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The French & Indian War: Deciding the Fate of North America    by Walter R. Borneman order for
French & Indian War
by Walter R. Borneman
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, Audio, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

In the middle of the 18th century, trouble was once again disturbing the balance of powers in Europe. Seemingly perpetual rivals, England and France, were battling among themselves and cultivating alliances with other countries; each country had one goal: domination. The French & Indian War, Walter R. Borneman's compelling new narrative history, explores the people and policies involved in that rivalry between England and France, especially as it was played out in North America.

In 1758, the newly empowered William Pitt in England was finally politically positioned 'to accelerate his global strategy,', and central to his global strategy for British dominance was the problem of North America, a most bothersome focal point in the strategy. The French had dominated Canada and North America's major Midwestern river valleys, and the English had dominated the thirteen coastal colonies; each was now cultivating alliances with Native American tribes in efforts to control all rivers and regions west of the Appalachian Mountains. For many years, bloody battles had already been marring the promise of peace and prosperity associated with North American westward expansion.

Pennsylvanian Benjamin Franklin had noted that 'it was useless to hope for a permanent peace in the western regions of the colonies so long as the French were masters of Canada.' As if reinforcing Franklin's observation, Pitt had already acknowledged that the key to his global strategy was his firm conviction that '"Canada was to be attacked from all sides and exhausted."'

And so it was that England followed through on Franklin's and Pitt's beliefs. North America became the bloody chessboard on which the British and French - with the alliances formed, broken, and reformed among Native Americans - played out their brutal game for European dominance. When all the bloodshed and battles were over, the British were victorious in the so-called French and Indian War (also known as the Seven Years' War). In fact, the 'French and Indian War created the British Empire ... and had decided the fate of the North American continent; moreover, the war decisively expelled France from North America, although descendents of the French and French culture flourish to this day in the province of Quebec.'

Author Walter R. Borneman tells the story of the French and Indian War with diligence and enthusiasm. Thoroughly documented and engagingly written, Borneman's book features all the main personalities: Jeffrey Amherst, Edward Braddock, Thomas Gage, the Marquis de Montcalm, William Pitt, Robert Rogers, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Horatio Gates, Francis Marion, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, James Wolfe, Lord Howe, and others.

Through a nicely detailed chronological narrative, Borneman tells the complete, fascinating story, and he finishes his quite readable presentation with a number of interesting what if questions which focus on some of the most controversial issues in the conflict. Fresh and exciting throughout, The French & Indian War is highly recommended.

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