Study Guide:
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

Chapter One

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 why not?
3. What changes did this war bring to the Massachusetts Bay colony?

Chapter Two

1. What were the major differences between British soldiers and colonial (provincial) soldiers?

2. Why do these differences—particularly the fact that colonial soldiers were volunteers—mean so much to the author?

Part Two: Experience of War

Chapter Three

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 service?

Chapter Four

1. How does what Anderson characterizes as “intercultural contact” between colonial and regular soldiers shape colonial opinions of British regulars, and vice-versa?

2. How do you think each side would characterize itself?

Chapter Five

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

Chapter Six

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 colonial decisions?

3. Why was a contract or the idea of a contractual relationship so important to colonial soldiers and why does this matter?

Chapter Seven

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?

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