Annual Booklist 2017-2018 : George Yagi

Dr Yagi is Adjunct Professor of History at the University of the Pacific and author of The Struggle for North America, 1754-1758, shortlisted for the 2016 SAHR Templer Medal.

Fred Anderson, A People’s Army: Massachusetts Soldiers and Society in the Seven Years’ War (Omohundro Institute and University of North Carolina Press, 1996). During the initial stages of the Seven Years’ War, Britain dispatched a very small regular army to North America to fight the French and Native Americans, and relied heavily upon colonial auxiliary forces to augment their fighting capabilities. In the case of New England, Anderson’s book examines the mobilisation of Massachusetts to support Britain’s war effort. The study is divided into three parts which include the contexts of war, experience of war, and the meaning of war. It also focuses primarily on the lives of ordinary citizen soldiers rather than campaigns and battles.

Jeremy Black, Britain As A Military Power (UCL Press, 1999). A comprehensive study of Britain’s military history during the long eighteenth century, Black offers insight into numerous conflicts from Marlborough’s battles during the War of the Spanish Succession to struggles against the vast armies of Napoleon. The book offers a continuous account of British forces, offering an explanation as to why Britain rose to become the dominant military power of the time.

Stephen Brumwell, Redcoats: The British Soldier and War in the Americas, 1755-1763 (Cambridge University Press, 2002). Brumwell’s work is a must read for all those interested in the history of the British Army. The book is an in-depth examination of the experience of British soldiers in North America during the Seven Years’ War and seeks to explain how it was to serve in the “American Army” of King George II. Topics covered in this study include recruitment methods, warfare in the wilderness, and cross cultural relationships between British soldiers and Native Americans.

Eric Lomax, The Railway Man: A True Story of War, Remembrance, and Forgiveness (Ballantine Books, 1995). One of my favourite firsthand accounts from the Second World War, the Railway Man is a remarkable story of human suffering and forgiveness. An autobiography, it focuses on the life of Lieutenant Eric Lomax and his experience as a prisoner of war sent to work on the Burma-Siam Railway. A train enthusiast, Lomax drew a map of the railroad, which was eventually discovered by his captors. Believing the map was created to assist an Allied attack, Lomax is subjected to horrific torture. Years after the war is over, he meets one of his past tormentors face to face nearby the River Kwai Bridge, and rather than seek revenge, Lomax forgives him. An important piece of British Army history, Lomax also leaves us with poignant words on the remembrance of war, “sometime the hating has to stop.”

George A. Rawlyk, Yankees at Louisbourg: The Story of the First Siege, 1745 (Breton Books, 1999). King George’s War is a subject that often receives little attention, and is viewed as a minor colonial war. However, as the War of the Austrian Succession drew to a close, the only major territorial victory the British could claim was the capture of the Fortress of Louisbourg, which was carried out by an army of amateurs from New England. Rawlyk’s book is the most comprehensive study of King George’s New England Army, and gives a detailed account of its planning, organisation, and the military operations it undertook at Louisbourg.

As for a book I would like to see in the future, it would be very interesting if a comprehensive work appeared that examines the role of Jacobites who fought for King George III during the American Revolution.