Synopses & Reviews
A truly continental history in both its geographic and political scope, The Elusive West and the Contest for Empire investigates eighteenth-century diplomacy involving North America and links geographic ignorance about the American West to Europeans' grand geopolitical designs. Breaking from scholars' traditional focus on the Atlantic world, Paul W. Mapp demonstrates the centrality of hitherto understudied western regions to early American history and shows that a Pacific focus is crucial to understanding the causes, course, and consequences of the Seven Years' War.
"Brilliantly calculating the costs of ignorance, Paul Mapp shows that what eighteenth-century European statesmen didn't know about the North American interior not only hurt the empires they served, but reshaped the world itself. The Elusive West utterly reorients our understanding of the period 1713-1763. It is a superb book."--Fred Anderson, University of Colorado, Boulder
"The Elusive West puts Paul Mapp at the forefront of an exciting generation of continental early Americanists. His dazzling research combines diplomacy and geography with political, military, and intellectual history. This trailblazing book gives weight to the vast American West, both real and imagined, during the vital half-century before 1763."--Peter H. Wood, Duke University, emeritus
"By examining geographic misunderstandings of North America, Mapp helps us see imperial successes and failures in an entirely new way. His insights are based on his own expansive knowledge of the long history of exploration and map-making by multiple empires, as each tried to capture the elusive nature of the continent's interior. An important and innovative book."--Kathleen DuVal, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
"Mapp displays a knowledge of European diplomacy and Borderlands history that will dazzle. . . . [He] places the elusive West back on the misinformed maps of the time and restores contingency to the course of empire."
-New Mexico Historical Review
"Deeply researched and beautifully written and illustrated book... is highly recommended."
-Tennessee Historical Quarterly
"Greatly expand[s] our understanding of European competition for control of North America . . . [an] encompassing and convincing argument."
-Northwest Ohio History
"An incredible work of history."
"One of the smartest pieces of scholarship on the eighteenth century published in the last decade. . . . A possible revolution in Seven Years War historiography."
"The book's analysis of nearly forty maps, its wide-ranging archival research, its original translations from French and Spanish sources (often rendered in the original language in the notes), and the extensive historiography in the footnotes all add up to a scholarly tour de force."
-Journal of Southern History
About the Author
Paul Mapp is associate professor of history at the College of William and Mary.