Fred Anderson, A People’s Army:
Massachusetts Soldiers and Society in the Seven Years’ War
1. What is the author’s reason for writing this book?
2. How does the author structure his argument?
3. What is the data set the author uses to support his argument? What are the
main advantages and disadvantages of using this type of data?
Part One: Context of War
1. What major powers were involved in the Seven Years’ War? What was each
power’s goal, and why was an important part of this war fought in the colonies?
2. Do you think this war could be characterized as the first world war? Why or
3. What changes did this war bring to the Massachusetts Bay colony?
1. What were the major differences between British soldiers and colonial
2. Why do these differences—particularly the fact that colonial soldiers were
volunteers—mean so much to the author?
Part Two: Experience of War
1. Why does the author point out that colonial soldiers saw the war as an
experience that was “worthy of special note” in their lives, prompting many of
them to begin wartime diaries?
2. What was the general structure of a colonial soldiers’ daily life? Why do you
think the author goes to such pains to detail this experience?
3. How did certain colonial viewpoints and values change as a result of wartime
1. How does what Anderson characterizes as “intercultural contact” between
colonial and regular soldiers shape colonial opinions of British regulars, and
2. How do you think each side would characterize itself?
1. What were some of the effects of combat on the lives of colonial soldiers?
2. What type of leader would colonials respect, and more importantly, obey? What
were the key qualities of such a leader?
Part Three: The Meaning of War
1. For what reasons did British regular soldiers believe that colonial
volunteers made poor soldiers?
2. What ramifications did this image have on later decisions made by the British
government? How could colonial beliefs about British regulars affect future
3. Why was a contract or the idea of a contractual relationship so important to
colonial soldiers and why does this matter?
1. What was the colonial conception of war and what role did religious beliefs
play in this set of ideas?
2. How would a religiously-based view of their participation in the Seven Years’
War help to raise a barrier between the colonists and the British?
Return to Syllabus