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Comment: Condition: Very good condition., Binding: Trade Paperback. / Publisher: Three Rivers Press / Pub. Date: 24 September, 2002 Attributes: 472 pp / Stock#: 2047552 (FBA) * * *This item qualifies for FREE SHIPPING and Amazon Prime programs! * * *
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How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything in It Paperback – September 24, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (September 24, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609809997
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609809990
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (152 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"I am a Scotsman," Sir Walter Scott famously wrote, "therefore I had to fight my way into the world." So did any number of his compatriots over a period of just a few centuries, leaving their native country and traveling to every continent, carving out livelihoods and bringing ideas of freedom, self-reliance, moral discipline, and technological mastery with them, among other key assumptions of what historian Arthur Herman calls the "Scottish mentality."

It is only natural, Herman suggests, that a country that once ranked among Europe's poorest, if most literate, would prize the ideal of progress, measured "by how far we have come from where we once were." Forged in the Scottish Enlightenment, that ideal would inform the political theories of Francis Hutcheson, Adam Smith, and David Hume, and other Scottish thinkers who viewed "man as a product of history," and whose collective enterprise involved "nothing less than a massive reordering of human knowledge" (yielding, among other things, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, first published in Edinburgh in 1768, and the Declaration of Independence, published in Philadelphia just a few years later). On a more immediately practical front, but no less bound to that notion of progress, Scotland also fielded inventors, warriors, administrators, and diplomats such as Alexander Graham Bell, Andrew Carnegie, Simon MacTavish, and Charles James Napier, who created empires and great fortunes, extending Scotland's reach into every corner of the world.

Herman examines the lives and work of these and many more eminent Scots, capably defending his thesis and arguing, with both skill and good cheer, that the Scots "have by and large made the world a better place rather than a worse place." --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Focusing on the 18th and 19th centuries, Herman (coordinator of the Western Heritage Program at the Smithsonian and an assistant professor of history at George Mason University) has written a successful exploration of Scotland's disproportionately large impact on the modern world's intellectual and industrial development. When Scotland ratified the 1707 Act of Union, it was an economic backwater. Union gave Scotland access to England's global marketplace, triggering an economic and cultural boom "transform[ing] Scotland... into a modern society, and open[ing] up a cultural and social revolution." Herman credits Scotland's sudden transformation to its system of education, especially its leading universities at Edinburgh and Glasgow. The 18th-century Scottish Enlightenment, embodied by such brilliant thinkers as Francis Hutcheson, Adam Smith and David Hume, paved the way for Scottish and, Herman argues, global modernity. Hutcheson, the father of the Scottish Enlightenment, championed political liberty and the right of popular rebellion against tyranny. Smith, in his monumental Wealth of Nations, advocated liberty in the sphere of commerce and the global economy. Hume developed philosophical concepts that directly influenced James Madison and thus the U.S. Constitution. Herman elucidates at length the ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment and their worldwide impact. In 19th-century Britain, the Scottish Enlightenment, as popularized by Dugald Stewart, became the basis of classical liberalism. At the University of Glasgow, James Watt perfected the crucial technology of the Industrial Revolution: the steam engine. The "democratic" Scottish system of education found a home in the developing U.S. This is a worthwhile book for the general reader, although much of the material has been covered better elsewhere, most recently in T.M. Devine's magisterial The Scottish Nation: A History, 1700-2000 and Duncan A. Bruce's delightful The Mark of the Scots. (Nov.)Forecast: Clearly modeling this title on Thomas Cahill's How the Irish Saved Civilization, Crown may be hoping for comparable sales but probably won't achieve them.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I actually haven't read it yet, was into another book.
jean sinclair
How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything in It Being a Scot, I loved this book!
Pennant
I can however recommend the book to people of any nationality as a very interesting read.
Stanley D. Vyner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

