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Publisher's Summary

Who formed the first literate society? Who invented our modern ideas of democracy and free market capitalism? The Scots. As historian and author Arthur Herman reveals, in the 18th and 19th centuries Scotland made crucial contributions to science, philosophy, literature, education, medicine, commerce, and politics - contributions that have formed and nurtured the modern West ever since. This book is not just about Scotland: it is an exciting account of the origins of the modern world. No one who takes this incredible historical trek will ever view the Scots - or the modern West - in the same way again.

©2001 Arthur Herman (P)2016 Recorded Books

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Eagerly Awaited Audiobook

I first read this book in 2002, shortly after publishing and found it so informative and well written, I have referred to parts of it several times in the past. It is a book I have been waiting for in audio format and it was finally published in audio in August of 2016. So I was quite excited to read it in audio format as soon as I could.

There are so many books I have read in paper form and later in audiobook format and usually I am either disappointed in the audiobook, or I find it much improved over the original version. This is one of the few that I have read that I think shines in both formats. Much of the history and the philosophical concepts introduced in the book were fairly new to me when I originally read it. The book started me on a quest to learn more about Scotland, it's history and it's contributions to civilization so when I read the audiobook version I was much more familiar with the content. So I didn't have to stop reading and go do independent research on a specific topic or person, just so I could keep up, as I did the first time I read it. This time I was able to really focus and listen and I picked up so much I missed the first time and also was able to process some of the concepts more thoroughly.

This is a broad overview of Scotland and it's contribution to civilization over the course of the last 400 years. It should be read from that perspective. It is a starting point for those who want to learn the basics about Hume, Smith and Hutchinson, or learn more about the Acts of Union that formed Great Britain 300 years ago and may become dissolved in the near future. But it digs deeply enough into the subjects that the reader feels they are learning something meaningful. I highly recommend in either format.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful Well Organized History of Influential Scots and Scottish Culture

This book presented a well organized and succinct history of many of Scotland’s most advanced thinkers and doers. I am traveling to Scotland in a few weeks and hoped to gain some general insight into Scottish history and culture. I couldn’t have chosen a better book for this objective.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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The Scott's are my new favorite people! <br /><br />

I had no idea so many truly great men were Scott, but that's why I listen to audio books. Listening to the narrator get the names and places right makes it easier than trying to read it for my self. I would have liked to hear more about Scott's women and their conrabutions. Behind every great man there are at least half a dozen remarkable women.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • B Rose
  • Hillsborough NC
  • 02-25-18

First half is good.

Most of this book is about economics not history. I enjoyed most of the first half although it’s a bit hard to follow at times. The rest of it isn’t worth the time if you’re looking for history.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful history lesson

Being of Scottish ancestry I truly enjoyed learning of how Scots have impacted the world. I found the book to be very informative covering several hundred years of history in a fashion that made it easy to understand. I recommend this book to anybody that is trying to learn more about Scotland, it's vast history how it's people have changed the world.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic story

What about Robert Ian Mackenzie’s performance did you like?

Perfect narrator.

Any additional comments?

Somehow I was put off by the title, thinking it was a gimmick book. This is the best overview of the many Scottish contributions to the society of modern man. It has rekindled my appetite for learning about the modern foundations of liberty. The myriad of essential works written by the Scottish enlightenment is astounding. They really did invent our modern world and renewed my interest in exploring my family roots.

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  • John
  • Woodstock, GA, United States
  • 07-30-17

I really enjoyed and learned a lot.

As someone with Stewart as my last name I have always been fascinated by Scotland. This book boosted my Scottish pride while being honest about Scotland's shortcomings. If you have any interest in Scotland at all you will thoroughly enjoy this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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boring and self absorbed

so many things can't be credited just to Scot's. I'm part Scottish. LOVE the Scots, but this is such a bore of a story to rewrite everything to credit the Scots is tedious. And any nation could do the same.

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loved the narration

very interesting book read by a wonderful narrator that brings all the history to life.

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I found that schools are teaching the wrong story

now I look at Scottish people and culture with new eyes! just forget what you learned in schools.