Among the many upheavals in North America caused by the French and Indian War was a commonplace practice that affected the lives of thousands of men, women, and children: being taken captive by rival forces. Most previous studies of captivity in early America are content to generalize from a small selection of sources, often centuries apart. In Setting All the Captives Free, Ian Steele presents, from a mountain of data, the differences rather than generalities as well as how these differences show the variety of circumstances that affected captives’ experiences. The product of a herculean effort to identify and analyze the captives taken on the Allegheny frontier during the era of the French and Indian War, Setting All the Captives Free is the most complete study of this topic. Steele explores genuine, doctored, and fictitious accounts in an innovative challenge to many prevailing assumptions and arguments, revealing that Indians demonstrated humanity and compassion by continuing to take numerous captives when their opponents took none, by adopting and converting captives into kin during the war, and by returning captives even though doing so was a humiliating act that betrayed their societies' values. A fascinating and comprehensive work by an acclaimed scholar, Setting All the Captives Free takes the study of the French and Indian War in America to an exciting new level.
Ian K. Steele is professor emeritus and adjunct research professor of history at the University of Western Ontario. His previous books include Politics of Colonial Policy, Guerillas and Grenadiers, The English Atlantic, Betrayals, and Warpaths. A festschrift in his honor, English Atlantics Revisited, edited by Nancy L. Rhoden, is available from McGill-Queen's University Press.
“Setting All the Captives Free is recommended highly to anyone who admires nuanced, impeccably crafted, and exhaustively researched work on a subject and period in North American history that demands to be understood with all of its subtleties intact.” Da
“Unlike New England captives, the nearly three thousand captives taken in Allegheny warfare have received little attention by scholars. In Setting All the Captives Free, Steele places captives at the center of his study of warfare in the Allegheny country
"Setting All the Captives Free is filled with insights and conclusions that enlighten readers and challenge conventional wisdom. It is destined to be the definitive study on captivity in early American history for years to come." Timothy J. Shannon, Department of History, Gettysburg College