The French and Indian War was the world’s first truly global conflict. When the French lost to the British in 1763, they lost their North American empire along with most of their colonies in the Caribbean, India, and West Africa. In The French and Indian War and the Conquest of New France, the only comprehensive account from the French perspective, William R. Nester explains how and why the French were defeated. He explores the fascinating personalities and epic events that shaped French diplomacy, strategy, and tactics and determined North America’s destiny.
What began in 1754 with a French victory―the defeat at Fort Necessity of a young Lieutenant Colonel George Washington―quickly became a disaster for France. The cost in soldiers, ships, munitions, provisions, and treasure was staggering. France was deeply in debt when the war began, and that debt grew with each year. Further, the country’s inept system of government made defeat all but inevitable. Nester describes missed diplomatic and military opportunities as well as military defeats late in the conflict.
Nester masterfully weaves his narrative of this complicated war with thorough accounts of the military, economic, technological, social, and cultural forces that affected its outcome. Readers learn not only how and why the French lost, but how the problems leading up to that loss in 1763 foreshadowed the French Revolution almost twenty-five years later.
One of the problems at Versailles was the king’s mistress, the powerful Madame de Pompadour, who encouraged Louis XV to become his own prime minister. The bewildering labyrinth of French bureaucracy combined with court intrigue and financial challenges only made it even more difficult for the French to succeed. Ultimately, Nester shows, France lost the war because Versailles failed to provide enough troops and supplies to fend off the English enemy.