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Conquered into Liberty: Two Centuries of Battles along the Great Warpath that Made the American Way of War, by Eliot A. Cohen

New York: The Free Press, 2011. Pp. xx, 402. Illus., maps, index. $30.00. ISBN: 978-0-7432-4990-4 .

Military analyst Eliot Cohen, author of Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime, Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy of Failure in War, and a number of other works, looks at American military history from an offbeat perspective -- the long war with Canada that began in 1690, when the French launched their first terrorist attacks on the English colonies, and continued through the Civil War, when British Canada provided a base for Southern raiders. 

Cohen argues that the struggle shaped American military institutions and attitudes.  The colonists responded to the first French and Indian terror raids, for example, by urging a direct attack on the enemy’s home base -- a goal they finally achieved when the British took Quebec in 1759, during the Seven Years’ War.  In that final struggle with the French, Robert Rogers turned farm boys into wilderness fighters – “rangers” -- by publishing specific rules for tactics and individual behavior, in the same way later American armies trained masses of civilians.  Cohen may exaggerate the influence of these events, but his ideas are worth pondering and they’re embodied in a well written narrative that includes surprising looks at such notables as George Washington and Ethan Allen.  

Conquered into Liberty is a good read for anyone interested in a fresh perspective on the particular wars it covers and the development of the American military tradition.


Tom Purdom is the author of several science fiction novels, a long list of short stories and novelettes, and numerous magazine articles, having for twenty years written on classical music and the arts.  He has an abiding interest in the Seven Years War that goes back to the 1970s, when he began wargaming with miniature figures in that period.  Tom has a website at

Reviewer: Tom Purdom    

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