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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

French Army in North America

For our summer holiday, in September last year my partner and I went to Bodrum in Turkey for a good poolside lounge and piggy eat-out. One of the books I read was a novel by Bernard Cornwell, "The Fort". Very good holiday read, a fictional tale of the American War of Independence/American Revolutionary War, but it did get me thinking.

I know very little about the conflicts in North America during the second half of the 18th century. I know the vague details, I know who won and lost, I've seen a few films, "Last of the Mohicans", "Revolution", "North West Passage" and such like. The very occasional BBC documentary. I don't remember looking at this in school. So the Cornwell book piqued my interest and, as my interest is in the French Military, what role did the French play in these conflicts.

I bought and read some books. First, "Empires Collide", edited by Ruth Sheppard and published by Osprey. A great book to start with, gave me a lot of info on the French & Indian War, dates, locations and so on, plus a good feeling for the geography of the action.

Then, purely by chance, in November I was in London on Marlebone High Street, walking past the Oxfam charity shop when I saw this biography of George Washington in the window so I bought it. I knew the name of Stephen Brumwell but not his work, nor did I know this was his latest book which had been very well received. I read it, thoroughly enjoyed it, again learnt a huge amount about dates and events and geography.

I remembered I had bought René Chartrand's series of books on the army of Louis XV which includes this volume. So one more book read.

Whilst doing all this reading I was watching E-bay to see what I could buy on the cheap and found two books on James Wolfe and his forces.

The first is a very slender biography by Richard Garrett, an old book but quite good if limited by its size. The second a very good book from the very dependable Osprey Publishing "Wolfe's Army" by Robin May and Gerry Embleton, and although bought from E-bay it was a new book.

My two latest acquisitions I have not read yet as I am sidetracked onto Napoleon Bonaparte and onto British Fortifications. Both acquisitions are from Osprey Publishing.

I had to pay a serious price for "Montcalm's Army", this seems to be a rare volume, very much in demand, it would be just my luck for Osprey to republish it at less than half what I have paid for it.

A mistake I have made was to purchase this:

I read the first fifty pages and could not take anymore. Definitely not for me.

Stephen Brumwell was very good so I have ordered his biog of James Wolfe from my favourite tax-dodger, Amazon UK, but they are having some difficulty getting a new stock, hopefully I can have this for this coming September's holiday. I would like a biography of Moltcalm but there does not seem to be one available in English (maybe I should write one), I loved Patrice Chéreau's acting the part of Montcalm in the 1992 "Last of the Mohicans", I love his diction and the way he pronounces the name Monroe, Scottish with a French accent.

Until now I have had no desire to visit North America except maybe to see a few buildings (less is more) but all this history is making me think, well, maybe, a tour of the Canadian forts, a couple of USA cities and some battlefields, 2015 or maybe 2016. Yes.

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