Book Review presents reviews of recent publications on Pennsylvania subjects by noted scholars, historians and journalists.

To Risk It All
General Forbes, the Capture of Fort Duquesne, and the Course of Empire in the Ohio Country
by Michael N. McConnell
University of Pittsburgh Press, 399 pp., hardcover $35

Michael McConnell restores urgency to the Seven Years’ War in To Risk It All. Eleven chapters explore, as the author notes, “How he [Brig. Gen. John Forbes] succeeded, and what his success meant to the subsequent history of the mid-Atlantic colonies, native inhabitants of the Ohio Country, and the empire he represented.”

McConnell’s narrative fits into dialogue of the global Seven Years’ War begun by Fred Anderson, Ian Steele, David Preston, Tim Shannon and others. McConnell characterizes the British North American theatre in “polyglot provinces.” Quakers in Pennsylvania, Anglo-Dutch in New York, and free and enslaved artisans of African descent stand alongside diverse British Indigenous allies.

Moreover, McConnell contributes to an institutional history of the British officer corps. Readers encounter Maj. James Grant, Capt. Harry Gordon, Lt. Col. Henry Bouquet and Lt. Col. Sir John St. Clair beside General Forbes. McConnell emphasizes how 1758 witnessed logistical nightmares for French and British creoles, the European officers who commanded them, and Indigenous leaders who placed their future on either side of the fray. This reframes views of British victory by 1763.

To Risk It All orients readers to the importance of Indigenous partners to the British campaign. Tsalagi (Cherokee) headman Attakullakulla and Onödowá’ga:’ (Seneca) war captain Tanaghrisson emerge as proven, if scorned, military strategists. Lenni-Lenape (Delaware) leaders Teedyuscung and Pisquetomen appear as seasoned, if thwarted, diplomats at the 1758 Treaty of Easton. Even more exploration of this complexity is warranted, including British promises broken to Haudenosaunee, Tsalagi and Lenape partners. Further treatment of the disastrous Grant campaign and the Anglo-Cherokee War is needed.

Forbes’ 1758 victory at Fort Duquesne came dearly. Ultimately, McConnell discloses a trans-Appalachian west with formerly allied Tsalagi at war with the British, Pennsylvanian colonists disgruntled with British officers, Great Lakes nations negotiating life without the French, and General Forbes himself dead from illness. Beyond a celebratory origin story for the city of Pittsburgh, this work challenges readers to reconsider the Seven Years’ War from North Carolina to Quebec then back to Pennsylvania like never before.

Eugene R.H. Tesdahl
University of Wisconsin-Platteville