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Who formed the first literate society? Who invented our modern ideas of democracy and free market capitalism? The Scots. As historian and author Arthur Herman reveals, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Scotland made crucial contributions to science, philosophy, literature, education, medicine, commerce, and politics—contributions that have formed and nurtured the modern West ever since.
Herman has charted a fascinating journey across the centuries of Scottish history. Here is the untold story of how John Knox and the Church of Scotland laid the foundation for our modern idea of democracy; how the Scottish Enlightenment helped to inspire both the American Revolution and the U.S. Constitution; and how thousands of Scottish immigrants left their homes to create the American frontier, the Australian outback, and the British Empire in India and Hong Kong.
How the Scots Invented the Modern World reveals how Scottish genius for creating the basic ideas and institutions of modern life stamped the lives of a series of remarkable historical figures, from James Watt and Adam Smith to Andrew Carnegie and Arthur Conan Doyle, and how Scottish heroes continue to inspire our contemporary culture, from William “Braveheart” Wallace to James Bond.
And no one who takes this incredible historical trek will ever view the Scots—or the modern West—in the same way again.
“A rambunctious book that is itself alive with the animal spirits of the marketplace.”—The Wall Street Journal
Freedom’s Forge reveals how two extraordinary American businessmen—General Motors automobile magnate William “Big Bill” Knudsen and shipbuilder Henry J. Kaiser—helped corral, cajole, and inspire business leaders across the country to mobilize the “arsenal of democracy” that propelled the Allies to victory in World War II. Drafting top talent from companies like Chrysler, Republic Steel, Boeing, Lockheed, GE, and Frigidaire, Knudsen and Kaiser turned auto plants into aircraft factories and civilian assembly lines into fountains of munitions. In four short years they transformed America’s army from a hollow shell into a truly global force, laying the foundations for the country’s rise as an economic as well as military superpower. Freedom’s Forge vividly re-creates American industry’s finest hour, when the nation’s business elites put aside their pursuit of profits and set about saving the world.
Praise for Freedom’s Forge
“A rarely told industrial saga, rich with particulars of the growing pains and eventual triumphs of American industry . . . Arthur Herman has set out to right an injustice: the loss, down history’s memory hole, of the epic achievements of American business in helping the United States and its allies win World War II.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Magnificent . . . It’s not often that a historian comes up with a fresh approach to an absolutely critical element of the Allied victory in World War II, but Pulitzer finalist Herman . . . has done just that.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A compulsively readable tribute to ‘the miracle of mass production.’ ”—Publishers Weekly
“The production statistics cited by Mr. Herman . . . astound.”—The Economist
“[A] fantastic book.”—Forbes
“Freedom’s Forge is the story of how the ingenuity and energy of the American private sector was turned loose to equip the finest military force on the face of the earth. In an era of gathering threats and shrinking defense budgets, it is a timely lesson told by one of the great historians of our time.”—Donald Rumsfeld
Douglas MacArthur was arguably the last American public figure to be worshipped unreservedly as a national hero, the last military figure to conjure up the romantic stirrings once evoked by George Armstrong Custer and Robert E. Lee. But he was also one of America’s most divisive figures, a man whose entire career was steeped in controversy. Was he an avatar or an anachronism, a brilliant strategist or a vainglorious mountebank? Drawing on a wealth of new sources, Arthur Herman delivers a powerhouse biography that peels back the layers of myth—both good and bad—and exposes the marrow of the man beneath.
MacArthur’s life spans the emergence of the United States Army as a global fighting force. Its history is to a great degree his story. The son of a Civil War hero, he led American troops in three monumental conflicts—World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. Born four years after Little Bighorn, he died just as American forces began deploying in Vietnam. Herman’s magisterial book spans the full arc of MacArthur’s journey, from his elevation to major general at thirty-eight through his tenure as superintendent of West Point, field marshal of the Philippines, supreme ruler of postwar Japan, and beyond. More than any previous biographer, Herman shows how MacArthur’s strategic vision helped shape several decades of U.S. foreign policy. Alone among his peers, he foresaw the shift away from Europe, becoming the prophet of America’s destiny in the Pacific Rim.
