The Battle that Made Great Britain Great ... The Battle of the Plains of Abraham?

Roundup: Talking About History

Randy Boswell, in the Gazette (Montreal) (May 22, 2004):

Canada was the Ground Zero of modern history, says a controversial new book by a bestselling British author.

Historian Frank McLynn says the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, long understood by Canadians to be the pivotal event in this country's past, should really be seen as the turning point in the entire history of the modern world.

The victory over the French not only marked the birth of the British Empire and ensured the global dominance of the English language but also made possible the existence of the United States, he claims.

In 1759: The Year Britain Became Master of the World, McLynn urges scholars to reconsider the collective significance of a series of resounding British victories over France in Europe, India, the West Indies and North America.

He places General James Wolfe's Sept. 13, 1759 triumph at Quebec City over the Marquis de Montcalm at the centre of his narrative.

The victory helped eliminate future military threats from the French in North America and finally allowed Britain's restless Thirteen Colonies to begin imagining and plotting their independence.

"The taking of Quebec was probably the most spectacular success in the year of victories and certainly had the most momentous consequences," writes McLynn, whose other works have included epic treatments of Napoleon and the British exploration of Africa.

"The summing up is simple; no 1759, no victory in the Seven Years War, no victory in North America, no expansionist British Empire, no break-away colonies and therefore, conceivably, no United States of America."

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