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

Who are the Scots-Irish, and what impact have they had on American society?  James Webb answers both these questions quite adequately, as he paints a vivid picture of this distinctive cultural group.  He follows their beginnings in Scotland some two thousand years ago, to their settlement in what later became Northern Ireland, and then their mass migrations to the American colonies in the pre-Revolution years. 

Born_fighting The Scots-Irish and their descendants made a strong name for themselves as ardent individualists, with a hard-eyed determination for living and fighting, no doubt influenced by the situations they found themselves in, whether it was war-torn Ulster or the difficult tenure of the Appalachian mountains, and they brought their attitudes with them wherever their wanderlust took them, which in their case was practically everywhere in the country.  It was their steely fortitude, argues the author, that strongly influenced American thought on government, religion, defense, and respect for the the common individual, especially from the viewpoint of the working class.

Webb writes a compelling history of the Scots-Irish.  For those who are enthusiasts of North Carolina history , this book is definitely worth a read, as this group played such a strong role in the settlement of the western half of the state.  For family history buffs and folks with Scots-Irish heritages, there’s some interesting reminiscences about Webb’s family – it may get you to wondering about your own ancestors, particularly from the Appalachian area.

(William Hicks, Information Services)


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