Book Review of How the Scots Invented the Modern World

How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything in It by Arthur Herman (2001)

If you are looking for a good history of Scotland and its impact, as well as Great Britain and the British Empire, then look no further than Arthur Herman’s How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything in It.

Although the subtitle may sound slightly pretentious and exaggerated, the book is well researched and the author supports his arguments with good evidence.  However, perhaps the phrase “created our world and everything in it” could have been changed to something more modest and reasonable so as not to appear quite as pompous and smug.

The book begins by explaining how Scotland worked its way out of being the poorest and most embattled nation in Western Europe to what it is today.  The book does read more or less like a history text book but still manages to paint pictures well while also providing great details of the time and circumstances.  By giving first-hand accounts of what was happening in the UK at the time, the book relays a very vivid portrayal of what Scotland was like in the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries.  The book also outlines how Scotland, in spite of its financial state, was a leader in many fields including economics, philosophy, and medicine.  Author Arthur Herman supports his arguments with good use of historical evidence, such as the example of the treatment of scurvy to support his claim of advances in medicine due to the Scots.  Finally, Scotland’s direct impact on global economics and policy is also argued well.   This is accomplished in addition to bringing to light many other unknown issues along with a thorough explanation of other more popular aspects of Scotland’s global impact.

Although the overall style of writing is a little dry, How the Scots Invented the Modern World is a fascinating read for anyone interested in history, law, Scotland, the UK, economics, and more.

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Comments

    • Lee
    • March 16, 2010
    Reply

    I believe that anyone whose heritage is Scottish would very much be interested in reading this book. It covers important facts that are attributed to the title of the book, “How the Scots Invented the Modern World”, including the reviewers title:
    “The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything in It”

    The reviewer states that it reads a little like a history book, but then I have to ask, is it not a part of history what has in fact evolved?

    I must say that after reading the review I find myself, who has no Scottish heritage, being very interested in how this country in spite of its financial state was a leader in many fields, including economics, philosophy, and medicine. Maybe other country leaders should read this book and take heed.

    Leokadia

    • raymond
    • March 17, 2010
    Reply

    will look out for this book, as the foundation of history is the making of a successful man.

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