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To the Ends of the Earth: Scotland's Global Diaspora, 1750-2010 Hardcover – October 25, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for T. M. Devine's The Scottish Nation, 1700-2007:
"One of the most significant Scottish books of the century." --The Herald


In this follow-up to The Scottish Nation: 1700–2007, University of Edinburgh history professor Devine casts his net more widely to describe Scottish emigration throughout the world. A poor land in the 18th century, Scotland lagged behind England's Industrial Revolution. By 1850 it had caught up, but Scots continued to leave in record numbers. They made an early, bad impression in revolutionary America because most were loyalists, but this was soon replaced by the ongoing stereotype of the thrifty, superachieving Scotsman. There was no shortage of failure and bad behavior, but Devine admits that, wherever they settled, Scots were overrepresented among business, education, military leadership, and missionary work. He explores the source of that success in chapters on Scottish demographics, religion, and economics, devoting as much space to his nation's culture as its emigrants. Although not an academic study, the book contains more statistics, tables, and critical arguments than the average history buff would want, but readers willing to skim will enjoy an enlightening experience. 10 maps. (Oct.)


Devine (Sir William Fraser Professor of Scottish History & Palaeography, Univ. of Edinburgh; The Scottish Nation, 1700 2007) rounds out his trilogy of authoritative works on Scottish history with this seminal volume on the dispersion of the Scots to other lands throughout history. Devine insightfully addresses the impetus behind the large-scale Scottish emigration as well as the experiences of émigrés in their new lands over the past 250 years. Covering Scottish engagement in the colonial slave and tobacco trades; the movement of impoverished Highland Scots during famine in the 1850s; fortune-seeking Scots in the British Empire and the American colonies; and Scottish missionary efforts in India and Africa, Devine offers a sweeping critical examination of this topic, which he admits is in its infancy as an area of academic study. He succeeds in addressing a broad span of time and geography while avoiding both triumphalism and exceptionalism on behalf of the Scots. VERDICT A meticulously researched and thoroughly documented academic volume that will be welcomed by scholars and others with a keen interest in Scottish history.—Elizabeth L. Winter, Georgia Inst. of Technology Lib., Atlanta


Devine (Univ. of Edinburgh, Scotland) concludes his masterful trilogy of Scottish history, following his critically acclaimed The Scottish Nation, 1700-2000 (1999) and Scotland's Empire, 1600-1815 (CH, Apr'05, 42-4853) with this volume that tells the tale of the thousands of Scots who migrated throughout the British Empire. Devine delves behind the myths and notions of nationalistic pride while examining the distinctive contribution of Scots to the development of the British Empire from North America to the smallest Caribbean islands. The author pays particular attention to the role of Scottish traders, missionaries, and soldiers who were greatly overrepresented as a percentage of the population throughout the British Empire. Equally of interest is Devine's examination of the impact of the Scottish diaspora and newly globalizing economy of Scotland itself, deftly illustrating the two-way nature of the linkages and import of the overseas Scots to the development of Scotland. The author's broad grasp and meticulous research of the topic has produced another first-rate book that cements his reputation as the preeminent historian in the field of modern Scottish history. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Most levels/libraries. -- S. M. McDonald, Bentley University


Two years ago more than 47,000 people from all over the world journeyed to Scotland to celebrate their Caledonian lineage in an event called the “Homecoming”. Many of them had only recently discovered an interest in their origins and some, it seems safe to say, held peculiar ideas about where their forebears had come from and what impelled them to leave. Many people of Scottish descent, especially in America, assume that their ancestors hailed from the Highlands; that having been dispossessed of their land, they were forcibly driven into exile; and that after the Jacobites’ defeat at the battle of Culloden in 1746, if not before, these brave, egalitarian and freedom-loving people were victims of the oppressive English.

The truth is more complicated than that, as T.M. Devine, a professor of history at the University of Edinburgh, is at pains to show. The Scots have been emigrants and adventurers since at least the 13th century. At first most went to northern Europe as mercenary soldiers or traders, setting up commercial networks from Rotterdam to Königsberg and penetrating far into Poland. Later they settled in large numbers in Ulster. By the beginning of the 18th century life expectancy was rising among landed Scots but second and third sons had little hope of becoming farmers.

For many of these, the Act of Union with England in 1707 came as a blessing. It opened to Scottish merchants the protected markets of the English colonies and provided countless jobs for soldiers, contractors and bureaucrats in an expanding empire. For Presbyterians, the union also had the political advantage of providing a defence against the possibility of an unwelcome Catholic Stuart restoration.

Scots, already well established in the Caribbean, were soon all over British North America and, through the East India Company, much of Asia. Scots were prominent in trading firms like Jardine Matheson and the North West Company; in 1799, 78% of the overseas employees of the Hudson’s Bay Company, whose domain encompassed more than 10% of the Earth’s land surface, came from the islands of Orkney alone. Scottish emigrants flourished not only throughout the empire but also in England, other parts of Europe, and even South America and Japan.

