Angus Mcfarlane's Reviews > Scotland: The Story of a Nation

Scotland by Magnus Magnusson
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's review
Aug 16, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: history, reviewed

Little did I know that the history of Scotland would be as fascinating, if not moreso, than 'English' history. Indeed, would England have been the nation it was if not for Scotland (and wales, ans Ireland, perhaps)? As might be expecte ethos stretches from the early celts through the Norse influences to the more modern history made famous by Wallace, the Stewart's and rob Roy, through to the devolution to a Scottish parliament, although the detailed story finishes at the battle of culloden in 1745. I was surprised at how tragic the scots fate has been through the medieval period, with heir after heir dying too young, and the resulting successions weakening the nation and inflicting suffering on the people through external or internal powermongers. Subjugation under Edward was a near thing, but the independence attributed to Wallace's rebellion eventually allowed a scots king to become the English (British) monarch (ironically). My feeling is that the independence of different groups choosing to work together (nations in this case) allows greater strength that more than compensates for the inevitable complexity and confusion on such arrangements. Certainly the distinctiveness of the scots has contributed much to Britain and the world at large, although whether this would have come about without independence is speculative (although interesting!)
Although it meant a lot to the author and locals, the references to various locations was a little off putting, but brief enough to move on from quickly. I would have liked to know more about the migration history of scots, particularly those who moved to australia ancestors did. However, these gripes are items of personal taste for me and I think the book captures well the brod thrust of Scottish history from which I am confident provides an excellent context in which to understand my ancestors stories before and after their migration.

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