized considering the excitement about the provincial forces. The first chapter presents an overview of the war and recollects the large scale infusion of the British forces into their colonies, fundamentally inspired by the defeat of Braddock in 1755 and Oswego s fall in 1756. By the autumn of 1757, seven independent companies and 21 battalions totaling to 20,268 men were in effect. The net effect of this concentration was that the colonial provincial troops embarked on infrastructural roles like transportation and construction. This indicates that the red coats did most of the fighting and eventually won the war. One of the contributors to their success is seen to be the adaptability to different fighting scenes. The army employed a hybrid of European battlefield tactics and guerrilla tactics, leading to the light infantry strategy. In as much as Brumwell is keen to advice against hyping the adaptability of the British army, this advantage had long term impacts on the fighting tactics of the British.
Jonathan R. Dull in The French Navy and the Seven Years’ War presents a complete history from the French angle. The focus of the book is almost purely on diplomacy, strategy, and the economics of the war, qualifying it as a first cut work of seasoned history. The history book is comprehensive with most core aspects of the war covered. The book is without doubt well researched and he succeeds in tracking the military and political consequences of the warfare that shook Europe and North America. He also fills an important histographical void by concentrating on the hitherto neglected French navy and giving its operational history in a much broader political light.
Ultimately, the book adds in critical research to an already flourishing topic and will definitely be of use to those concerned with an account of high flying politics and military undertakings during the infamous Seven Years war. Jonathan chips in with a French perspective of this history in a study that has been, since time immemorial, dominated by English oriented researchers. This, therefore, creates an admirable balance in his work. This book should be the first stop for any person interested in western maritime and naval history. The book brings to light actual processes as governments conduct war; a sobering depiction of how probably governments still run today in terms of war. The author mints strategic and diplomatic matters into the overall history of the naval war.
The book positions the French policy as more logical and consistent than what has been previously written about it. It also brings to light that King Louis XV’s behavior during the war significantly influenced the results of the following Revolutionary War. The book conventionally covers the Seven Years of war and appears to be the most inclusive of French participation in the Seven Years war more than any other book done on this topic. It also assesses both phases of the war, clearly outlining the Indian and French war 1754-1760 in North America, and the Seven Years war 1756-1763 in Europe wars that are nowadays treated as independent. In analyzing the both phases of the war from all perspectives, Jonathan Dull not only displays that the two clashes are so intertwined in a complex manner, but also points out that the traditional understandings of the war are far from accurate. This work brings to light how the French navy could have featured significantly in the American independence war. There is attention to details of military failures, diplomatic, and political relations of the transatlantic zone during the war. After the death of Empress Elizabeth in January 1762, Emperor Peter is seen to take over with sympathetic policies towards Russia s prosperity and reconciles with Prussia. Later on, Catherine s foreign policy thwarted Prussia s attempts at enticing Turks and Tartars to join the war.
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