Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

The Global Seven Years War 1754-1763: Britain and France in a Great Power Contest

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

The Global Seven Years War 1754-1763: Britain and France in a Great Power Contest

Article excerpt

Daniel Baugh, The Global Seven Years War 1754-1763: Britain and France in a Great Power Contest (Edinburgh: Pearson Education Limited, 2011), 752 pp. Paper. £25. ISBN 978-0- 582-09239-6.

Over the next few years we are likely to see a steady stream of books examining the Seven Years War, but few are likely to be as broad in scope as this one. Most studies of the War concentrate on either the British or the French role in the struggle; with considerable success Baugh attempts to view the War from the perspective of both the major participants. Although the Seven Years War is often seen as a war between rival empires, he insists that 'the ultimate object of statesmen in London and at Versailles was to maintain or increase security, power and influence in Europe' (p. 1). It was the scale of the British victory that turned Britain from being a secondary continental power into a major imperial power. Baugh also challenges the assumption that Britain and France drifted into war in North America in 1754, pointing out that it was policies determined in Europe that led to conflict in the wilderness of North America. Thus policy-making in London and Versailles is examined at great, indeed exhaustive, length throughout the book.

In many ways Baugh's conclusions are very traditional. Britain won because of the 'superior quality of British leadership' (p. 17). William Pitt was 'a great war leader' (p. 195), while the duc de Choiseul - Pitt's French counterpart - was an 'execrable' one (p. 633). Baugh also recognises that this was a conflict that spanned four continents and was truly global in scope. He stresses the decisive importance of the British victory at sea. …

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