Posted by: Dirk | May 26, 2007

(Book review) The Long Fuse: How England Lost the American Colonies, 1760-1785

This book by Don Cook (1995) is an account of the political side of the US war for independence. It describes the political motivations of the British actors (mainly, the king). The book follows the timeline by switching back and forth between the US and the UK. The main story of the US features Benjamin Franklin and his political actions in London and later in Paris. The war itsself is described only briefly, which is OK. The book has 387 pages and makes a good reading. It is remarkable how flawed the English system of politics was and how incompetent people got into highest positions. This starts with the king George III. himself (p. 17):

Ideas of compromise, accomodation and attention to others’ views were not part of the king’s political nature. He was utterly disdainful of political opposition and resisted coming to any political “arrangement” with opponents. Consistency – which in his case translated into being unyielding and stubborn, sticking with his own opinion regardless – was one of the king’s strongest characteristics. It was also his major weakness, for it became a convenient way to avoid admitting mistakes and to refuse to reexamine a policy or problem. It served as a ready cover for a lack of vision and wisdom, a way for the king to appear strong while avoiding difficult judgments.

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