Published in March 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
“What on earth is going on in Scotland?” This question is eagerly asked when people find out you are Scottish. Well now there’s an answer—hand them a copy of TM Devine’s new book and say: “It’s quite complicated, but it started a while ago. Have a read of this.”
Devine, if he hadn’t already been knighted for services to Scottish history, would have been high on a list for preferment after this new work, which tells the story of Scotland from union in 1707 to the present day. Briskly, clearly and fairly, he sketches a complex and detailed history, bringing new life and fresh perspectives to old stories.
His aim was to write a history “with a commitment to impartiality, the use of representative evidence and the due respect for conflicting opinions.” This he has done brilliantly. The success of the union is well sketched. As is Scotland’s role in the British Empire—for good and ill, and the making and maintaining of a Scottish identity.