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  • Born Fighting

  • How the Scots-Irish Shaped America
  • By: Jim Webb
  • Narrated by: Allan Robertson
  • Length: 13 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (9 ratings)

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Summary

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 five 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.

©2004 Jim Webb (P)2015 ListenUp Production, LLC

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  • wbiro
  • 26-11-17

Engaging if You Have Any Scots-Irish in You

I have around 1/6, so the book was engaging for me. Curious how a people can be embodied by a mindset rather than physical features, here a mindset of total independence, which, the book illustrated, both worked for them and at times against them. Half the book is prior to America, which for me was more fascinating, my not being as familiar with those times, people, and places.

3 people found this helpful

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  • CG
  • 25-02-19

American Mindset - from Scots-Irish Immigrants

An ethnic group that assimilates so well it's identity is melded into a new continent of people as a whole. It was easy to stay focused & learn. These are a people that value truth above all.

2 people found this helpful

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  • TR
  • 10-12-17

Wonderful, informative, compelling book!

The author does an outstanding job of clearly laying out Scot-Irish history. Never boring, always enlightening!

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  • Jerry Miller
  • 31-07-17

Terrific

If you have Scots Irish heritage or an interest in the same, this is a must read. You will not be disappointed.

2 people found this helpful

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  • John M. ONeal
  • 10-11-20

Blarney at it's best and worst.

This is first-rate Scotch-Irish/Gaelic propaganda/patriotic theater with an American twist. It reminds me of the the charge that one gets from attending a “Dropkick Murphys” concert, where the show begins by dimming the lights and playing a recording of the tragic Irish Ballad regarding the 1916 Easter Rising called “The Foggy Dew” by “The Chieftans” and Sinéad O’Connor and which would cause the audience — largely made up of Proud Gaelic individuals — to not only grow quiet, but become deeply emotional. As soon as the haunting and powerful song would come to an end, the “Dropkick Murphys” themselves would explode out on stage while playing fast-paced Gaelic themed fight songs and ballads backed by loud electric guitars, drums, raspy choruses, and powerful bagpipes. The ultimate result being that one gets caught up in an uplifting emotional experience for two to three hours that leaves one feeling that I am Irish and damn proud of it, so you better not mess with me.

James Webb goes a step further in this book and attempts to evoke strong feelings about being both Scotch and Irish, thus tying them neatly together with literary themed smoke and mirrors combined with a whole array of historically based footnotes. It seems like Webb should have probably stuck to writing a Historical Novel about several generations of Scotch-Irish, who come to America and change the direction of the New Nation one Gaelic proud descendant at a time, but he chose instead — disappointingly I feel — to attache his own biased feelings, thoughts, and projections onto this distorted non-fiction book. As the sea of Scotch-Irish arrive in America to establish their place in it and the years begin to go by, the harder Webb has to work to make the Scotch-Irish still appear to be a direct product of their Ancestors rather than about how other Americans, the Native-Americans, and other migrating cultures changed this particular group of individuals or in this case: didn’t.

Where the book really became hard to stomach and started to fall apart for me was Webb’s insistence on trying to justify the Scotch-Irish involvement with the Confederates during the Civil War. Likewise, his infatuation with the Scotch-Irish stereotypes related to fighting — thus explaining the title of the book — begins to wear thin and become more of an adolescent fantasy than fundamentally true in all cases. In addition, Webb makes the Scotch-Irish migration more important than it actually was to the development of America. For those wanting to better understand the conflicting influences that not only led to the development of the United States, but continue to divide us today; I would recommend a book along the lines of Colin Woodard’s “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.”

The more that I travel this great Nation of ours and the more I learn about my own ancestry, the more I realize that the United States and each individual in it is a complicated blend of contradictory and competing cultures that deepen and enrich the American experience rather than just hanging it on one sole migration or another. In fact, none of us arguably are from anywhere, our Ancestors were always migrating, and, though they may stay a spell in one location or another, they are always essentially just passing through, so enough with the flag waving and cultural biases that drive us all far more apart than together.

The rest of the book becomes a deeply personal biography of an interesting man with an interesting family, and Webb does a good job of making his family story touching, thought provoking, and educational. Webb is far more conservative in his leanings than I am, which was challenging to listen to. At the same time, his conservatism is backed by refreshing intelligence and insight, which — though difficult to stomach at times — kept me reading. This is not my favorite book, but one that I am glad that I finally tackled. Though I find similarities between Webb’s version of his own heritage with mine, I also came away from it feeling too that he had taken far too narrow of a view of what is essentially a diverse, contradictory, and complicated group of immigrants that seem to be defined more by their differences and their individuality than what reportedly unites them. Ultimately, Webb gets a “B” for effort, but a “C” for content.

I also have to give kudos to the narrator, Allan Robertson, who did an amazing job of presenting the text without getting in the way of it.

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  • J M Bryan Taylor
  • 29-04-19

Thought provoking

Good recounting of pre and post British Isles immigration to America. Personal history anecdotally woven in enriches the narrative.

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  • Bette Grace
  • 08-02-19

Every politician should read this

THIS is why Trump won. The mindset of the Scot-Irish that formed great county rob

3 people found this helpful

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  • E.B. Warburton
  • 21-01-21

Webb for President

Jim Webb should have, could have been President but for unfortunate accidents of timing, which couldn’t be helped, and temperament, which are explained by the Scots-Irish culture so aptly illuminated in this book.

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  • Gilbert M Elliott
  • 30-06-20

Loved the book

Loved this history of the Scot-Irish and their contribution to the formation of our country.

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  • Mickey
  • 30-03-20

Fantastic Historical Relevance

I appreciated the scholarship and research that went into this timeline of courage and tenacity found in an enduring people. That Mr. Webb wove in so much of his own family history and personal experiences, which shaped him also as a principled fighter for honor and liberty, was what made this book so meaningful to me. That he is so Jacksonian could be a point of historical debate since Jackson has some curious and contradictory history. Overall, this text could be a valuable resource for High School American History classes.