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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Scots Enlightened the world
The book might be better titled 'The Scottish Enlightenment and its influences on the modern world.' It is divided into two sections, 'Epiphany' and 'Diaspora'. Few will need an introduction to notions of a Scottish diaspora, but 'epiphany' is an interesting twist on 'Enlightenment'. The conventional academic gloss on the Enlightenment focuses on French appeals to...
Published on March 14 2003 by Mark Mills

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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hmmm, maybe I missed something...
but I found this one of the driest books I've read in ages. I was quite eager to learn more about the history of Scotland and the Scots; it's part of my heritage. And I have read scholarly works before, so it's not that I am unfamiliar with such or expected a novel. However, this man took what is doubtless a very interesting topic, and made me cringe repeatedly with his...
Published on Jan. 5 2004 by Canuck reader


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Convincing Argument On Scottish Contributions To Mankind, June 29 2004
By 
Michael Lima (Fresno, California USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It (Paperback)
The sensations I have upon completing an exceptional book are very akin to the refreshment, exhilaration, and enlivenment that I feel after drinking a glass of ice water on a hot day. Those were the feelings I had after finishing How The Scots Invented The Modern World.
My feelings were the result of the remarkable way in which Herman organized and presented his work. Herman lays out his case in both chronological and subject order. The result of this organization is that the reader gets a true sense of how the Scottish Enlightenment's ideas not only grew from one thinker to another, but also how they moved across subject fields to create innovations in those areas as well. Herman also provides impeccable sources for his thesis, thereby giving credence to the theories he presents on the depth of Scottish contributions. Finally, he writes these theories and evidence in a way that is very accessible to the average reader. Even the chapters on philosophy, which had the potential for being very difficult, are presented in a comprehensible style. Because the concepts are depicted in an easy-to-understand manner, the reader can recognize the relevance of those ideas to modern life.
How The Scots Invented The Modern World should be required reading for college level history or philosophy classes. However, this is not a work that should be solely confined to the classroom. Any reader that finishes this book will find it impossible not to have an appreciation for the tremendous contributions that the Scots have made to the world.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Neat Book, July 13 2004
By 
Steven Beishuizen (Port Coquitlam, BC Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It (Paperback)
I'm all for bold and provocative titles, and I suppose this book's title is appropriate for the subject matter. When I was about half way through though, I read some of my fellow Amazon readers' comments about the author's lack of supporting information and sources for some of his claims. As I continued reading, I was more aware of this, and it did begin to bother me to see unsupported claims presented as fact. On the whole though, it was a great read. Call it boosterism if you want, but the writing is definitely accessible to all readers and on subjects and themes so diverse that the connections the author makes between them often make for more interesting reading that the colorful stories themselves.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Essential primer on Scots-American heritage, April 7 2004
By A Customer
Excellent and very readable story of the Scots contribution to Western civilization and the foundations of the USA in particular
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5.0 out of 5 stars a little point.......to maopingpong, Nov. 29 2003
This review is from: How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It (Paperback)
Maopingpong is wrong to state that the Scots were ' subjugated ' by the English.Scotland has never been conquered by the 'southern cousins',and Scotland joined the United Kingdom as a full partner in 1707,unlike the Irish and Welsh.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable and informative, Nov. 1 2003
By 
H. Hindle "cafeaulait" (IN United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It (Paperback)
The title of this book is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I would imagine. I took the contents with a grain of salt. I did, however learn a lot from this book and very much enjoyed its style. Though my Ulster Scot (I learned that from the book) ancestors are long in the past, I gained a certain amount of pride from learing about the many contributions made to civilization by the Scots.
On the other hand, I'm sure a similar book could be written about the contributions of any number of people groups, and some slam books could be written about the Scots, too.
But it was a fun and interesting book and I intend to read it again sometime. I would reccommend it as a fun and informative read. A light sort of history book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars If the Scots were so great ..., Oct. 6 2003
then why have they been subjugated by the English for all these years?
For a non-Scot, this book was a fascinating read. However, as a serious point of argument, I am considerably more skeptical about the author's outrageous claim that the Scots invented the modern world. True, Adam Smith and David Hume were intellectual giants of the first order. Even the lesser lights cited by the authors have made significant contributions. I am not here to dispute at all that Scotland contributed towards the formation of the moder world view, but to hype it up to the level of inventing modernity reminded one of Al Gore's Internet boast.
What I found incredible is the author's almost complete omission of Scottish contribution to science. Lord Kelvin was mentioned, but his seminal contribution to science hardly discussed. James Clerk Maxwell, the scientist with arguably the most impact on our daily life with his founding of electromagnetic theory, was mentioned in one sentence as a semi-traitor to Scotland (moving from Aberdeen to Cambridge).