Many of those who stayed at home also prospered. By the 1770s Glasgow had secured most of the British tobacco trade. It later became a centre for sugar, engineering and shipbuilding. All over the country fortunes were being made in textiles or related products. In Dundee the product was jute, in Paisley it was thread, in Kirkcaldy carpets. Scotland also became a leader in railways, chemicals, locomotives and then finance. No wonder that by the 1850s it was one of the most urbanised and industrialised countries in the world.

Why then did it send so many of its citizens abroad? The answer varies according to time and place of origin. Emigrants came from all over the country. Some, particularly in the Highlands and islands, were certainly poor, even destitute, and the clearances in the late 1840s and early 1850s were undeniably brutal and often coercive. Most of those who left, however, were not utterly impoverished; many had skills and qualifications. Some were driven by martial spirit, missionary zeal or imperial fervour. The empire, Mr Devine points out, was an emphatically British venture in which the Scots saw themselves as equal partners with the English, giving them self-respect as well as prosperity.

The main motive, though, was the desire for a better life and more opportunities. In this, and in their readiness to work hard, Scots were much like emigrants elsewhere. Similarly, like other emigrants, they persecuted native Americans, exterminated aborigines, stole land, defrauded their partners, exploited their workers and happily traded in opium. They did not trade in slaves, not much anyway. But Scotland’s economy in the 18th century was inextricably intertwined with slavery through the sugar, tobacco and cotton industries, plus the civil and military structures that sustained them. Scots were pretty average in other ways, too. They made bad investments, could be thoroughly prejudiced (often about each other) and, it should be remembered, frequently returned home as failures (over 40% in the 1890s).

Yet in some ways they were untypical. They were often educated, which helped to account for the high numbers of lawyers, doctors and engineers among them. This in turn may explain why they were so influential in the lands where they settled. They were also militaristic, religious (David Livingstone, still revered in Africa, became a Victorian saint), loyal (notably to the Crown in the American colonies) and liberal (reflecting the Scottish Enlightenment). Above all, they were numerous, at times proportionately more so than any European nation except the Irish and perhaps the Norwegians.

Mr Devine explains all this with a masterly breadth of knowledge and an admirable absence of hyperbole. Unfortunately, his editors do not match his skills. The inclusion of so much analysis of Scottish topics and Scotland’s engagement with the world shortchanges those expecting a comprehensive book about the emigrants themselves. Moreover, the reader may weary of so many repetitive statistics. Most could have been incorporated in a single chart or map showing how many Scots left when, where they came from and where they went. All these blemishes, however, count as little compared with the work’s great virtue of helping to rescue Scottish history from the romanticised, self-pitying, tartan tosh that has captured the popular imagination of so many Scots both at home and abroad.

About the Author

T. M. DEVINE is the author of the bestselling The Scottish Nation, 1700-2007. He is the Sir William Fraser Professor of Scottish History and Palaeography at the University of Edinburgh and director of the Scottish Centre of Diaspora Studies. He is a fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 2001, Devine was awarded the Royal Gold Medal, Scotland's supreme academic accolade. The author lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Books; 1st edition (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1588343170
  • ISBN-13: 978-1588343178
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,345,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By James Denny on January 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"To the Ends of the Earth" by Professor T.M. Devine addresses issues as to why over the past three centuries, so many Scots ended up leaving Scotland for all corners of the globe. Devine casts Scots as one of the truly great emigrant peoples, along with the Irish and Jews. For centuries, Scots have left kith, kin and country for new places at high rates in proportion to their population. There are 40 million people of Scottish descent in the world today, a staggering number for a country of just 5 million.

Devine makes a well-supported case that most Scottish emigrants left for betterment and opportunity, i.e., "pull" reasons, rather than for classic "push" reasons. For most, there were better opportunties abroad than at home for someone with drive, education and skill.

This revelation contradicts a widely-held view that the Highland clearances which forced people out were the most common type of emigrant Scots. In fact, just the opposite is true. While crofting Highlanders and the peoples of the Western Islands were genuine forced migrants, the great majority of emigree Scots (since unity with England in 1707) have been Lowlanders, a disparate mix of villagers, small town and urban dwellers.

Devine puts forth a sweeping economic and social history of Scotland. He makes the case that Scots have been comparatively literate, better educated and more highly skilled than emigrants from most other countries, England included. This resulted in disproportionate numbers of engineers, artisans, skilled mechanics, doctors, ministers, lawyers and civil servants. In the 18th, 19th and throughout most of the 20th century, these Scots were in demand. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Scots became practitioners of Empire in proportion way beyond expected numbers.
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0 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Kate on March 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First I have to to say that I have no issue with the content of this book -- this review is in regards to the kindle edition of this book only. I have had it erase all of my highlighting and notes repeatedly while I am trying to read it. I have tried deleting it and reloading it several times. That would generally work, except that a couple of times I lost the notes from my most recent reading period. It did it again today and while it appears to have been re-downloaded I cannot get it to actually allow me to look at the book. It keeps bouncing me back to the carousel. I AM COMPLETELY FRUSTRATED! I don't want to pay for a paper copy of the book, but I need it for a class so I may have to.
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