In his book How the Scots invented the Modern World: the true story of how western Europe's poorest nation created our world & everything in it. (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2001), Herman traces Scotland’s contributions to modern day culture. The author displays his arguments by using scholars as well as historians to show how the Scots have been at the forefront in transforming the west into a dominant power. Herman has sold an extra ordinary number of this writing which is estimated to be in the tune of 350,000 copies the world over. The author is a former professor at Georgetown University where he taught history. He has also taught at the Catholic University and Smithsonian Campus which are located at the Mall.
The author through this book has given the Scots all the credit in what he calls the “great transformation” (2). Herman who is an historian clearly argues from the perspective of a maestro and his clear knowledge of the topic makes the book a favorite among many history enthusiasts. The author points out that the Scot were basically the pioneers of various contributions in the world of literature, philosophy, science, medicine, politics and education in the west. He argues that the efforts the Scots put into these contributions nurtured the growth and formation of the modern west into what it is now. The author has in the book provided variable insight into the Scots and by this piece of work of the civilization of the west and the Scots role in it will never be viewed the same again.
It would obviously seem as a grandiose contention for anyone to believe that Scotland a small country can forge the rest of the vast western future. This is what the author tries to put across. Herman who does not have any Scottish roots has tried all his best to provide a compelling as well as convincing argument to his piece of marvel. The professor writes this book with passion while at the same time providing an infectious injection into his book and this is primarily the reason it has received worldwide acclamation.
Herman has been considered a natural writer by his peers and this is not hard to see in the way he weaves his philosophical concerns through his masterly in presenting this historical narrative. His work is realistic and by giving it an accessible characteristic, Herman does not at all compromise on the quality of the final text. According to the professor, the spring board that propelled Scotland to be a significant player in transforming the fortunes of the west can mainly be hinged on the Presbyterian revolution.
The author argues from the point that the notion the Presbyterians exhibited on power was the start of Scotland’s fortunes. He comes to this conclusion by stating that the Presbyterians believed that political power was ordained by God but not vested on the empire or the clergy. They believed that this power was vested on the public and no one in particular (18). One of the events that the author thinks could have been the major turning over of Scotland, was the setting of the Schools Act by the Scottish parliament. The act stated that there was supposed to be a school in every parish as well as salaried teachers. Paradoxically, this was the same year in which Aikenhead was executed. He was charged with blasphemy by claiming that he wished he was in hell “to warm myself there” (2). He had also been vocal dismissing the beliefs of Protestants on God, the Bible and Jesus.
The author uses clear cut facts to support his arguments and he points out that by 1750 the Scots had an approximate 75% literacy level which the author reckons put it as the most educated nation on earth. The strategic location of Scotland on the periphery of Britain also played a huge role according to Herman. The author asserts that Scotland’s location earned it peace and order which mainly resulted from the stronger British state. The author argues that England showed little if any interest on its north part of the border. This as the author seems to suggest assisted Scotland to remain independent and at the same time have room for its development as well as innovation.
Herman presents his views by mainly focusing on the main players who through their hard work and determination helped enlightening Scotland. The professor gives Hutcheson and kames the credit they deserve as persons of analytical thought. The author also does not fail to mention Smith as a philosopher of depth. Through this work the professor tries to suggest that his historical perspective on the prominence of Scotland is embedded on the prominence of a few charismatic individuals rather than the struggle of its population or perhaps its response to natural catastrophes. His approach however, presents some obvious flaws.
The author is carried away by his assumptions and the need to paint a rosy picture of his ideologies. The highland clearance saga can be considered as a shameful event in the history of Scotland. He however sees this as otherwise by engrossing it. He sees this as the price that had to be rightfully paid in order to progress but the fact of the matter is that these atrocities cannot be seen as the stepping stone behind the achievements of Scotland. In portraying these events as catalyst to a process the author may seem to be suggesting that an event such as the holocaust was a wake up call to teach the western civilization abut the ardent dangers of racism.
The author also seems to be blinded in his vision of painting Scotland perfectly by suggesting that all the good things that happened can solely be associated with the Scots hard work and determination. He does this by suggesting that the negative aspects of Scotland such as slavery, racism, religious indoctrinations among others were brought by the others in particular the English. The book however deserves to be hailed as a piece of fascination. The 400 book paints a perfect picture of Scotland and considering the author is not even Scottish, credit should be given for his exceptional piece of writing.