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Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America [Paperback]

James Webb
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 July 2009

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.

When hundreds of thousands of Scots-Irish migrated to America in the eighteenth century, they brought 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 epic journey of this remarkable ethnic group and the profound but unrecognised role it has played in shaping the social, political and cultural landscape of America from its beginnings through to the present day.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing (2 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845964977
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845964979
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 251,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"An extraordinary and ambitious book, written with power and perfect clarity" (Scotland Magazine)

"Powerful stuff . . . an absorbing book" (BBC Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine)

"An entertaining and thought-provoking read" (Scottish Field)

"A comprehensive account of the effect the Scots-Irish had on the American people of today . . . a scholarly work" (Scottish Home and Country)

"Certainly provides some illuminating historical perspectives . . . definitely worth a read" (Morning Star)

About the Author

James Webb is the author of six bestselling novels, including Fields of Fire and The Emperor's General. He is also a filmaker (Rules of Engagement), an Emmy Award-winning journalist and has taught literature at university level. A descendant of Scots-Irish immigrants from Ulster who emigrated to the British North American colonies in the eighteenth century, he lives in Virginia.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scots-Irish building America 23 Oct 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As someone who actually is Scots-Irish or Ulster-Scot, I would happily recommend this book. It is an aspect of history that attracts far too little attention, despite the influence the Scots-Irish have had on the world, especially in North America. An influence that for too long, was virtually forgotten.

"A Yank in Belfast" questions a few aspects of the book, such as their defence of the frontier,"...Webb goes too far in defining this attribute as somehow ethnically unique." I would say that Webb actually has a point. If you properly understand the history, culture and character traits of the average Scots-Irish settler, you would know that they were ideal frontiersmen: Independent; self-reliant and unafraid to fight for what they believed in.

Their religious beliefs, through the generations had also moulded many of them into quite radical political thinkers and they played an influential role in rebellions on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1700s. A German captain fighting on the side of the British during the American War of Independence even said, "Call this war by whatever name you may, only call it not an American rebellion; it is nothing more or less than a Scots-Irish Presbyterian rebellion". George Washington said, "If defeated everywhere else, I will make my last stand for liberty among the Scots-Irish of my native Virginia. All of this, combined with such things as their influence over the Declaration of Independence (which a Scots-Irishman printed) and many other things I could list, I think supports James Webb's comments about the importance / influence of the Scots-Irish in the history of the US. The qualities / culture / history of the people, made this possible.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book 14 Oct 2011
By Knox
Fantastic book on a history rarely covered. I am an Ulster Scot living in Switzerland and was fascinated by the accounts of the seige of Derry and the long hard journey through the fronteirs of America. I think the author made the book very readable and I didnt want it to end.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Whole Story at Last 23 Oct 2004
This history written by a talented and far sighted individual, James Webb, places the complete story of this remarkable ethnic group of people in its correct context. For it is their ethnicity that defines them rather than attachment to any physical space. I found Mr Webb's description of his father's funeral at Arlington very moving. It was as though, as in the days of yore, another brave warrior was laid to rest by his native clan. The sense of a bagpiper playing Scotland the Brave as it carried away on the breeze gave me 'goosebumps.' Highly recommend this book tae all Scots-Irish.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A LOG ROAD TRAVELED 12 Feb 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I, as a Scotsman, read this book on the recommendation of friend, reading it during my deployment in Afghanistan with the 1st and then 2nd Marine Expeditionary Forces. I found the story compelling and borne out in truth from reflecting on my own culture, spirit and history and more so from my interactions with the Marines of the USMC, many of whom trace their lineage back to their Scots-Irish roots; and who were proud to reveal their stories and their heritage. A well researched and gripping account of these, the best of people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hooray for hillbillies! 25 Jun 2012
By Raindog
Senator Webb is proud of his roots. I'm proud to belong to the same 'family tree', all be it a branch that stayed on the east side of the Atlantic. I felt the book was a good starting point for drawing to our attention the importance of the Scots Prebyterian contribution to the shaping of America. He makes a strong case for celebrating an ethnic group that hardly recognises itself as such. He has also attempted to grasp the nettle of the less attractive aspects of our culture whilst emphasising it's positive impact.
I am glad I purchased and read the book. It deserves to be widely read, not least by the decendants of those people it celebrates.It has become too easy to vilify the white Prebyterian working class, on both sides of the Atlantic. This book might help in the understanding of the pivotal role their values have played here in Scotland, in Ulster and of course in America.
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