Fred Anderson, The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War. New York: Viking, 2005.
The French and Indian War began in 1754, when a 22-year old Virginian militia officer led a small detachment from his regiment into a lopsided 15-minute engagement with French troops in southeastern Pennsylvania. The officer was George Washington.
Fred Anderson's book, published as a companion volume to a PBS series, is a first-rate introduction to the French and Indian War. Anderson is excellent at revealing the motivations and understanding the actions on all three sides of the conflict: the French, the British, and the Indian. His writing is clear and engaging, and the text is well-illustrated. This has to be the best general introduction to the French and Indian War for the general reader. But for readers who want a more in-depth study of the war, with footnotes, Anderson is also the author of the magisterial Crucible of War: The Seven Years War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000).