Still as entertainment, the book should be well worth the while. I doubt even the author was that serious about his claim.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A delightful way to spend a few hours of your reading time, Aug. 19 2003
By 
Craig Matteson (Saline, MI) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It (Paperback)
While many of us have in our minds a few famous and historic Scottish men and women along with plaid, bagpipes, the kilt, golf, and single malt Scotch Whiskey (and maybe even deep fried Snickers Bars), I doubt many of us would be prepared for the sheer cultural power that roared out of Scotland from the 17th through the 19th centuries.
This delightful book not only sparkles with insight and wit, it fills an important historical gap. It helps us understand better the sources of the Scottish Enlightenment and how that influenced not only the development of the British Empire, but the role it played in the American Revolution and in the Industrial Revolution everywhere.
You will find all kinds of colorful personalities. There is enough detail that unless you are a scholar of a particular person, you will likely learn something new. For example, even if you know David Hume was a Scotsman, how could you ever tell from his writing that he always spoke with a strong Scottish burr? And that is just a very minor point.
There is also the issue of the real kilt versus the standard Highland dress we know today that was dreamt up during the Regency period. But there is also the very real tragedy of the Clearances during the same time. When landlords realized they could make more money raising sheep than having people and farmers on their land paying rents they drove them off even if it meant burning them out. But that sent more people to America and into the British Army and thence to India and spread the culture around the globe.
It is true, however, that by the end you begin wondering if other cultures couldn't tell a similarly comprehensive tale because events are so complex and so many people are involved that you only need one of your team in there to claim the whole thing.
It is clear to me that the Scots were and are a remarkable people (my ancestry goes back that way, so I am biased), and there are singular achievements that are clearly theirs. But there comes a point where you have to draw the line and admit that you were simply one of the participants and not the single progenitor.
However, I recommend that you take a few hours and read this book. I believe you will find it a quite happy investment of your reading time.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Non-buff makes it all the way through a history book, Aug. 8 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It (Paperback)
My husband (a Scotsman) recommended this book to me (Scots by descent...370 years ago!). I don't usually read history unless it's written extremely well and is of great interest to me. In other words, almost never. I did find this book very interesting, but I admit it took me a few months of reading it in small chunks to make it through. Still, I made it to the end, which says something for the book.
I learned a little more about the history of thought and economics, and I found the section on Alexander Mackenzie particularly compelling. In the US, we learn that Lewis and Clark were the first white people to cross the land. Not quite true - Mackenzie crossed Canada before they crossed the US. This book sparked my interest in him, and today I'm online to buy his journals. (Not to diss Lewis and Clark - they're great heroes of mine, and Undaunted Courage was by far the best history book I've ever read.)
Among other things, How the Scots... made me more proud than ever to be Scottish. I think every English person ought to be required to read this book. :-)
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Scots are still to the fore., July 7 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It (Paperback)
whilst there is little doubt the Scots are unlikely to reach the heights of the 'Enlightenment' again, Arthur Herman has presented an unassailable case, that the Scots people have punched above their weight for centuries and will continue to do so. The facts are there, written down forever in the history books, and I disagree with the reviewer from Mill Valley, CA, who likens the Scots to the Greeks and asks where the Scots are now. They are still very much to the fore, but once you have created the modern world, where is there to go? except to remain at the forefront of all things, which the Scots are doing. Scots are still to the fore in all walks of life, politics, industry, business, science, medicine, etc. Look at the UK Government, Tony Blair is at least, half Scottish, and the majority of his cabinet are Scottish. Who cloned 'Dolly the Sheep'? Brother and Sister team Brian Soutar and Ann Gloag, operate one of the biggest business concerns in the world with their international bus company 'Stagecoach', which they built up from nothing. I could go on and on. Yes, Scots are still to the fore throughout the world, but as ever, they hide their light under a bushel, and it may take another few centuries until another Arthur Herman uncovers what they are up to at the moment. Well done Professor Herman, and more power to your elbow.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Got to love the Scots., May 28 2003
By 
Gaetan Lion - See all my reviews
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This is an excellent book. It makes an interesting case that the concentration of intellectual talent during the Scottish Enlightenment defies randomness.
From reading this book, I am also reminded what an intellectual giant Adam Smith is. I also found out Adam Smith was not so easy to read first hand. So, I had much more fun learning about Adam Smith in this book, than reading the few paragraphs I managed to read from "Wealth of Nations."
The one question is, where are the Scots today? I guess just where the Greeks are. Meaning a given group of people from a specific country or culture can have a spike of intellectual and innovative success during a short period of time. This is only to return to anonymity shortly thereafter. This inevitable cycle of cultures life does not detract at all from this very good book.
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