A Few Acres of Snow: The Saga of the French and Indian Wars

A Few Acres of Snow: The Saga of the French and Indian Wars

by Robert Leckie
     
 

"A Few Acres of Snow" The Saga of the French and Indian Wars Robert Leckie King Louis XV of France was in conversation with Voltaire when he received the dreadful news that Canada was no longer French, but British. Aware of his sovereign’s anguish, Voltaire spoke to him consolingly: "After all, Sire, what have we lost—a few acres of snow?" To read

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Overview

"A Few Acres of Snow" The Saga of the French and Indian Wars Robert Leckie King Louis XV of France was in conversation with Voltaire when he received the dreadful news that Canada was no longer French, but British. Aware of his sovereign’s anguish, Voltaire spoke to him consolingly: "After all, Sire, what have we lost—a few acres of snow?" To read this expansive book is to recognize Voltaire’s wry consolation as one of the greatest understatements in history. Indeed, "A Few Acres of Snow": The Saga of the French and Indian Wars—which spans seven tumultuous decades of pre-Revolutionary American history—comprises much more than its subtitle suggests. By the time readers reach the climactic seven-year struggle of the French and Indian War, acclaimed military historian Robert Leckie has already illuminated in unrivaled detail the brutal combat, passionate conviction, and rugged determination behind the preceding three great colonial wars between England and France: the War of the Grand Alliance (King William’s War), the War of the Spanish Succession (Queen Anne’s War), and the War of the Austrian Succession (King George’s War). As in his previous bestselling historical sagas, Leckie imbues this latest with his celebrated sense of drama and eye for colorful, cinematic detail. His graphic, up-close depictions of countless battles waged through the trackless American wilderness speak powerfully to the horror and misery of the violent struggle. "A Few Acres of Snow" is particularly effective for its close attention to the far-reaching political and cultural origins leading up to the North American conflict—hearkening all the way back to the twilight of medieval times. From the increasing fragility of Christianity’s supremacy in an age of discovery and expansion, to the intricate machinations and power plays of kings and queens, to the emergence of an astonishingly lowborn illiterate named Christopher Columbus, Leckie provides perspective on exactly how the "New World" came to be such a fiercely contested prize in Western civilization. Packed with profiles of all the major players—including George Washington, Samuel de Champlain, William Pitt, Edward Braddock, Count Frontenac, James Wolfe, Thomas Gage, and the nobly vanquished Marquis Montcalm—"A Few Acres of Snow" culminates brilliantly in the savage, decisive confrontation at Quebec’s Plains of Abraham. Here the book affords readers an intimate look at the poignancy and paradox of Wolfe’s triumphant death. Also, Leckie compellingly suggests for the first time that Montcalm died knowing full well that he had been betrayed. In the long view, Leckie’s sweeping account shows us exactly why we speak English today instead of French—and reminds us how easily things might have gone the other way.

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Editorial Reviews

Dallas Morning News
As always, [Leckie] describes the maneuvers, battles, and results in telling detail with a cinematic style, and his portraits . . . are first-rate.
The Daily Reflector
Leckie's accounts of battles, important individuals, and the role of Native Americans bring to life the distant drama of the French and Indian Wars.
Library Journal
Prolific historian Leckie (From Sea to Shining Sea: From the War of 1812 to the Mexican War; The Saga of America's Expansion, LJ 11/15/93) examines the epic struggle of the British and French for the ultimate control of North America. Beginning with Columbus, Leckie takes us through nearly 300 years of exploration, Colonial wars, and conflict culminating in the French and Indian War. The result is a soundly researched narrative of American history from 1492 to 1763. The interaction of settlers, Indians, traders, kings, and politicians is presented clearly, but this is no book for the casual reader. One learns how both personal and nationalistic feelings influenced politics and warfare at the time; like the other periods he has documented, Leckie calls this period in our history a "saga." The book would serve well as a textbook on pre-Revolutionary America and is appropriate for serious students and researchers. Recommended for large public libraries and special collections in American history.--David M. Alperstein, Queens Borough P.L., Jamaica, NY
Kirkus Reviews
This latest entry in Leckie's ever-expanding series of popular military histories of the US (Okinawa: The Last Battle of World War II, 1995, etc.) displays both the author's idiosyncratic research methods and his tenuous grip on the principles of historiography. Beginning with a lengthy, superfluous account of the career of Christopher Columbus, Leckie proceeds by identifying the principal players and events in the violent pageant of the struggle for dominion in the New World—especially in Canada, a territory dismissed by Voltaire as "a few acres of snow." Although Leckie relates colorful anecdotes about such compelling figures in the French and Indian Wars as Samuel de Champlain, Count Frontenac, George Washington, and Marquis Montcalm (he includes some harrowing and gory accounts of the tortures administered by the American Indians to unlucky Jesuit missionaries and slow-footed farmers, some of whom were roasted and eaten), he fails to achieve an effective narrative balance. He does not appear to have any sort of principle to guide his choice and arrangement of details. A sentence that begins with Columbus in Reykjavik ends in 1950 with the US Navy in the port of Seoul; halfway through a perfunctory chapter called "Heroines of Both Frontiers," Leckie abruptly drops his discussion of courageous women and returns to battles and brutality and Real Men. Some sloppiness in writing and editing leave stylistic faults such as clichés ("kill two birds with one stone"), and use of awkward folksy locutions ("not worth a polliwog's tail"). Finally, there are weird diatribes against the "starry-eyed American liberals" of today and against Oliver Cromwell, whom he twice identifies asa "hymn-singing swine."

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780471246909
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
03/29/1999
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
6.47(w) x 9.59(h) x 1.41(d)

Meet the Author

ROBERT LECKIE is the author of over 30 books on military history, including George Washington's War: The Saga of the American Revolution, None Died in Vain: The Saga of the Civil War, and, most recently, Okinawa: The Last Battle of World War II.

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