The Scratch of a Pen

  • by Colin G. Calloway
  • Narrated by Simon Vance
  • 6 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In February, 1763, Britain, Spain, and France signed the Treaty of Paris, ending the French and Indian War. In this one document, more American territory changed hands than in any treaty before or since. As the great historian Francis Parkman wrote, "half a continent...changed hands at the scratch of a pen."
As Colin Calloway reveals in this superb history, the Treaty set in motion a cascade of unexpected consequences. Indians and Europeans, settlers and frontiersmen, all struggled to adapt to new boundaries, new alignments, and new relationships. Britain now possessed a vast American empire stretching from Canada to the Florida Keys, yet the crushing costs of maintaining it would push its colonies toward rebellion. White settlers, free to pour into the West, clashed as never before with Indian tribes struggling to defend their way of life. In the Northwest, Pontiac's War brought racial conflict to its bitterest level so far. Whole ethnic groups migrated, sometimes across the continent: it was 1763 that saw many exiled settlers from Acadia in French Canada move again to Louisiana, where they would become Cajuns. Calloway unfurls this panoramic canvas with vibrant narrative skill, peopling his tale with memorable characters such as William Johnson, the Irish baronet who moved between Indian campfires and British barracks; Pontiac, the charismatic Ottawa chieftain whose warriors, for a time, chased the Europeans from Indian country; and James Murray, Britain's first governor in Quebec, who fought to protect the religious rights of his French Catholic subjects.
Most Americans know the significance of the Declaration of Independence or the Emancipation Proclamation, but not the Treaty of Paris. Yet 1763 was a year that shaped our history just as decisively as 1776 or 1862. This captivating book shows why.
The “Pivotal Moments in American History” series seeks to unite the old and the new history, combining the insights and techniques of recent historiography with the power of traditional narrative. Each title has a strong narrative arc with drama, irony, suspense, and – most importantly – great characters who embody the human dimension of historical events. The general editors of “Pivotal Moments” are not just historians; they are popular writers themselves, and, in two cases, Pulitzer Prize winners: David Hackett Fischer, James M. McPherson, and David Greenberg. We hope you like your American History served up with verve, wit, and an eye for the telling detail!


What the Critics Say

"Spellbinding....First-rate cultural history." (Publishers Weekly)
"Imbued with cultural erudition and diplomatic insight." (Booklist)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Poor account - there are better

If you want to read about the French and Indian War and the aftermath, skip this poor book and instead get "The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War (Unabridged)", also on audible and with the same narrator. This book is very poorly written and constructed, and treats the Indians as a bunch of cartoon "noble savages" rather than examining the different tribes as different people (who often fought each other). The first 45 minutes is just telling you (twice!) what the next 5.5 hours will hold (and then it doesn't deliver). No narritive structure, no compelling story, nothing worth listening to.
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- Brian

Lacked sparkle

I was disppointed in the author's style, rather than in the facts -- even understanding that it's a political history. Rather dry. I feel the author's work didn't live up to the scope of his project, and it failed to convey the depth of the impact of the treaty, although it includes many anncedotes and details. Read a bit like an undergraduate's thesis. But because of the details, I would recommend it for listeners who aren't also looking for style.
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- carolyn

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-17-2006
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio