This brief, broadly aimed book sets out to remind Americans that the War of Independence was not simply a land battle between Redcoats and insurgents, but a major theater of ""the first world war""--a war for empire that paused after what we call the French and Indian War, but whose costs impelled European powers to scramble all the harder for realms and revenues in the New World. The authors, military historians with diverse specialties, proceed to demonstrate the scope of the 1775-1783 fighting around the coasts of India, Africa, and the Caribbean, as well as the Mississippi Valley, where the Spanish Governor of Louisiana brilliantly defeated the British while the Dutch and French navies pinned them down from Ceylon to the English Channel. Diplomacy takes second place to armed deployments as the French mount an invasion of southern England in 1779 and seek to regain their Indian colonial foothold (both fiascos). However, the authors do credit the Americans' chief European envoy, Benjamin Franklin, with perceiving by 1774 ""how happy France and Spain would be to cause England some trouble at little danger to themselves."" But the Europeans both pro- and anti-British, remain rather abstract qualities: the excitement of the book is its unusually direct relocation of the war as a whole, and the freshness this lends to individual tales of glory like John Paul Jones' impertinent chase after the British warship Serapis. A valuable chronicle that shouldn't get lost in the post-Bicentennial ebb.