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

Review by Dr. Nell  Senter, Dean of Social and Behavioral Science and Associate Professor of  Philosophy, Jackson State Community College

This summer I have been enjoying the NY Times Bestseller in history from 2001- a fascinating , entertaining take on the Scots in creating what we think of as”modern Western life.” The book is 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, Georgetown University and George Mason University Professor of History. This book is published by Random House: Three Rivers Press, 2001.  It is inexpensive in paperback and well worth your time if you are interested in Scotland and the history of democracy, free market capitalism, and the idea of a “literate society.” One of  my favorite features of this romping narrative is that the author is comfortable with the role of philosophy in shaping our modern mindset. Scotland-Think David Hume and the lively debate among philosophers inspired or horrified by Thomas Hobbes’ idea that the state is necessary to avoid”a war of  all against all” or John Locke’s idea that all humans are endowed with reason and the ability to recognize our own rights and obligations as well as those of others.

Dr. Herman takes us through  the labyrinthine streets of old Edinburg and the intrigues of Protestantism versus Catholicism in the 17th and 18th centuries.  By the end of the 17th Century Scotland was governed by a harshly repressive Kirk–Scottish Presbyterianism. In England King Charles  II used brutal force against the powers of the Scottish Kirk, so much so that along with the failure of the traditional economy of Scotland though famine, the late 17th Century was known as “the killing time.” Yet out of this was to come an inspiring idea of progress that has become part of our understanding  of “human history” itself- largely a Scottish invention according to Dr. Herman. “The Scots argued that societies, like individuals grow and improve over time.” This idea of human progress has fueled the sense of history well into the current 21st century.

At this point, the author tells us “being Scottish is more than just a matter of nationality..  . It is also a state of mind of viewing the world and our place in it.

Yet what makes How the Scots Invented the modern World: The true Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything in it most enjoyable is the compelling stories of the individuals like the Scottish Reformation hero John Knox,”the last minstrel” Sir Walter Scott and enlightment philosopher David Hume, among many others. And finally the very idea, so familiar to Americans, of the “self-made man” is brought to life by the stories of “Scots in the U.S. As Dr. Herman tells us, a network of clan-like alliances and new settlements were established by extended Scottish families across southwest Virginia, North Carolina, and “eventually Tennessee.” My own ancestors on my father’s side came from Scotland in the 18th century. Our author quotes Scottish-American steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie: America would have been a poor show had it not been for the Scotch.” Read this book and you may agree.


You have many different ways of interacting with the JSCC Library

The JSCC Library welcomes you for 2014. You have many different ways of interacting with the Library.

On the JSCC Library home page (, you can scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter to get the most recent updates. We hope that you will “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

There is an Ask the Librarian tab at the top of the library’s home page that you can use to ask questions of a library staff member. This can be a research question, a question about services, etc.

Clicking on the Library Services tab at the top of the page allows you to leave a comment about the library. Scroll to the bottom of that page to leave your comment(s).

There will also be a survey this spring given to many classes that will allow you to evaluate library resources, facilities and personnel.

You can also interact with library staff in person by coming by the library and asking for assistance in finding information, etc. We welcome your comments and suggestions.

The JSCC Library is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  

There is a display in the JSCC Library front lobby which contains memorabilia about the event, many of which were donated by JSCC employees.  There are original newspapers and magazines, as well as books and other materials.

The exhibit will be up through the first week of December.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts By Susan Cain

Review by Dr. Teri Maddox, Professor of English and Speech, Jackson State Community College

I recently read Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts. Yes, I am an introvert, but I was attracted to my husband because he has the lovely qualities of introverts: the ability to listen and think before responding, to pay attention to details, to be willing to work hard behind the scenes for no glory or thanks, and to empathize sincerely with those who are hurting. Both of our children also have these great qualities, so I am happy to be surrounded by introverts in my immediate family. In addition, because I teach Public Speaking, I know that it is one of the most dreaded courses in an introvert’s college career. Susan Cain’s book celebrates introversion, providing dozens of examples and inspirational stories of how introverts have saved companies even though extroverts are the overwhelming CEO choice for Wall Street and Harvard’s Business School. Extroverts and introverts alike will enjoy this book because it reminds us that the gifts of introversion are worth celebrating.

The Richest Woman in America

I have just finished reading The Richest Woman in America by Janet Wallach  (HG 2463. G74 W35 2012)  It is an interesting biography of Hetty Green, who lived from 1834-1916.

It is a fascinating look at a woman who defied conventions of the time to become a shrewd investor and earned millions over her lifetime.  She was accused of being penurious and declining health care for her son when he was injured, but the book shows that she had a benevolent side also.

Please come by the JSCC Library and check this book out.

Scott Cohen

JSCC Library — DVD Collections (The Great Courses)

Some instructors (and students) know what I’m talking about when I mention the JSCC Library’s “Great Courses” DVDs.  Some have already made use of these resources — but not nearly as many as might benefit by doing so.

The Great Courses are a series of DVDs covering various courses and subjects, and created by instructors.  They are designed to supplement, not replace, the instruction faculty members provide and students receive in their own institutions.

Each Great Course DVD title consists of brief lectures, usually 30 minutes long; there might be 12, 24, 36, or more lectures in each title.  Information is presented in small amounts, one topic per each short lecture.  If a student is having problems with, or wants to know more about, a particular topic presented in his or her own class – a Great Course DVD lecture might provide invaluable assistance.

How to find DVDs in this series?  Access the JSCC Library homepage (, and then login to the Library’s online catalog via the link,  Find a Book/DVD/Video.  This link is found on the Library’s homepage, under “Resources.”

