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King William's War: The First Contest for North America, 1689–1697, by Michael Laramie

Yardley, Pa.: Westholme Publishing, 2017. Pp. xiv, 310. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $35.00. ISBN: 1594162883.

The First French-and-Indian Wars

Independent scholar Laramie, who has written widely on North America’s colonial conflicts, has produced an outstanding treatment of the very complex interactions among the Native American nations and European – English, French, Dutch, Swedish – settlers in a broad swathe of the continent from the Atlantic to the Plains on both sides of the St. Lawrence-Great Lakes corridor during the seventeenth century.

Despite his title, Laramie devotes nearly a third of the book to events before King William’s War (1688-1697) – one of the first truly global conflicts – to help the reader understand how the greater war came to pass. As the colonial powers consolidated their holdings, the Dutch swept up the Swedish settlements, only to be ousted by the English. Meanwhile, there had already been a number of clashes between French and English settlements in North America, involving Indians on both sided. Indeed, Laramie offers equal coverage to the Native American side of the events, demonstrating that these peoples had a rather sophisticated grasp of power politics, strategy, operations, and even logistics, which made them worthy opponents – or allies – of the European settlers.

Laramie’s treatment of campaigns, which usually involved forces of some hundreds of men and were often conducted over hundreds of miles, are detailed. He discusses each side’s strengths and weaknesses, pays particular attention to the role of logistics and the influence of events in Europe on the war in America. He also gives us looks at a number of interesting people, almost all of whom, whether Indian or European, are now largely forgotten.

King William's War is an important read for anyone with an interest in early American history.

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Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   


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