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When Scotland Was Jewish: DNA Evidence, Archeology, Analysis of Migrations, and Public and Family Records Show Twelfth Century Semitic Roots 1St Edition Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0786428007
ISBN-10: 0786428007
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Editorial Reviews


Intriguing! There is a wealth of objective evidence and the authors' wry humor illuminates the discussion with wit and style. Hirschman and Yates' talents, learning, and specialized skills come together in a brilliant synthesis proving once again that the world we think we know is still very much terra incognita. -- Good Reads

Meet Lord Anthony Ashley-Cooper, the English crypto-Jew whose secretary was the philosopher John Locke...the Scottish princess Maud de Lens who combined several lines of Davidic ancestry and was one of the richest women in Europe...and the Clan Douglas warrior who removed the heart of Robert the Bruce to have it buried in Jerusalem.--Teaser

Fascinating! The DNA evidence may be the clincher. --Ancestry Worship Genealogy

About the Author

Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman was born in Kingsport, Tennessee and is of Melungeon descent. She is Professor of Marketing at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Professor Hirschman has contributed more than 200 articles, essays and chapters to professional journals and books, and is author of more than a dozen books, including When Scotland was Jewish (also co-authored with Donald N. Yates). Hirschman's research indicates the earliest American settlers were of Mediterranean extraction, and of a Jewish or Muslim religious persuasion. Sometimes called "Melungeons," these early settlers were among the earliest nonnative "Americans" to live in the Carolinas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia, perhaps including Daniel Boone, John Sevier, Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, and Andrew Jackson. She is currently at work on a history of English crypto-Jews from the beginnings to the Enlightenment. She lives in New Jersey and spends part of the year teaching in Virginia.

Donald N. Yates is an American genealogist, author, and principal investigator at DNA Consultants. He holds a Ph.D. in classical studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has published popular and scholarly works in cultural and ethnic studies, history and population genetics.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland; 1St Edition edition (July 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786428007
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786428007
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,481,517 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This volume will enrage some, puzzle others, and hopefully open some new avenues for thought and inquiry.

The authors make a decent case, via biography, naming conventions, history, genealogy, iconography, linguistics, and, to a lesser extent, DNA for many of those historically in very high places in Scotland having come from Jewish roots -- and, to some extent, having preserved them despite abundant reasons to abandon them. I don't think that they prove the case implicit in their ambitious title; indeed I doubt the authors would actually argue that they had done so, probably feeling that if they have opened the question for discussion they have done their work well. I think they have done that, and good for them!

I do have a few quibbles:

1. While I understand it's now stylistically correct to have the footnotes at the end of the book, this is an example where the book would have been greatly improved by having the footnotes on the pages they reference. Too many times a reference in the text was not clear to me when I was reading the text, but when I subsequently read the footnotes I had an "aha!" moment. I wonder how much more I would have gotten out of my reading if I had had the aha! moment when reading the text. The footnotes, by the way, are excellent.
2. I had recently read Abba Rubin's excellent "Images in Transition: The English Jew in English Literature, 1660 - 1830" and noted that the authors could have supported their case with Rubin's book. It belongs in the bibliography at any rate.
3. It's perfectly human when writing family history (this book is to some extent a family history) to choose one's examples from one's own history. Thus, it was no surprise that the authors did so here.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The DNA evidence in this work only includes DNA-Y 12 markers. Everyone in the business knows that the 12 marker is ONLY used to disprove relationships. It takes 37 markers in a Y-DNA test to prove a relationship!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book belongs to the genre, "The Jews did everything!" That said, it's an interesting review of Scottish history, beginning around the departure of the Romans from Britain in the 5th Century C.E. and going to the Reformation and beyond. Disclaimer: I'm a Jewish bagpiper, and ever since reading this book I've been teasing my Scottish bandmates.
The authors are honest in distinguishing known facts from speculation, but they are not reticent about advancing their arguments that traditionally Scottish things, ranging from the Presbyterian Church to the bagpipe, might have had Jewish roots. If you demand certainty you won't enjoy this book. If you are tickled by the idea that the mysterious St. Machar--who has a church dedicated to him in Aberdeen, but about whom virtually nothing definite is known--has a Jewish name, the same as the character in Sholem Aleichem/Fiddler on the Roof, then you will find it pretty interesting.
The first of the two central ideas of the book is that Scottish culture, beginning in the Dark Ages, was much more advanced, complex and independent than most histories, written from an English point of view, would make it seem. (Anytime you conquer a people, it's routine to try to make them seem stupid and barbaric.) The second is that a large number of Sephardic Jews fleeing persecution in southern Europe ended up in Scotland, and that these people, though outwardly Christian, nevertheless continued many Jewish traditions which have left permanent traces in the nation. Though difficult to prove beyond any doubt, these ideas are both pretty interesting.
I'm not conversant with the subtleties of DNA tracing, and so can't comment on that part of argument. The style of the book is very readable. The cost is an obstacle. I found a half-price copy through Amazon.
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Format: Paperback
Rather than waste any more of my time by writing a detailed review, I'll instead just run through some of the more outlandish propositions and amateurish writing put forth in this book.

Of the many puzzling statements that I found hard to swallow, this one is perhaps the pick of the bunch:

"Scots today continue to practice a "Reform" type of Judaism. It is called Presbyterianism"

If you thought that must be a wry attempt by the authors at a bit of light-hearted humour, sadly you would be mistaken. That quote was taken from the very first chapter, and I'm afraid it's all downhill from there.

Throughout the early chapters, it amply provides illustrations of Scottish notables as "evidence" that they were Jewish, including an actual caricature of a man who, it is kindly pointed out to the reader so there can be no mistake, has an "extremely prominent nose". This is quite typical of how the passages are written too - that is, it relies far too heavily on conjecture and personal anecdotes rather than factual substance. The whole thing is awash with remarks such as "we propose...", or "it is our opinion...", but only on occasion do they go on to provide any further explanation.

This work is nothing if not bold - it flies in the face of all prevailing historical and genealogical consensus. Almost inevitably though, it has utterly failed to present any convincing arguments that undermines the established historical narrative.

Overall, I found this book to be littered with inaccuracies, half-or-no-truths and outrageous assumptions. It seems to me that the authors wrote this book with less regard for historical and scientific truth than they did for pandering to the curiosity and egos of their targeted audience. This is something altogether more than historical revision, folks; this is fan fiction...
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