Professor Fred Anderson is considerably one of the pioneering historians who commenced in giving light to the importance of historical events and incorporating these for the benefit of the contemporary society. Due to his aim in exploring the unprecedented historical perspectives of America and the significance that it may have made to shape the country, he has provided an account on the Seven Years’ War which has given such great ordeal for several scholars and the general public. In his book, The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War, published in the year 2006 by Penguin Classics Publishing, is perhaps one of the most indulging masterpieces he has written catering a matter of five centuries of American history with a coherent and sturdy sense of point of view. Numerous critics and historians linger on the idea that the Seven Years’ War is worthy to be coined as the “true World War I”—which on the context of literature is barely sought in characterization.
Fred Anderson, a graduate of Colorado State University, garnering his B.A. in the year 1971 and Ph.D. in the year 1981 at Harvard University is a professor of history and a self-proclaimed humanitarian and social welfare service advocate. As a historian, he has written several books namely, The Dominion of War: Empire and Liberty in North America (2005); with author, Andrew Cayton, Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America (2000); and his recently published book, The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War (2006).
In a total of five books written and edited, he has proven himself worthy for the reputation that he is enjoying and continuously inspiring several historians to prove and put into literature not only what has long been written and carved in the Stonehenge of Historical perspective but to dwell more on what is seemingly true and beneficial not only for the purpose of prose writing but American History, at that.
This popular version of the classic American story is considerably accompanying the volume to the January 2006 PBS documentary. Its excellence introductory scheme presents a conflict by which most Americans are familiar of which has been established by Winston Churchill as the first worldwide war, which on a larger perspective focuses on North American arena collaborated with “transformation of colonists’ world fever” and consequently termed as the event that “shaped America” (Anderson, 2006). The conflict is in point of fact the encouraging factor in the most vital instance which in light portrays how the colonies “conceived themselves as a mutually inhibited factor in the British empire along with the concept that Britain did not actually share such connotation leading to strife and revolution.
In the opening parts of Fred Anderson’s work, it can be noted that he argues that men must unify themselves from the various ranks against the ‘seven-league giant’ through the force of their ideas since ideas cannot be physically destroyed. While it is remains feasible that ideas cannot be destroyed in the physical sense and that while they can significantly proliferate and claim the victory of an entire nation, the role of sheer physical force in propelling such ideas towards certain goals cannot be denied. It should be noted that ideas have to be juxtaposed with physical and actual attempts of progressing towards a certain goal which, specifically in the context of Anderson’s The War That Made America, is the creation of an American government in the strictest sense. By remaining as mere ideas contextualized solely on that rational or thinking part of human existence, ideas can hardly be a revolutionizing tool in altering the undesirable elements within the society.
The outbreak of the French and Indian War in 1754 and its ultimate settlement in the Peace of Paris in 1763 destroyed French trade and political power in the Southeast. In 1759 Edmund Atkins, the chief British agent to the southern tribes, moved into the vacuum created by declining French power to negotiate a peace treaty with the Choctaws. Throughout the first half of the eighteenth century the Choctaws had been in a position to play both ends against the middle, but now they had to deal with the British. In the years 1754 to 1763, the Native Americans fought together upon the “call for attack” considerably, after a long wait of foreign relation ordeals. The war between the key groups has been anticipated to be in the light of moving towards the wrath of power and the rage for sham.
Further, the unprecedented coverage to the role of the Native Americans in accordance with the thrash about the exhibition of the war paved the American government a manhole in the context of “obliteration or suppression of native societies”—totally a manifestation of deliberative anonymity in establishing the French and Indian War in year 1754; wherein seven years later, all the efforts of the empires boiled down to a belligerent success of England. Within the schema of less than 300 pages, the book coherently discussed what the public needs to know on the details which were in one point a factual and non-exploitation deliverance.
The French and Indian War is perceivably one of the highest regarded texts in the arena of American history. The book, as documented by PBS television and provides a detailed and logical explanation on the conflict between the French and Indian War which comprises the clashing of three dominating empires: the French, the English, and the Iroquois—which in essence had the Iroquois have total domination over the Ohio River Valley—keeping the English and the French to move out from the whole vicinity.
Precisely, a large number of Iroquois has collaborated so as to pursue the rage against the English inhabitants through a power vacuum; which on the other hand has struck the French crown to subside away with their aim. Consequently, a Virginia militia under the name of George Washington made a reconnaissance of force to get a glimpse of the mentioned dilemma and in the aftermath of a brief firefight, the British forces were coerced to “evacuate the lands of the king of France, or suffer the consequences.”