Once in the catalog, click on the down arrow beside the word, “Keyword,” and choose to search by “Title.”  In the search line, type the keywords:  great courses.

You will see the screen below, when you click the “Search” button:

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Above are the subject area divisions for Library-owned Great Courses DVDs; divisions such as: Business & economics; Communication skills; Modern history; and, Science & mathematics.  The number of DVD titles available in the JSCC Library for each subject area is indicated under “Entries Found.”  Each of these subject areas is a link; click into the link, to get information about the DVD titles included.

From the list above I might click on, for example, Great Courses (DVD). Modern history.  The “Entries Found” information for this link indicates that the Library owns two Great Courses DVD titles that are under the subject area of modern history.

When I click on the link, I will see these two titles:

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In order to get more information about a particular title, I would do just as I would do with any other Library resource record; click into the bold, underlined title.  So, if I want to see the full record for the first title, A brief history of the world, I click on the title link and retrieve the full record, as seen in the screenshots below:

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If you want a quick look at what lectures are included in this title, look at the “Contents” area:

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The lectures included on each disc, are listed in the Contents area of the title’s online catalog record.

On top of the well-presented and interesting lectures, all the Great Courses DVD titles come with a guide or guides to supplement the lecture material.

If you’d like to see other titles available from Great Courses, check out The Great Courses website.  “Courses by Topic” can be browsed; look at this area, located on the left side of the website homepage.  Great Courses titles are often very expensive – but sales for recent titles are always available, sometimes with up to 70-80% price discounts.

Search the JSCC online catalog for these DVD titles; you might find something you’d like to use in your classes.  Check out the Great Courses website as well; you might see a title you’d like for the Library to purchase and add to our collection for your future use.

Also — if you want your students to view a particular lecture or two, the Library will put Great Courses DVD titles on “Library use only” Reserve.   This will ensure that all the students in your class(es) get a chance to benefit from the knowledge available in these very fine resources.

If you have problems finding or accessing the JSCC Library Great Courses DVD titles – or problems finding any JSCC Library resources – please contact a Library personnel member.  Reference desk extension:  #50572.

—  Joyce Johnston, JSCC Library – Cataloging/Reference

Requesting a Book or DVD for the JSCC Library

If you are a JSCC student, faculty or staff, you can request that a book or DVD be purchased for the JSCC Library.
Please contact Gloria Hester, Acquisitions and Circulation Librarian, to request an item that you feel that the library should have. 

Just send an email to or call her at 424-3520, ext. 50328.

Great New Book in the JSCC Library

I would like to recommend One Click: Jeff Bezos and the rise of by Richard Brandt.  (Z 473 .B47 B75 2011)
It delves into what made him start his company and the very interesting things that have happened along the way.  The birth of the Kindle is discussed, as well as the innovations that Bezos used to make Amazon such a powerful company.

Scott Cohen


Book about Plants

I would like to recommend a book called Passalong Plants by Steve Bender and Felder Rushing (SB 407.B43) 

Though it is an older book, it does have timeless information. 

The book talks about Passalongs: “plants that have survived in gardens for decades by being handed down from one person to another.”

There are so many of these plants which are discussed in the book.  My favorites are:

Naked Ladies (“magic lilies”)
Passion Flowers
Rose of Sharon

The authors provide photographs of many of the plants and feature many witty comments.

Scott Cohen

A Patriotic View of Education

by Dr. Andrew Kelley, Professor, Jackson State Community College 

          In his January 6, 1816 letter to Colonel Charles Yancey, Jefferson wrote, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be…. Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe.”   

            His proposed Diffusion of Knowledge Bill of 1779 reveals that Jefferson viewed the humanities as a defensive weapon of a free people. He maintained that education could serve “to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large and more especially to give them knowledge of those facts which history exhibits, that possessed thereby of the experience of other ages and countries, they may be enabled to know ambition [i.e. lust for tyrannical control over the people] under all its shapes, and prompt to exert their natural powers to defeat its purposes.”                                                                                                                            

          Concerned also with education as character development, Jefferson wrote to Joseph C. Cabell, in 1818, “If the children are untaught, their ignorance and vices will in future life cost us much dearer in their consequences than it would have done in their correction by a good education.” He believed in “a system of primary or ward schools, and an [sic] university where might be taught, in its highest degree, every branch of science useful in our time and country”. Jefferson used the term “science” in the original Greek sense of “knowledge”, and he was a champion of education for the poor as well as the wealthy.

          Jefferson’s position on education as a necessary condition of freedom extended to freed slaves, as evidenced by the following quotation from the on-line Library of Congress manuscript collection of Jefferson’s documents:  

          In writing to Robert Pleasants, a Quaker, Thomas Jefferson suggested that the Virginia government create a public educational system for slaves based on his 1784 plan “for the more general diffusion of Knowledge” as one step in preparing them for freedom. Jefferson proposed that Pleasants introduce the legislation urging that instruction be provided for those slaves “destined to be free” and noting that “Ignorance and despotism seem made for each other.” Such a measure was proposed as an amendment to a bill but was taken out before the legislation passed.

          A Renaissance Man knowledgeable in agriculture, architecture, education, geography, law, music, and science, as well as advocate of public education for children, and founder of the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson envisioned a classical education consisting of the humanities as well as “useful sciences”. While the “useful sciences” would ensure freedom from poverty and advance the level of civilization, the humanities would ensure freedom from tyranny. Like virtually all people of his time (and of today), he thought everyone should have job skills, but employment without the freedom that comes from education would not have been acceptable to Thomas Jefferson, an American patriot.

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