A timely and vivid look at Scotland's long and difficult road to nationhood, re-exploring some cherished myths and unearthing a wealth of fascinating new detail. Magnus Magnusson's starting point is Sir Walter Scott's classic version of Scotland's history, 'Tales of a Grandfather' (1827-29), which has moulded the views of generations of Scottish ...
A timely and vivid look at Scotland's long and difficult road to nationhood, re-exploring some cherished myths and unearthing a wealth of fascinating new detail. Magnus Magnusson's starting point is Sir Walter Scott's classic version of Scotland's history, 'Tales of a Grandfather' (1827-29), which has moulded the views of generations of Scottish schoolchildren. Like Scott, Magnus Magnusson is a master story teller. In investigating the many questions raised by the nation's turbulent and often poignant past, he gives full weight to the living treasure of local legends and tradition which he believes has as much resonance as academic analysis. Where did the 'Scots' come from? What is the truth about such historical figures as Macbeth, William Wallace and Robert Bruce? What was the significance of the tragic reign of Mary Queen of Scots? What was the impact of Bonnie Prince Charlie and his brutal defeat at Culloden? Incorporating the findings of many leading modern historians, 'Scotland: The Story of a Nation' casts the nation's history in a fascinating new light. It is essential reading for anyone with an interest in Scotland at this pivotal moment in its history.
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Publishers Weekly, 2001-07-16 This overly heroic history of Scotland focuses almost exclusively on royalty and warfare. Loosely patterned after Sir Walter Scott's Tales of a Grandfather (1827-1829), Magnusson's (The Vikings) narrative purports to describe Scotland from the Stone Age to the present. Yet his omissions are breathtaking. What of Scotland's amazing (for its size) achievements during the European Enlightenment? Adam Smith is mentioned once, the seminal philosopher David Hume twice in passing. We're treated to a dozen pages about the Battle of Falkirk (wherein England's implacable King Edward I defeated William Wallace in 1298) and its aftermath. But Magnusson never mentions Scotland's central role in the Industrial Revolution, when Glasgow emerged as a global industrial center ("industry" isn't even listed in the index). Magnusson's narrative reads like a medieval saga, filled with swashbuckling tales of kings and battlefield heroics, leaving the reader to wonder how the average person lived. That said, he does emphasize some crucial themes in Scottish history: its constant struggle with hegemonic England, the problems of royal succession and how they led to national instability, and the bloody conflict between Church and State, especially during the reign of the Stuarts. Former chairman of the Ancient Monuments Board for Scotland, Magnusson deftly describes Scotland's geopolitical heritage. He also works hard to dispel some myths, taking particular aim at the film Braveheart and Shakespeare's Macbeth. Magnusson's critical problem, however, is that once he runs out of Scottish kings (circa 1745), he runs out of steam. Still, while hardly definitive, this is worthwhile for those with an interest in early Scottish history. Color & b&w illus. not seen by PW. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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