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1759: The Year Britain Became Master of the World by Frank McLynn

By Frank McLynn

If now not for the occasions of 1759, the total heritage of the area might were various. referred to as the "Year of Victories," 1759 used to be the fourth yr of the Seven Years, or the French-and-Indian struggle and defeat of the French not just lead the way for the worldwide hegemony of the English language but additionally made the emergence of the USA attainable. Guiding us via England's conquests (and frequently super slender victories) in India, North the United States, and the Caribbean, Frank McLynn (Wagons West) controversially means that the start of the good British Empire was once extra end result of the good fortune than of rigorous making plans. in addition to stirring depictions of the 2 maximum battles of 1759, Quebec and Quiberon, McLynn comprises anecdotes of the highbrow and cultural leaders of the day—Swedenborg, Hume, Voltaire—and interweaves basic resources, starting from fabric within the Vatican records to oral histories of local american citizens, in a super chronicle of a pivotal 12 months in international history.

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Just as the European and Pacific wars in 1941–45 occupied separate spheres in every sense and rarely inter-penetrated, so the two different conflicts of 1756–63 were almost distinct wars. Frederick Great’s land-based, European campaigns against France, Russia and Austria were wholly different in aims and conception from the global conflict of France and Britain which formed the deep structure of the war. Accordingly, in this volume the ‘other’ war (Prussia against France, Russia and Austria) is mentioned only when it impinges on our primary concern or is directly relevant.

But perhaps Nature’s most dramatic manifestation of 1759 was the reappearance of Halley’s Comet, clearly visible in European skies in March. Although the philosophes – and Maupertuis in particular – had gone out of their way to ridicule those who believed that astral phenomena presaged events on Earth, many still believed this was the case. As in 1066 (the first clearly recorded year of Halley’s Comet) it was widely thought that catastrophe was just around the corner. Curiously, as in 1066, the superstitious were not wrong, for 1759 would shape British destinies more than any event since the Battle of Hastings.

Talking about me behind my back . . ’ For all his religious fervour and undoubted achievements, John Wesley was not a very pleasant man. Disingenuous, duplicitous and mendacious, he liked to rewrite his own life story in his letters and journals, so that he appeared omniscient, omnipotent and infallible. But occasionally Wesley was faced by phenomena so overpowering that he confronted the truth with a steady eye. He liked to litter his autobiography with ‘turning points’ and lights on the road to Damascus, but one defining moment of truth certainly occurred.

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