- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 18 hours and 26 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Recorded Books
- Audible.com Release Date: August 22, 2016
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01KOTEUKM
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
How the Scots Invented the Modern World Audiobook – Unabridged
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Top customer reviews
I wouldn't dream of spoiling the surprises for anyone who has not read this yet, other than to say that no-one who is a student of American history can afford not to read this book. The depth of research and the unvarnished, warts-and-all approach Mr. Herman takes to his subject matter make it a must read.
In 1707, the Union Act united the kingdoms of Scotland and England. Prior to this, the two antagonists living on opposite sides of Hadrian's Wall wanted nothing to do with each other. Scotland consisted mainly of primitive clans living in the highlands and slightly more advanced lowlanders living mainly in the cities of Glascow and Edinburgh. The parliament in Edinburgh was controlled by groups of noblemen who in turn were dominated by the rigid and inquisitorial Presbyterian Kirk (church) of Scotland.
After 1707, there were two developments that were crucial to Scotland's rise to modernity. The first was the opening up to the economic free trade zone of the British Empire. At first the Scottish fretted about either being swallowed-up by their world-class English competitors or becoming pauperized like the Irish. Their fears were misplaced, neither happened. Instead, the Scottish became, Herman argues, the most significant player in the the empire's economic and intellectual sphere.
The second big reason for Scottish success was their public education system - the first in Europe. This was the work of the Presbyterian Kirk. They maintained that political power, ordained by God, was vested in the people, not the monarchy or the church. The Kirk believed that all people should be able to read the Bible, and as a consequence they achieved a 75% literacy rate - unprecedented in 1750.
Near-universal education produced in this tiny country a disproportionate number of world-class thinkers - David Hume, Francis Hutchison, and Adam Smith, to name a few. They transformed the fields of philosophy, history, economics, education, commerce, architecture, and many more. Due to their mutual animosity toward the English, the Scots found inspiration from the great thinkers of the French Enlightenment, and vice versa. It was Voltaire who said that, "We look to Scotland for all of our ideas of civilization."
As for Herman's claim that the Scots invented the modern world, it should be taken with a grain of salt. In the free trade zone of the British Empire, commerce and ideas flowed both ways. It can be said that the Scots did much to improve or make new existing ideas, and in some cases invent; but they did not singlehandedly invent the modern world.
The Scottish Enlightenment was not without its dark side. The modernizing of the Scottish Highlands was anything but civilized. Before the Scots exported the ideas of goverment and commerce abroad, it had to brutally convert some of its own population. Herman also sidesteps the ugly fact that the Scots were deeply involved in the slave trade and the Klu Klux Klan in the US, and in the opium trade in China - recall the trading companies of Jardine Matheson and Hutchison Whampoa originally spoke with a Scottish burr. Not to say that they invented either of these unseemly businesses, but they certainly flourished in them.
Nevertheless, Professor Herman is a gifted writer and he is exceptionally good at explaining the many geniuses that populated this tiny country during the 18th century.
This is NOT an easy or a fast read. Lots of names, lots of backtracking with dates.
BUT, it is worth it. The author put a lot of effort in and it really shows.
This is a great preamble to The Colonial history of America.
It is a shining example of why you just can't make a country today "Capitalistic" and "duplicate" the successes of America.
The Scots are a Hearty Breed, and their warrior-scholar mentality and work ethic are key ingredients to the foundation of this once great nation.
Maybe we should import more Scots to jolt some more self reliance, shrink our government, and maybe we could loose this victim mentality we have today?