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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 1759 - the fourth year of the Seven Years War - the British defeated the French in arduous campaigns on four continents and also achieved absolute mastery of the seas.
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 Brtiain 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. It also brought about the War of Independence, the acquisition by Britain of the Falkland Islands and, ultimately, the French Revolution.
"The entire history of the world would have been different but for the events of 1759," McLynn (Wagons West; Napoleon; etc.) argues in his stylish account of a year crowded with scheming, battles and British conquest. That year was the fourth in the Seven Years War, a struggle between France and England for global dominance that was fought worldwide. McLynn focuses on the deadly conflict, contrasting the two nations' differing wartime policies and showing how the combination of Britain's maritime prowess and sheer good luck helped it emerge triumphant, albeit by a narrow margin. Elegantly explicating the geopolitical tensions, military technology, tactics and topography behind each battle, McLynn portrays the leadership of stalwarts on both sides. He also reveals various military blunders and maligns the often celebrated Gen. James Wolfe, who took Quebec for Britain on the Plains of Abraham. McLynn brilliantly delineates the cat-and-mouse maneuvering of the duke of Choiseul, intent on invading Britain, and his dupe, Bonnie Prince Charlie, intent on Jacobite restoration. He leads each of his fascinating chapters on the campaigns with a tantalizing taste of the general cultural scene in 1759, ranging from literary innovations such as Laurence Sterne's novel Tristram Shandy to the ethics of Orientalism. Splendidly narrated, with balanced insights into the Native American aspect of the French and Indian Wars, McLynn's book will enthrall all lovers of history told well. 16 pages of b&w illus. not seen by PW.