A history of the 100 years of “abuse, exploitation, mismanagement, and disrespect” suffered by the American colonies at the hands of Britain.
At the heart of the narrative lies the thrilling story of the 1745 taking of the French fortress at Louisbourg by a combined force of New England colonials and a halfhearted Royal Navy. Carr (All Brave Soldiers: The Sinking of the Anglo-Saxon, August 21, 1940, 2004, etc.) cleverly uses this triumphant moment to illustrate themes—British arrogance, indifference and greed—that he traces back to at least the end of the Interregnum where, after a period of benign neglect during which the colonists had become used to a large measure of self-government, Britain sought to impose greater control over its valuable possessions. Carr assembles the growing catalogue of American resentments: the heavy-handed and light-fingered rule of royal governors and military officials and their subsequent exoneration of any wrongdoing by British tribunals; the impressment of American citizens by the Royal Navy; seeming British indifference to the colonies’ vulnerability to Indian attack and French encirclement; Parliament’s imposition of taxes and trade restrictions; the shabby treatment of those who, either by their service or their financial aid, contributed to British success. Relaxing his galloping pace, Carr settles into the Louisbourg story, detailing the characters (his portrait of the conniving Admiral Warren is wonderful) and the campaign that captures so many of his themes. After the expenditure of much American blood and treasure, the colonials watched as British officials claimed credit, titles and plunder. Even more galling, the mother country, as always more concerned with global politics than American welfare, returned the hard-won prize only a few years later to France. No doubt Britain had her own list of grievances against the “ungrateful” colonies, but Carr restricts himself to the origins of American discontent, in place well before any tea was dumped into Boston harbor.
A well-calibrated account of the foreign and domestic events that prepared Americans, psychologically and emotionally, for the revolutionary break in 1776.