Mark H. Danley and Patrick J. Speelman, editors. The Seven Years’ War: Global Views. History of Warfare series. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2012. ISBN 978-90-04-23408-6. Notes. Maps. Illustrations. Bibliography. Index. Pp. lvii, 586. $252.00 (hardcover).
Most studies of the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) focus on either the conflict in Central Europe, especially the military campaigns of Frederick the Great, or the French and Indian War (1754-1763) in North America. The conflict, however, was much more widespread, essentially being a global war. As such, Dr Mark H. Danley of the University of Memphis and Dr Patrick J. Speelman of the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York, have gathered and edited a collection of essays written by seventeen historians concerning the series of regional conflicts known as the Seven Years’ War. Danley, himself, attempts to define the Seven Years’ War in his introduction essay, addressing the problems of the vast scope of actors, interests, issues, alliances, overlapping regional conflicts, and timetables. His main purpose is to expose the reader to the global nature of the conflict and the call for a reexamination of the Seven Years’ War (p.lvii).
The work contains twenty essays depicting the breadth of the Seven Years’ War. There are several essays that focus on interesting aspects of the war in Europe. Jürgen Luh explores Frederick II of Prussia’s statecraft concerning world politics and the Anglo-French competition for empire in the buildup towards the Seven Years’ War. Ewa Anklam focuses on military reconnaissance in the German theater of conflict. Gunnar Åselius provides detail concerning the Pomeranian War (1757-1762) involving Sweden and Prussia in northern Germany. Marian Füssel describes the Russian employment of irregular warfare, including the use of Cossacks and Kalmyks. Virginia H. Aksan explains the absence of Ottoman involvement on European battlefields, noting the Sultan’s diplomatic neutrality, the lack of military preparedness, and financial problems (p.165). Patrick J. Speelman tells about the outbreak and conduct of the Anglo-Spanish war that led from one disaster to another for the Bourbon Powers in 1762. Matt Schumann depicts the winding down of the conflict in Germany in 1762, showing that European international relations were in a “state of flux” (p.517). In addition to these essays, Armstrong Starkey explores the viewpoints of the philosophes regarding the war, Mark H. Danley discusses the British press and military thought, and Johannes Burkhardt stresses confessional elements between Rome and Prussia that threatened a religious war in the Holy Roman Empire.
There are four essays that focus on North America and the West Indies. Matthew C. Ward explains Native American diplomacy and alliances, stressing that “Native American alliances were central to the outcome of the Seven Years’ War in North America” (p.70). John Oliphant depicts the origins, conduct, and outcome of the Anglo-Cherokee War (1759-1761). Julia Osman discusses French officers in North America during the war. Richard Harding explores the conflict in the West Indies, focusing on the campaign of 1759 and the British capture of Guadeloupe, followed by the collapse of the French West Indies in 1760-1762.
As Danley and Speelman stress, the Seven Years’ War was fought beyond Europe and North America. G.J. Bryant writes two valuable essays on the Anglo-French conflicts in the Carnatic and Bengal. The author attributes British success to greater financial sources, superior grand strategy, better civil-military relations, as well as the navy and army (p.103). James F. Searing presents the Anglo-French conflict over Saint-Louis and Gorée in West Africa. Nicholas Tracy describes the British expedition and capture of Manila in the Spanish Philippines in 1762, leading to the question of the Manila ransom.
This collection of essays provides an outstanding glimpse of the global aspects of the Seven Years’ War. It contains important recent research on all theaters of the war. In the conclusion to the study Speelman suggests that historians look beyond the European, North American, and West Indian scope of the conflict. He believes that the “strands that connected the regional struggles under one umbrella conflict produced a global struggle of immense proportions that not only changed the trajectory of European history, but that of the modern world” (p.536).
Dr William Young
University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, North Dakota