80 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Dan Flynn on July 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The Scotland of William Wallace is not the Scotland that Arthur Herman celebrates in "How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything In It." To the contrary, Scotland's triumphant moment came four centuries after Braveheart's death, according to Herman, when Scotland welcomed--not threw off--the English. "In the span of a single generation it would transform Scotland from a Third World country into a modern society and open up a cultural and social revolution," Herman asserts. "Far from finding themselves slaves to the English, as opponents had prophesied, Scots experienced an unprecedented freedom and mobility." While its title intentionally embraces the Scottish tradition of boasting and exaggerating, "How the Scots Invented the Modern World" makes a strong case that the Scots, more than any other people, are responsible for the world after the Enlightenment.
What followed unification was not merely a Scottish renaissance, but a revolution in thought that changed the world. Adam Smith, David Hume, Robert Louis Stevenson, James Boswell, Andrew Carnegie, Alexander Graham Bell, Sir Walter Scott, and George Buchanan are among the Scots Herman discusses. Perfecting the steam engine, introducing inoculation to fight smallpox, inventing street lamps, devising the system of time zones, and discovering the simple method to prevent scurvy were all products of the Scottish imagination. "How the Scots Invented the Modern World" tells an untold story with wit and eloquence. This provocative book will gain the interest of Scots and non-Scots alike who are left to wonder how a small group living in the shadow of their southern neighbors had such a positive impact upon the world in which we live.
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181 of 198 people found the following review helpful By "michaeleve" on March 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Some of his more dour Scottish readers may very well tell Arthur Herman that he's mixing in a little bit of nonsense here. HOW THE SCOTS INVENTED THE MODERN WORLD is a glowing tribute to the Scots but he does go over the top a bit in giving them credit for more than they actually achieved, and also more than the Scot's ever claimed for themselves.
This book however is a serious study of Scotland in the 18th century, particularly the period following the Act of Union with England in 1707 known as the Scottish Enlightenment. THE SCOTTISH ENLIGHTENMENT is actually the book's UK title but that doesn't mean too much to us here. Far more eye-catching and interesting sounding is the title used for the US edition. This however creates a problem for the author. Its pop-culture sounding theme gives the impression that we will be engaged in competitive national chest-beating such as HOW THE IRISH SAVED CIVILIZATION and comparing lists of who accomplished what as in SPREZZATURA: 50 WAYS ITALIAN GENIUS SHAPED THE WORLD. Here the Scots supposedly not only CREATED OUR WORLD [but also] EVERYTHING IN IT!. Such claims don't allow the book to be taken very seriously but that is exactly how Herman wants it to be read. It's therefore a credit to him that his presentation of the facts and his arguments are good enough to allow him to make his point.
If we were to compile lists, one that would show Scottish prowess would be that of great thinkers of the 18th century. Start with Adam Smith, David Hume, Walter Scott, James Watt and Lord Kelvin. There is also John Stuart Mill. Those who were less thinkers and inventors but doers were David Livingstone and Scottish-Americans such as John Muir and Andrew Carnegie. It is the presence of transplanted Scots like Carnegie which underlies one of the authors main points.
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83 of 89 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book may do for the Scots what Thomas Cahill did for the Irish when he wrote "How the Irish Saved Western Civilization." It's a highly readable and impressive piece of scholarship on an aspect of history that's been overlooked or ignored: How much our modern culture owes to the people of Scotland. It neatly manages to celebrate the Scottish achievement without veering into any kind of ethnic chauvinism. The author, incidentally, is not Scottish--he's merely a historian and a storyteller, telling us something we probably haven't heard before. People of Scottish ancestry will love this book, but so will anyone who enjoys learning about how we became who we are.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Harold McFarland HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on August 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Arthur Herman writes a convincing portrayal of the Scottish people as coming from a financially poor but intellectually rich country. In the early 1700s the Scottish Enlightenment began and with it came a greatly enhanced understanding of our world and breakthrough philosopies in economies, physics and many other sciences. From the economic principles of Adam Smith, and philosophies of David Hume to the inventions of Alexander Graham Bell and financial empires of Andrew Carnegie there seems to be no area of modern life where the Scottish influence was not felt. In relation to other countries the people and contributions presented in this book show a disporporationately larger contribution by the Scottish society to our modern life than any other single nationality.
One of the significant contributions of the Scottish Enlightenment to the United States was the teachings of Hutcheson that oppressed people have a right to rise up against their oppressor and establish a free society. In addition, many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were either Scottish or descendents of Scots. In many ways the writings of the Scottish Enlightenment period formed the underpinnings for the basic philosophies of the United States.
Herman goes on with example after example of how the Scottish Enlightenment and the concepts born there significantly influenced the modern world. A thoroughly fascinating read that kept surprising me with the magnitude of the contributions of the Scottish people to our modern world, I highly recommend it to anyone interested in history.
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