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A Dance Called America: The Scottish Highlands, the United States and Canada Paperback – September 1, 1995

12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A book that should be read by everyone of Highland descent and by any Scot who has more than a passing interest in his or her sense of nationality" The Herald "The definitive story of the Highland impact on the New World" Scotland Magazine "Meticulously researched, these wonderfully evocative studies of bygone eras make fascinating reading for anyone with an interest in Scotland's evolution" Daily Record --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

James Hunter is the author of a number of books on Scottish history, including Culloden and the Last Clansman, Scottish Exodus and Skye: The Island. He lives in Beauly, Inverness-shire. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing (September 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1851588078
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851588077
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #563,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
Everyone has heard about the potato famines that drove the many Irish immigrants to North America, but what about their celtic sisters and brothers in Scotland? Was it the clearances or was it the disasterous battle at Culloden in 1745? Hunter's book looks not only at the myriad of issues that emptied the highlands, but also at how the Scotts got to North American and what happened to them when they got there. Hunter explains not only the economic factors in Scotland, but also the brutal conditions that many Scots endured during their passage to Canada and the United States. He looks at the political issues in Scotland, England, Canada and the United State. He examines how they survived and why what they did often depended on when and where they landed. Early emmigrants tended to have money whereas those coming later had next to nothing. Hunter tells you about the businesses that they started, the communities that they built and the leadership that they provide even today to new continent. A Dance Called America opens your eyes to a group of people rarely considered when examining the settlement of North America. While anyone interested in history will enjoy this book, those of Scottish descent will find it particularly interesting
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 27, 1997
Format: Paperback
Anyone who is a Scot or has a Scottish background will be fascinated by this book. Meticulously researched, it describes the harrowing lives of the many Scots folks who emigrated to the US and Canada during the 18th and 19th centuries.
We were shocked to learn that some Scottish emigrants had become slave owners, while others with few belongings and no means were left stranded on remote points of the Canadian coastline in the middle of winter.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Bruce MacMillan on June 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
James Hunter has written a great book on Scottish immigration to North America. He strikes a very good balance between Scottish events that determined why people emmigrated, and the different experiences of these gaelic pioneers.
Different periods of emmigration and settlements of Scottish immigrants are covered. The research is very detailed but thankfully doesn't result in statistics which will bore you. Rather Hunter concentrates on the actual experiences of notable settlers and explorers. It's a descriptive account that brings the period alive. I found the description of the quarantine station at Grosse Ile and Cholera Bay to be particularly moving.
This book is more than a chronicle of the hardships, challenges and frustrations that these early settlers had to endure. It reminds us of their achievements and significant contributions. You can appreciate them that much more knowing of their suffererings in a tough, new land.
I'd be giving this book five stars, but I would have liked some maps and I found the chapter on Craigellachie to wander a little bit. But this is still a wonderful book. If you're interested in Scotland or have any Scottish ancestors, add this book to your collection.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By "petenlin" on December 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
Some books like some movies stay with you. I learned so much about what happened in Scotland from Hunter's very interesting accounts. This book has made the kind of impression that compells me to reread it and loan it to others. It's a keeper in my bookcase now for reference. Now I am in the process of visiting those places both in Scotland and in America where these displaced peoples were sent.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By WILLIAM H FULLER on June 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
Perchance I was daydreaming in my world and American history classes when this was covered, but I graduated not only from high school but also from university with absolutely no appreciation of the full impact that Scottish Highlanders made on both future North American nations in the 18th and 19th centuries. Moreover, I had no knowledge whatsoever of the plight of the Highlanders in their own country nor of their eviction from their crofts, or rented lands, by the landowners, a profit-driven action that led to the Highlanders' emigration to the New World in the first place. Hunter's account goes far to rectify these omissions in my understanding of this facet of history.

Among a few of the more intriguing facts to be encountered in this book are that the Highlanders, following their defeat by the English, largely joined the armies of their conquerors and were soon deployed in defense of English interests. Meanwhile, back in Scotland, they were being dispossessed of their livelihoods by landowners who saw greater profit in large-scale sheep ranching than in the rents of their former tenants. The latter action led to migration of displaced Scots to New World colonies, where they remained loyal Tories even as their fellow New World neighbors decided to rebel and form a new nation independent of the English. As it became clear that they were on the losing side, many moved north to join those who had settled on the lands of what would later become Canada.

Some of those Highlanders who had gone directly to the northlands had done so as soldiers for the English and had defeated the French who had already claimed Quebec as their own (though a longer view of history shows us that French influence remained predominant in Quebec!).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Shawn Marchinek on June 5, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A dance called America by James Hunter is a gem to read. This is the story of the highlanders in America after the clearances. So much of Scottish Highland history books ends with the 1745 and clearances. But after the glens were cleared, where did the people go.

Mr. Hunter answers this question and more. In this book, he explains the highland impact on the North American continent. He first tells of the Darien settlement in Georgia and Cape Fear in North Carolina. As the Clan Chiefs focused less on leading the clans and more on renting their land to sheep herders, the Tacksmen or gentry of the clans began to lead many of the displaced people to found these new colonies in the Americas.

He goes on to explain the settlement of the Mohawk Valley in New York State and the continued migration north after the American Revolution to Glengarry in Ontario.

As the clearances continued, clansmen moved to Cape Breton Island and we learn about the involvement of Thomas Douglas, Earl of Selkirk in the new colonies. He strove to help poor highlanders struggling in the coastal crofts of Scotland to settle in his new Red River Colony in what is today modern Manitoba, Canada.

As Mr. Hunter explains, these Highlanders' success and failures in America, we see the rise of the North West Fur Company and the Hudson Bay Company, which were rivals and dominated by Scots. As these two giants merge into one, we see a Canadian, John A. Macdonald, rise and work with other Highlanders and Canadian Americans of Scottish roots to help forge the lands including Red River, Glengarry, and Cape Breton Island into the nation of Canada.
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