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Scotland: The Story of a Nation Paperback – January 17, 2003
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Magnus Magnusson, a native of Iceland who has long lived in and written about Scotland, may spoil it for some readers when he writes that Wallace's Sword probably wasn't Wallace's. To use it, Wallace would have had to have stood at least 6-foot-6 in height and to have lived two centuries later. The business of the sword is just one of the "cherished conceptions" about Scottish history that Magnusson picks apart and then, corrected and improved, restores. At other turns he considers the true identity of the legendary king Macbeth (and entertains some surprising but plausible theories about the king's alter ego); reconstructs decisive battles such as Otterburn, Flodden, and Glencoe; and looks closely at the complicated negotiations (and, many would say, treacheries) that led to the union with England of 1707. Magnusson closes with an account of modern independence movements and the recent return of some measure of national autonomy, opening a "new chapter in a nation's story, which the people of Scotland are now beginning to write."
Lucid, witty, and unafraid of controversy, Magnusson's book does a fine job of condensing a complex history, stretching out for 10 millennia, into a single volume. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The story begins with a description of how the distinctive terrain of the land evolved. The craggy shoreline, outlying islands and Highland hills were key factors in who came to live in Scotland and what they had to do to defend it, starting with Scotland's first tribes. Mr. Magnusson gives a lively account of the Picts, Scots, Gaels and Britons who skirmished among themselves until they banded together to fight Viking invaders from the north and, later, Roman invaders from the south. Scotland has always seen its share of warfare, largely from England. Independence from England has been a constant struggle for Scotland and recounting its battles introduces a wealth of fascinating characters from William Wallace (whose adventures and sorry ending readers may remember from the film Braveheart) through the unlucky Stewarts. We also meet the real-life MacBeth; his chapter details his ill-starred rise to power and notes the differences between the actual history and the story we all know from Shakespeare's play.
However, if there is a literary figure that serves as an illuminating spirit for SCOTLAND: The Story of a Nation, that person must be Sir Walter Scott. One of Scotland's most successful novelists, with twenty-seven historical romances concerning Scotland to his credit, he wrote a history of Scotland and dedicated it to his grandson. Excerpts from TALES OF A GRANDFATHER begin every chapter of SCOTLAND and Mr.Read more ›
I especially enjoyed the chapters on the Romans in Scotland, William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, and Bonnie Prince Charlie.
I was a little upset as to the lack of information about the enlightenment in Scotland. But other than that, this was a great book.
It was very readable, with new information, and some great quotes.
This was a great book, I wished it had more, but none the less, it was a great purchase and time well spent.
The book is inspired by, and consistently references, Sir Walter Scott and his own Scottish history. It works very well, using Scott's work as a launching point, both complementing it and critiquing it. After working through the 1745 rising, Magnusson brought the story full circle by dedicating a touching chapter to Scott himself.
Then came the epilogue. Magnusson ran roughshod over 200 years of history, choosing only to stop and dwell on unsuccessful and largely forgettable movements to regain Scottish "independence." Industrial revolution? Moving on. War years? Meh. On the other hand, Magnusson lauded the machinations of various Marxist agitators, and could barely conceal his glee with such puerile episodes as the theft of the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey. It was like listening to an old hippie waxing sentimental about the Weathermen while sipping Opus One in his McMansion.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is full of information. If you love history, then this book is a must read.Published 1 month ago by GM Ortiz
I have truly enjoyed reading this book. It flows very well and covers parts of the history of Scotland and the United Kingdom in general that I never came across in an American... Read morePublished 2 months ago by shoshanna payne
I have read other books on aspects of the history of Scotland (some can be tedious and unbalanced). This is by far the best. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is a wonderful book. Having come from the Wallace Clan, I wanted to especially read about the period of William Wallace...I believe Scot DNA is very different. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Ann Telling
I have read this book, well parts of it anyway once or twice; and I can tell you that you may never find a more helpful history of scotland anywhere at any time. Read morePublished 4 months ago by W.K.G
Wonderful book! Easy to read , a very good introduction to the Scottish history.Published 5 months ago by Pailin Gordon
It was described to me as a simple overview of the Nation, this 1- 1/2" tomb is not a quick read. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Joan H
Excellent, engaging, inciteful - I read this book before and during a 2 week trip to Scotland. Many of the Scottish friends that I made while there knew about Magnusson and... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Daniel Fletcher