How the Scots Invented the Modern World, Arthur Herman

John AdamsHow the Scots Invented the Modern World by Arthur Herman is a fascinating book. I bought the book just because if its intriguing title. The book is a look at the Scottish Renaissance and its effects on Scotland, Britain and the world.

I really didn’t know much about Scottish history before so this book was an interesting introduction. The author’s premise is that the Scottish Renaissance laid the foundation for much of what it means to be modern in fields ranging from medicine to government to philosophy to law.

Herman begins with the Scottish philosophers like Locke and Hume. I had always believed that Locke was British. His ideas on civil government particularly the idea of government based on the consent of the governed is a key principle that traces down to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

I especially enjoy the connections in the book — the way it ties together with my other recent reading.

This book discusses the influence of the Church or Kirk on Scottish society. The Kirk supported parrish schools throughout the country that led to the highest literacy rate in Europe and resulted in the founding of the great Universities as Edinburgh and Aberdeen. In the New World, John Witherspoon, became president of Princeton University. Under his leadership Princeton and the Presbyterian clergy became instrumental in the American Revolution. King George referred to them as the  Black-Robed Regiment and their pulpits rang with calls to arms.

Herman discusses the unification of Scotland with Britain, the origins of the Highland myth and the diaspora following the clearings.He follows famous and influential Scots around the world noting their contributions to literature, medicine, science, engineering, warfare, government and the arts.

This was an interesting book on a topic I knew little about — it whetted my appetite for more reading into British and Scottish history.

How the Scots Invented the Modern World gets 4 of 5 dis-oriented smileys  ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-)

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