Monday, September 1, 2008

Books: How the Scots Invented the Modern World by Arthur Herman

When our parents went to the San Juan Islands, they were part of a Fawson Family Book Club. For the club, they read Marley and Me by Josh Grogan and How the Scots Invented the Modern World by Arthur Herman. Though we were not invited (How rude!) to participate in the book club, since we weren't invited to the islands, we decided to read the book anyway in order to better participate in the dinner-table conversations.

This book started out with a deep historical discussion of the Kirks (Scottish Protestants), the Highlander tribesmen, and the politics prevelent at the time. Eventually, the narrative moves on to discuss the measures that Scotland took to further the common man, schooling and libraries and universities, that produced a group of incredible thinkers such as Adam Smith and David Hume. The thesis of his story was that because Scotland was always in the shadow of England, they had to work extra hard to achieve and thus produced many incredible men, ideas, and innovations.

Quick vote: This book started out strong and interesting, but by the end, it felt like Herman was grasping at straws. Seriously, James Bond is the epitome of a Scotsman?! We don't think so Arthur Herman, we don't think so.

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