With this, the French empire held no choice but to seek all means of having a valuable reason to declare a war on Great Britain. Like what has been anticipated, there commenced a vicious war embroidered with ambush, massacre and fierce—a symbolic dissonance at Montreal by which both the English and French commanders were and had been piously wounded and scarred in the most literal and mortal sense of the word. French defeat, however, cleared the way for the English conquest of Canada—hence giving the expansion-minded-colonists, with the inclusion of Washington, a conception that they are to take care themselves without help from the mother country, an idea that soon would be tested.
In another sense, there should be the ‘correspondence’ between such ideas and their physical or actual manifestation. The absence of such a correspondence may very well inhibit the ideas from ever reaching the desired outcomes, for what good is a prolific idea that is short of touching the actual existence of social problems and the reality of the clamoring for a physical government? Will ideas alone revolutionize a whole nation without even concretizing these ideas? Apparently, the answer to these questions is a resounding skepticism.
Conclusions and further remarks
History, at the least, tells one that most, if not all, of the changes or alterations in the society have, in one way or another, physical and actual movements which are strongly fastened to certain beliefs and ideologies. For instance, the American Revolution is considered to be founded on political and social ideologies that greatly contribute to the social movement during those times where the metaphorical ammunitions for artilleries are ideas that define what is being aimed at. Wars in America are likewise strongly founded on the correspondence between ideologies and the actual manifestation or enacting of these ideas. Nevertheless, Anderson also recognizes the notion that bloodshed is a strong coefficient of his proposed ideas of the unification of the American people and the establishment of a government solely their own and from their own—the French, Iroquois and the British Empire were all after dominance.
Conceivably, Anderson strengthens to solidify his claim by suggesting that those who would seek the governance of America must focus on and attempt at identifying the reality of the nation and of the people—of the existing diversity that direly needs unification—in order to fulfill the idea that the spirit of the government is indeed the spirit that is truly derived from America and not from any other. Hence, for those people seeking to identify what is being suggested to be identified must necessarily have the keen perception to not only feel what is real but to notice and extract the solutions for the reality of the social problems or, at least, of what is intended to be addressed. Otherwise, those who seek to eliminate the external or foreign elements seeping into American thoughts will utterly fail for lack of the capacity to transcend the blurring of the mind and of critical thinking—which if taken into analysis was basically falling on the streamline of “deception” as the vanguard for the war.
Although native forces—‘forces’ not to be limited in the military sense—can keep at bay impending external or foreign forces from entering the layer that separates what is pure from what is alien, these same internal forces have a connection with the external forces in one way or another. Part of the evidence to this can be rooted from the argument that there is no such thing as a pure race that is distinct from the rest of the races since all of mankind emerged from a single ancestry otherwise known as Homo sapiens. With the idea that all of humanity came from a single line of ancestry, by definition there can be no such thing as ‘race’ and that the demarcation between the American race and the ‘other’ races is dissolved. Technically, it may be true that mankind belongs to the same ancestry. Practically, there are staggering realities that ultimately create a wide space between socially constructed ‘races’ or equivalents thereof.
Moreover, cultural relativism proclaims the idea that several values such as ethical values of rightness or wrongness may actually vary from culture to culture, and that cultural supremacy or the superiority of one culture from the other relatively varies as well on certain cultural perspectives (Schmidt 1955). From this, one can observe that Anderson’s story on the “war” conveys the idea that, by excluding anything that is foreign to the system of ideas of the American population, the American ideals are preferred over the foreign ones.
Although there is no explicit mentioning that American ideals are far off better than imported ideas, by embracing American ideas in the formation of a unique government one actually albeit subliminally pursues the underlying assumption that what is native is more preferred since it applies better and fitting to the contextual nature of America and, therefore, is superior over the rest at least when put into the context of the formation of a unique government. Interestingly, cultural relativism tells us otherwise. The American attempt to furnish for themselves a unique government excludes the assumption that imported ideas may also serve a contributive purpose in meeting such an end in replacement for defunct native ideas.
Undeniably, the production of Anderson’s work is but a manifestation of “trial and error” hence, undermines the fact that there will be mounting multifarious criticism out of the biases in the quest to establish various assertions. While The War That Made America purports to assert for an American identity through its government and purely American ideas while straining foreign elements away from such a glaring feat, it also substantiates on the thesis of using the American diversity as a means towards unifying the whole, condensing them altogether into a single native label called ‘America’ without discussing much about the weakening force.
Nevertheless, Fred Anderson nails the crucial point in his work—the great significance of ideas in the advancement of an American identity—by taking consideration the role of ideas in revolutionizing a nation flustered with unfamiliar or imported ideas. While it may be the case that ideas without corresponding actions are like vehicles without wheels, it certainly is the case that actions without ideas are like violent storms which display their destructive might while leaving debris and rubbish after the winds and heavy rains abate.
Anderson, F. (2006). The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War. New York, NY: Penguin (Non-Classics).
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