Here, too, is a vivid portrait of a man whose grandiose vision of his own destiny won him enemies as well as acolytes. MacArthur was one of the first military heroes to cultivate his own public persona—the swashbuckling commander outfitted with Ray-Ban sunglasses, riding crop, and corncob pipe. Repeatedly spared from being killed in battle—his soldiers nicknamed him “Bullet Proof”—he had a strong sense of divine mission. “Mac” was a man possessed, in the words of one of his contemporaries, of a “supreme and almost mystical faith that he could not fail.” Yet when he did, it was on an epic scale. His willingness to defy both civilian and military authority was, Herman shows, a lifelong trait—and it would become his undoing. Tellingly, MacArthur once observed, “Sometimes it is the order one disobeys that makes one famous.”
To capture the life of such an outsize figure in one volume is no small achievement. With Douglas MacArthur, Arthur Herman has set a new standard for untangling the legacy of this American legend.
Praise for Douglas MacArthur
“This is revisionist history at its best and, hopefully, will reopen a debate about the judgment of history and MacArthur’s place in history.”—New York Journal of Books
“Unfailingly evocative . . . close to an epic . . . More than a biography, it is a tale of a time in the past almost impossible to contemplate today as having taken place, with MacArthur himself as a figure perhaps too remote to understand, but all the more important to encounter.”—The New Criterion
“With Douglas MacArthur: American Warrior, the prolific and talented historian Arthur Herman has delivered an expertly rendered, compulsive
Plato came from a wealthy, connected Athenian family and lived a comfortable upper-class lifestyle until he met an odd little man named Socrates, who showed him a new world of ideas and ideals. Socrates taught Plato that a man must use reason to attain wisdom, and that the life of a lover of wisdom, a philosopher, was the pinnacle of achievement. Plato dedicated himself to living that ideal and went on to create a school, his famed Academy, to teach others the path to enlightenment through contemplation.
However, the same Academy that spread Plato’s teachings also fostered his greatest rival. Born to a family of Greek physicians, Aristotle had learned early on the value of observation and hands-on experience. Rather than rely on pure contemplation, he insisted that the truest path to knowledge is through empirical discovery and exploration of the world around us. Aristotle, Plato’s most brilliant pupil, thus settled on a philosophy very different from his instructor’s and launched a rivalry with profound effects on Western culture.
The two men disagreed on the fundamental purpose of the philosophy. For Plato, the image of the cave summed up man’s destined path, emerging from the darkness of material existence to the light of a higher and more spiritual truth. Aristotle thought otherwise. Instead of rising above mundane reality, he insisted, the philosopher’s job is to explain how the real world works, and how we can find our place in it. Aristotle set up a school in Athens to rival Plato’s Academy: the Lyceum. The competition that ensued between the two schools, and between Plato and Aristotle, set the world on an intellectual adventure that lasted through the Middle Ages and Renaissance and that still continues today.
From Martin Luther (who named Aristotle the third great enemy of true religion, after the devil and the Pope) to Karl Marx (whose utopian views rival Plato’s), heroes and villains of history have been inspired and incensed by these two master philosophers—but never outside their influence.
Accessible, riveting, and eloquently written, The Cave and the Light provides a stunning new perspective on the Western world, certain to open eyes and stir debate.
Praise for The Cave and the Light
“A sweeping intellectual history viewed through two ancient Greek lenses . . . breezy and enthusiastic but resting on a sturdy rock of research.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Examining mathematics, politics, theology, and architecture, the book demonstrates the continuing relevance of the ancient world.”—Publishers Weekly
“A fabulous way to understand over two millennia of history, all in one book.”—Library Journal
“Entertaining and often illuminating.”—The Wall Street Journal
From Nazism to the Sixties counterculture, from Britain's Fabian socialists to America's multiculturalists, and from Dracula and Freud to Robert Bly and Madonna, this work examines the idea of decline in Western history and sets out to explain how the conviction of civilization's inevitable end has become a fixed part of the modern Western imagination. Through a series of biographical portraits spanning the 19th and 20th centuries, the author traces the roots of declinism and aims to show how major thinkers of the past and present, including Nietzsche, DuBois, Sartre, and Foucault, have contributed to its development as a coherent ideology of cultural pessimism.
