I asked for and received permission
from our Editor to interview the author of our current book under review,
The Scottish 100. I contacted Mr. Bruce at his home in New
York City and, in the process of several emails and a couple of letters,
he was kind enough to share information about his book and to answer some
questions about Scotland in general. I wish to thank Mr. Bruce for his
patience while dealing with this writer.
did you come to name the book The Scottish 100? I study a
book’s bibliography, and when I noticed Shapiro’s The Jewish 100,
I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a connection.
are right. My former publisher, Birch Lane Press, had already published "The
100", "The Black 100", and "The Jewish 100". I suggested
my book, and it was immediately accepted.
you know all of the Scotsmen over your thirty years of personal study, or
did some friends suggest some of the 110 for your consideration?
asked people to help and make suggestions…It takes a long time (thirty
years in my case) to get that perspective.
did you come to leave off Montrose, Bonnie Prince Charlie, George Bernard
Shaw or Nigel Tranter?
George Bernard Shaw, as far as I could find out, had some definite
Scottish ancestry, but maybe not enough for me…After 1707, when Scots
could emigrate anywhere in the British Empire, the clans began to break
up. The Industrial Revolution needed workers. Culloden just hastened the
end of the clans. The clan system was outmoded and near collapse when
Charlie came, I believe. Yes, Montrose was one of the greatest soldiers,
and Nigel Tranter one of the best writers. But what was their influence
outside of Britain (and in the case of Tranter, the Scottish diaspora? I
was looking for people who influenced everyone. How many Americans, not of
Scottish descent, have ever heard of Tranter? And remember, for everyone
you want to put in the 100, you have to take one out!
List some left off your list you have been asked about and name the next
15 not in the book.
haven’t been asked much about whom I left out, but you asked me to name
the next 15. Without ancestry checks, I could nominate Malcolm Forbes,
James Whyte Black (who developed beta blockers), Don Budge (first tennis
player to win the Grand Slam), Colin Campbell (Lord Clyde), Sir James
George Frazer (who studied all of the world’s religions), Francis Jeffrey
(editor of the Edinburgh Review, which influenced Jefferson and
others), William Holmes McGuffey (who sold over 100 million books teaching
the young), President James Monroe (of the Monroe Doctrine), James
Beaumont Nielson (who revolutionized steel-making), James Clark Ross
(explorer who claimed Antarctica for Britain and discovered the North
magnetic pole), Robert W. Service (who sold more poems than any poet in
the 20th century), Thomas Telford (who practically founded
civil engineering), James Young (who founded the petroleum industry), John
Loudon McAdam (who revolutionized road construction and caused the word
tarmac to be used), and perhaps Neil Armstrong.
education the main reason the vast majority of the 100 came from the
Education was one thing that favored the Lowlands, but also consider that
the Lowlands had most of the people and, therefore, most of the talent.
Also, cities attract talent. If a born artist is brought forth in Wyoming
(as was Jackson Pollock), he is likely to end up in New York (as did
Pollock). It is the same in Scotland. Many of the 100 are of Highland
ancestry, but they or their parents went south to use their abilities.
Please comment on the intriguing and interesting statement in your book
that "a feeling of brotherhood with the Jews was a common idea among Scots
and Presbyterians throughout the English-speaking world."
glad you picked up my comments about the Scottish affinity with the Jews.
It is important to me as my wife is of Jewish descent and, therefore, my
daughters are also. I got my first look at this from my Highland immigrant
grandmother who, with my grandfather, founded a Presbyterian church in
Johnstown, PA. I call my grandmother the only true Christian I have ever
known, and she taught me, on her knee, about what good the Jews had done
and how wrong the Nazi persecution was…but the main point is that The
National Covenant made the Scots a covenanted people like the Jews. It was
an agreement with God between Him and a particular people (see page 301).
The Scots thought of themselves as the New Israel. David Daiches, a
prominent Scottish Jew, has pointed out that Scotland is the only country
where there has never been a serious anti-Jewish act. Besides, there are
the achievers. Many people think that the Scots and the Jews have
contributed the most, at least per capita, to the progress of
civilization. Study! Work! Save! These apply to both groups. Someone told
me that the average Jewish-American has two years of graduate school. The
U.S. Census says that Scottish-Americans have the highest level of
education of any national group.
the many awards you have received, which one is the most significant to
haven’t received many awards and have no favorite. I wish someone would
give me an honorary doctorate, since I have no time to get one the regular
often do you travel to Scotland? What are your favorite places to visit?
What one place do you go back to time and again? What one thing would you
recommend a first-time visitor to Scotland not to miss?
have been to Scotland about 12 times. I prefer to go to Argyll where I
have relatives. The one thing in Scotland that should not be missed is the
display of the crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny. They are the soul of
our ancestors. Every time I see them, I need a Kleenex.
With your background in business and economy, do you see the UK eventually
joining the European Union? How would you contrast the 1707 Act of Union
to this possible European Union today? Do you see a possible loss of
independence or identity for the UK if Blair should take his country into
politics of Scotland are not for me. I have no vote. But I must say that I
have always been in favor of a Scottish Parliament, and now we have it. If
1707 were to be redone, England and Scotland would, I believe, both keep
their respective parliaments and would create a new one for the United
Kingdom…I believe that most Scots thought, and still think, that the union
was positive. I certainly do. Before 1707, the Scots had no great stage to
play on. Look what they did on that stage! Whether the country is to be
independent is up to the voters, not to me.
What will be the subject of your next book?
don’t know if there will be a next book. I am getting tired. It is
interesting, though, how the world works. It took me 25 years to sell the
first book; two phone calls to sell the second; and now a publisher is
buying me lunch! I have enjoyed this exercise.