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 spends a fair amount of time looking at the differences between British regulars, and provincial (largely New England) soldiers. Commanding officers generally distrusted the provincials, finding them to be horribly insubordinate. Americans tended towards a world view of contracts, and saw military service as such (including a term of service, after which the contract was void), instead of pure subordination to authority. Moreover, the poor, underemployed, class that British soldiers generally came from did not really exist in the North America; there wasn’t enough population to have spare workforce lying around.

In addition, there is a very welcome focus on Indian relations. One of the overall focuses is how the Iroquois Confederacy managed to undermine its own position (largely while trying to strengthen it), and the shift of circumstances broke their ability to hold the Ohio watershed free of Europeans. There’s some very good looks at the internal politics of the major colonial states, and just how dysfunctional they could be (to the point that I’m wondering where to find good books on Colonial Pennsylvania and Virginia).

And, it’s largely aimed at showing how all the effort put into winning a war in North America caused the dissolution of the empire that existed before the war. The war tested the United Kingdom’s abilities to the utmost, and brought a lot of attention to a part of the world that had been somewhat allowed to drift along. The pressures of the war got the various colonies working together for the first time, and also came with a greater realization of how much there was to administer. The book continues on directly with Pontiac’s War, and the economic downturn that came after the peace. It effectively finishes up with the Declaratory Act, and shows how the Sugar Act was a finely-crafted bill meant to stimulate the New England economy at the same time it raised revenue.

There’s a lot of things going on in this book, and they’re all handled well, and at reasonable length. I don’t know that he entirely succeeds in his prime goal of showing just how the act of gaining a large chunk of North America from France led Great Britain to lose that part it had started with, but the through lines are there, and it is all well handled.