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Nation and Nationalism

by Alistair McCleery

Neil M. Gunn is recognized as one of the most important Scottish novelists of the 20th century, but less well known is his role in the development of modern Scottish nationalism. He was instrumental in the founding of the Scottish National Party, although his view of nationalism was likely more about "the preservation of a living culture than about pure politics." This collection of essays on Gunn's involvement in politics and his ideas about nation and nationalism is of interest to both readers of his novels and those interested in contemporary political developments in Scotland -- and a timely book for everyone trying to better understand Scottish nationalism in the months before the independence vote.

The Magic of Words Humorous and Serious

by James A. Simpson

For 21 years Dr. James A. Simpson was minister of Dornoch Cathedral in the Scottish Highlands, while also serving as captain of the Royal Dornoch Golf Club. In 1992 he was appointed chaplain to the Queen in Scotland and two years later he was elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Throughout that time, he has been much in demand as an after-dinner speaker and his latest book is a collection of stories and anecdotes that not only amuse, illuminate and lift the spirits, but also provide insight into the unique Scottish sense of humor. These great slices of humor combined with more serious reflections make for an engaging mix.

A Glasgow Mosaic: Cultural Icons of the City

by Ian R Mitchell

For a traveler wanting to get off the beaten path, Ian Mitchell has just the right solution. From public art to socialist memorials, and from factories to cultural hubs, the author has put together of series of unusual walking tours past Glasgow's forgotten icons, while offering a broad view of the city's industrial, social and intellectual history.

 

The Highland Clans

by Alistair Moffat

Alistair Moffat traces the history of the clans from their Celtic origins to the beginning of their end at the fateful Battle at Culloden in 1746. The author presents compelling stories of great leaders and famous battles as well as accounts of an extraordinary people, shaped by the unique traditions and landscape of the Highlands of Scotland. "A brisk and accessible guide to a thousand years of reiving and rivalry in the Highlands," said The Scotsman newspaper of Edinburgh.

 

The Scottish Nation: A Modern History

by T. M. Devine

This coming September, Scotland will go to the polls and vote to either become independent or to stay within the Union of the United Kingdom. Professor Tom Devine of the Centre for Scottish and Irish History at the University of Aberdeen calls it "the greatest constitutional decision for the country since the Treaty of Union in 1707," and he sets out to show the long path Scotland has followed to this moment -- or in his words, "to present a coherent account of Scotland's past with the hope of developing a better understanding of the Scottish present." This sweeping work examines the development of Scotland from the 18th century to (in this latest edition) the ascension of the Scottish National Party to power in 2011 and its referendum on independence -- examining the social, political, religious and economic factors that have shaped modern Scotland.

Lost Inverness

by Norman S. Newton

Using the resources of the Highland Archives, Highland Libraries, Am Baile and Highland Museums, Lost Inverness creates a memorable record of a missing urban landscape, from the speculative sites of Pictish forts and Macbeth's castle, to Queen Mary's house and the old suspension bridge below Inverness Castle, itself blown up by the Jacobites in 1746 and replaced by the 1830s prison and courthouse. Norman S. Newton traces the lost architectural history of the capital of the Highlands from prehistory through modern times, describing how the medieval town was swept away by Victorians and replaced with many fine buildings, only to have many of those lost to post-World War II "improvements."

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Full reviews of these books are available in the Summer 2014 issue of Scottish Life.

Previously Reviewed Books