So, a few weeks ago, I was invited to meet a couple of pastors for lunch and fellowship at Calvary Chapel Crystal River in Florida. While we were there, we toured the U-Turn Ranch they have established, and the nearby Thrift Store that is part of that ministry.
I’m a sucker for the book section at Thrift Stores and that’s where I spotted this book.
It was fascinating. The author charts the history of the Scots-Irish people from Scotland at the time of the Roman Empire when they built Hadrian’s wall all the way to the present day. What I didn’t know is that all of that redneck, hillbilly, good-ol’boy, mountain people, country people can be traced back to these Scots-Irish people and their culture.
The author’s premise, is that it’s this culture, shaped by the events starting with the Romans, through the English kings, through the migration to Ireland and the Ulster plantation and eventually to the Appalachian Mountains is the dominant culture that shaped the United States.
When he gets to the American Revolution, his argument begins to take shape, how it was this culture, patriotic, independent, yet able to organize into effective fighters was the main driver of the revolution. It was the soft, aristocratic, educated, plantation owners on the coasts that gave the intellectual reasoning, but these guys got the job done.
Andrew Jackson was the quintessential product of this culture and made the biggest impact as president. He stands in the same line as William Wallace.
I appreciated the time the author took to describe the Civil War from the perspective of families and people from this culture. That story is not often told.
And, then the author finished the book by describing his own parents and grandparents. These are incredible stories and represent many of the experiences of many Americans.
A more recent, and more emotional rendering of this culture is “Hillbilly Elegy” by JD Vance. They made a movie of that book that in my opinion doesn’t capture the full story. I think every pastor in America should read that book.
If you’re short on American history, and like me, weren’t paying attention at all in high school, this book will help you get up to speed pretty quickly, no matter what part of the country you are in.