Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America

Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America

by Jim Webb
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Overview

Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America by Jim Webb

In his first work of nonfiction, bestselling novelist James Webb tells the epic story of the Scots-Irish, a people whose lives and worldview were dictated by resistance, conflict, and struggle, and who, in turn, profoundly influenced the social, political, and cultural landscape of America from its beginnings through the present day.

More than 27 million Americans today can trace their lineage to the Scots, whose bloodline was stained by centuries of continuous warfare along the border between England and Scotland, and later in the bitter settlements of England’s Ulster Plantation in Northern Ireland. Between 250,000 and 400,000 Scots-Irish migrated to America in the eighteenth century, traveling in groups of families and bringing with them not only long experience as rebels and outcasts but also unparalleled skills as frontiersmen and guerrilla fighters. Their cultural identity reflected acute individualism, dislike of aristocracy and a military tradition, and, over time, the Scots-Irish defined the attitudes and values of the military, of working class America, and even of the peculiarly populist form of American democracy itself.
Born Fighting is the first book to chronicle the full journey of this remarkable cultural group, and the profound, but unrecognized, role it has played in the shaping of America. Written with the storytelling verve that has earned his works such acclaim as “captivating . . . unforgettable” (the Wall Street Journal on Lost Soliders), Scots-Irishman James Webb, Vietnam combat veteran and former Naval Secretary, traces the history of his people, beginning nearly two thousand years ago at Hadrian’s Wall, when the nation of Scotland was formed north of the Wall through armed conflict in contrast to England’s formation to the south through commerce and trade. Webb recounts the Scots’ odyssey—their clashes with the English in Scotland and then in Ulster, their retreat from one war-ravaged land to another. Through engrossing chronicles of the challenges the Scots-Irish faced, Webb vividly portrays how they developed the qualities that helped settle the American frontier and define the American character.
Born Fighting shows that the Scots-Irish were 40 percent of the Revolutionary War army; they included the pioneers Daniel Boone, Lewis and Clark, Davy Crockett, and Sam Houston; they were the writers Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain; and they have given America numerous great military leaders, including Stonewall Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Audie Murphy, and George S. Patton, as well as most of the soldiers of the Confederacy (only 5 percent of whom owned slaves, and who fought against what they viewed as an invading army). It illustrates how the Scots-Irish redefined American politics, creating the populist movement and giving the country a dozen presidents, including Andrew Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. And it explores how the Scots-Irish culture of isolation, hard luck, stubbornness, and mistrust of the nation’s elite formed and still dominates blue-collar America, the military services, the Bible Belt, and country music.
Both a distinguished work of cultural history and a human drama that speaks straight to the heart of contemporary America, Born Fighting reintroduces America to its most powerful, patriotic, and individualistic cultural group—one too often ignored or taken for granted.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780767922951
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 10/11/2005
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 89,631
File size: 736 KB

About the Author

JAMES WEBB is the author of six novels, including Fields of Fire, Lost Soldiers, and The Emperor’s General. He is also a filmmaker (Rules of Engagement), a world-traveled, Emmy Award–winning journalist, and has taught literature at the university level. One of the most highly decorated Marines of the Vietnam War, he served as Assistant Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy during the Reagan Administration. A native of St. Joseph, Missouri, he lives in Arlington, Virginia.

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Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Being of Scots-Irish heritage, I was extremely pleased with this book. For the first time I began to fully understand the gift my ancestors have given me. I now look at my remaining family members and those who are no longer with us with a much greater appreciation, admiration and respect. I am definitely highly recommending this book to anyone who treasures their family in all its subtleties and complexities.

James Webb has created a very readable book. It reads like fiction rather than non fiction yet is highly informative, thought provoking and obviously well-researched. Bravo, Sen. Webb!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Born Fighting is a good book, but for the original scholarship one must pick up Leyburn's Scotch-Irish or for a more recent scholarly discussion of ethnic immigration into colonial America grab a copy of Fischer's Albion's Seed. Webb's book is a good summary of Leyburn's and Fischer's scholarship. He presents their material with personal anecdotes that bring to life some of the cultural traits of the Scots-Irish, which results in many passionate and engaging passages. Some of Webb's conclusions may be a bit too general or treat historical events beyond the scope of his focus too casually but overall he does a good job arguing that the particular and persistant cultural traits of the Scots-Irish had a profound and unique impact on the history of the American frontier and aspects of our contemporary culture.
Northstaar More than 1 year ago
This history of the Scots-Irish is for everyone who treasures the rugged individualism and spirit of the first Americans and our founding. Tracing the culture from early Scotland to the present, you will see how the values of the Scots-Irish have helped form America in the past and continue to teach us valuable lessons even now.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I feel this book helps Scots-Irish descendants appreciate the journey of our ancestors.I feel thankful to be an American.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Despite the less than sterling reviews by previous individuals, I found the book to be highly informative and entertaining. Contrary to one reviewer's opinion, I learned in high school geography that the Appalachians do extend into New England and Canada. That's according to some outfit called the United States Geological Service.
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A little repetitive but a very interesting theory well documented and convincing.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this work arrogant and self-effacing by an author who was all too often willing to bend history to fit his argument. Bending history began with the claims that the bulk of the French and Indian War was fought in Appalachia. This might be true if one claims that Appalachia extends to the Hudson River, the Mohawk River, Lake George, Lake Champlain and to the plains of Abraham in Quebec where the Marquis de Montcalm finally met defeat and lost his life. And this author's argument was that the United States was not explored, hacked-out of the wilderness, and defended by many but that the Scots-Irish did it all. This is a pompous work and obnoxious in its reading. Don't waste either your money or your time.