David L. Preston, Braddock’s Defeat: The Battle of the Monongahela and the Road to Revolution (2015)

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Deservedly a winner of the Guggenheim–Lehrman Prize for Military History, this magnificent book is an instant classic. The author’s innovative research, ranging from French, British, and colonial records through Indian accounts and lengthy canoe trips down French logistics routes, resulted in a vivid account of a disaster that has sharp lessons for today’s military. The Seven Year’s War, or French and Indian War, is rarely studied in military or history classrooms, yet its multi-sided warfare in North America, with great powers wooing native tribes they rarely understood (the French at least tried to grasp the cultural intricacies, while senior British officers were dismissive) and atrocities spinning out of control—along with the challenge posed by unruly local client governments—offers a great deal of cause for reflection on contemporary engagements in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere—where we too often play the role of the Redcoats.