They were born worlds apart: Winston Churchill to Britain’s most glamorous aristocratic family, Mohandas Gandhi to a pious middle-class household in a provincial town in India. Yet Arthur Herman reveals how their lives and careers became intertwined as the twentieth century unfolded. Both men would go on to lead their nations through harrowing trials and two world wars—and become locked in a fierce contest of wills that would decide the fate of countries, continents, and ultimately an empire.
Gandhi & Churchill reveals how both men were more alike than different, and yet became bitter enemies over the future of India, a land of 250 million people with 147 languages and dialects and 15 distinct religions—the jewel in the crown of Britain’s overseas empire for 200 years.
Over the course of a long career, Churchill would do whatever was necessary to ensure that India remain British—including a fateful redrawing of the entire map of the Middle East and even risking his alliance with the United States during World War Two.
Mohandas Gandhi, by contrast, would dedicate his life to India’s liberation, defy death and imprisonment, and create an entirely new kind of political movement: satyagraha, or civil disobedience. His campaigns of nonviolence in defiance of Churchill and the British, including his famous Salt March, would become the blueprint not only for the independence of India but for the civil rights movement in the U.S. and struggles for freedom across the world.
Now master storyteller Arthur Herman cuts through the legends and myths about these two powerful, charismatic figures and reveals their flaws as well as their strengths. The result is a sweeping epic of empire and insurrection, war and political intrigue, with a fascinating supporting cast, including General Kitchener, Rabindranath Tagore, Franklin Roosevelt, Lord Mountbatten, and Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. It is also a brilliant narrative parable of two men whose great successes were always haunted by personal failure, and whose final moments of triumph were overshadowed by the loss of what they held most dear.
How did two men move the world away from wars for land and treasure to wars over ideas and ideologies—a change that would go on to kill millions?
In April 1917, Woodrow Wilson—champion of American democracy but also of segregation, advocate for free trade and a new world order based on freedom and justice—thrust the United States into the First World War in order to make the “world safe for democracy”—only to see his dreams for a liberal international system dissolve into chaos, bloodshed, and betrayal.
That October, Vladimir Lenin—communist revolutionary and advocate for class war and “dictatorship of the proletariat”—would overthrow Russia’s earlier democratic revolution that had toppled the powerful czar, all in the name of liberating humanity—and instead would set up the most repressive totalitarian regime in history, the Soviet Union.
In this incisive, fast-paced history, the New York Times bestselling author Arthur Herman brilliantly reveals how Lenin and Wilson rewrote the rules of modern geopolitics. Prior to and through the end of World War I, countries marched into war only to advance or protect their national interests. After World War I, countries began going to war over ideas. Together Lenin and Wilson unleashed the disruptive ideologies that would sweep the world, from nationalism and globalism to Communism and terrorism, and that continue to shape our world today.
Our new world disorder is the legacy left by Wilson and Lenin, and their visions of the perfectibility of man. One hundred years later, we still sit on the powder keg they first set the detonator to, through war and revolution.
From a New York Times best-selling historian and Pulitzer Prize finalist, a sweeping epic of how the Vikings and their descendants have shaped history and America
Scandinavia has always been a world apart. For millennia Norwegians, Danes, Finns, and Swedes lived a remote and rugged existence among the fjords and peaks of the land of the midnight sun. But when they finally left their homeland in search of opportunity, these wanderers—including the most famous, the Vikings—would reshape Europe and beyond. Their ingenuity, daring, resiliency, and loyalty to family and community would propel them to the gates of Rome, the steppes of Russia, the courts of Constantinople, and the castles of England and Ireland. But nowhere would they leave a deeper mark than across the Atlantic, where the Vikings’ legacy would become the American Dream.
In The Viking Heart, Arthur Herman melds a compelling historical narrative with cutting-edge archaeological and DNA research to trace the epic story of this remarkable and diverse people. He shows how the Scandinavian experience has universal meaning, and how we can still be inspired by their indomitable spirit.