Drawing on primary materials - from texts in the Vatican archives to oral histories of the North American Indians - Frank McLynn shows how the conflict between Britain and France triggered the first 'world war', raging from Europe to Africa; the Caribbean to the Pacific; the plains of the Ganges to the Great Lakes of North America.
Although 1759 is not a date as well known in British history as 1215, 1588, or 1688, there is a strong case to be made that it is the most significant year since 1066. In the two great battles of 1759, Britain effectively beat France for global supremacy and founded the first British Empire. From the almost uninterrupted series of victories that year came momentous consequences. Victory in the East, in India and the Philippines, which in turn led to the colonisation of Australia and New Zealand. Victory in North America secured Canada for the empire and, by removing the French, created the conditions which inspired American rebellion. Until now, the story of the causes and consequences of The Seven Years War (1756- 63) has been largely obscured. As Thackeray famously remarked in Barry Lindon, it would take a theologian, rather than an historian, to unravel the true causes. Drawing on a mass of primary materials- from texts in the Vatican archives to oral histories of the North American Indians- Frank McLynn shows how the conflict between Britain and France triggered the first 'world war', raging from Europe to Africa; the Caribbean to the Pacific; the plains of the Ganges to the Great Lakes of North America, and also brought about the War of Independence, the acquisition by Britain of the Falkland Islands and ultimately, The French Revolution.
Frank McLynn is currently Visiting Professor in the Department of Literature at Strathclyde University. A full-time writer, his most recent books include Napoleon, 1066, Villa and Zapata, and Wagons West all published by Cape/Pimlico.
A remarkable new book on a crucial moment in British and world history.
The year 1759 may not appear in many history books as a time of earth-shaking events, but McLynn argues convincingly that it was a pivotal moment in world development - and certainly the most important year for Britain since 1066. This was the year Britannia came to rule the waves, putting the French to flight on all fronts and effectively opening the way to a century of world domination from London. It also led directly to the American War of Independence, the French Revolution, and a score of other events that turned history on its head. In 1759 Britain enjoyed an almost-uninterrupted string of victories in India, the Philippines and the East, and allowed for the colonisation of Australia and New Zealand. McLynn writes in a lively and fascinating way, imparting knowledge with a good, sensible dose of commentary. His text is lavishly illustrated with photographs and maps. This is one of the better history books. (Kirkus UK)
Prolific pop historian McLynn (Wagons West, 2003, etc.) covers the Birth of the British Empire in selective detail, restricting his expansive narrative to one year of geopolitics and military exploits. Like countless other busy times, the year 1759 climaxed a period of important change. From 1756 through 1763, England's struggle with France for world domination was played out in the Seven Years' War, also known in America as the French and Indian War. While Bonnie Prince Charlie dreamed of England's throne, Pitt dominated Parliament and King George II. Across the Channel, La Pompadour controlled Louis XV, the Mughal Empire was falling, and Clive conquered India. In 1759, Voltaire wrote Candide, Johnson wrote Rasselas, and Englishmen took charge of the West Indies, subjugating Guadeloupe. The French were defeated in Germany and Prussia. British tars sunk their fleet off the coast of Portugal. Most of the swashbuckling, apparently, was in North America, which inspires the author's most fervid prose as Rogers' Rangers roam the woods, Native Americans gather scalps, and Canada's forest prompts purple descriptions of "Stygian depths . . . crazed prodigality of Nature . . . a gallimaufry of sere and yellow ferns, feculent toadstools," and similar mulch. In McLynn's freewheeling text (unencumbered by footnotes), heroes and rogues act, armies march across the pages, and ships of the line sail on a sea of words. He retells in fine detail the great story of Wolfe's rout of Montcalm in the battle that killed both commanders. The author may dabble in obscure Briticisms ("winkled out," or "a spectacular cropper"), and someone should have reminded him that there's no "modern Tennessee-South Carolina border," but he deftly parades monarchs, generals, and politicians in full regalia through his big book about a short historical span. A zealous attack on a jam-packed moment of world change. (Maps and 16 pp. illustrations, not seen) (Kirkus Reviews)
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