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William Wallace: Man and Myth Hardcover – June 25, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Sutton Publishing; illustrated edition edition (June 25, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750923792
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750923798
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #665,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"The Wallace story is part of Scotland's imagined community.... We can't break the story because there is no story." In this densely written scholarly study, the author, a professor at Edinburgh University, examines the legends that have surrounded the exploits of William Wallace (1274-1305). Wallace is credited with liberating Scotland by defeating the English at Stirling Bridge (1297); his stature as the savior of Scotland has been reinforced by the recent film Braveheart. Later Wallace was vanquished by Edward I of England at Falkirk (1298). He lived as an outlaw and guerilla fighter until he was betrayed to the English, tried and bloodily executed in 1305. The author researched the very slim historical sources available and found problems with corroborating evidence. Much of Wallace's early reputation, for example, rested on the verse of "blind Harry," who wrote in the late 15th century. According to Morton, Harry's poetry has been romanticized and is almost certainly filled with errors. Ballads, songs and biographies of later centuries extolling Wallace's heroism are based on patriotism rather than truth. Morton also investigates how the myth of Wallace served both Scottish nationalism and socialism. In recent years the Wallace cult has grown, due to video games and Web sites. Although the author does not argue for completely abandoning national myths that cannot be proven, his hope for the Wallace mystique is that it is time to "lay his ghost to rest."

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Among recent works about Scotland's national martyr are Peter Reese's Wallace: A Biography (Interlink, 1998), James Mackay's stellar William Wallace: Brave Heart (Mainstream Pub., 1996), and the famous Hollywood film rendition by Randall Wallace (no relation). All are solidly researched and certainly entertaining, but, given that so little real evidence exists about Wallace, they are also suspect. Historians still debate the troubadouric work upon which the Wallace myth is based, and even current books, such as Nathaniel Harris's Heritage of Scotland (Checkmark, 2000), reveal little. Historiographer Morton (history, Edinburgh Univ.) is a deconstructionist at heart, referring to "invented tradition" in the first pages of the work. His early chapters can bog down in the detail of his meticulous research, but in the robustly entertaining last chapters, Morton lays waste to the entire Scottish tourist industry as well as to the rise of "international Scottish nationality." While this work is indeed about Wallace and myth, it is as much about the whole tourist-heritage link. Morton unearths loony tourist brochure mistakes and equally gaga "Wallace.com" web sites. He is, however, generous to authors like Mackay. Historians will laud this book; Braveheart fans will be enraged. Highly recommended for all academic and larger public libraries. Gail Benjafield, St. Catharine's P.L., Ont.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ms. V. Hoyle on October 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
First of all, Graeme Morton's book is NOT a biography. If you're seeking a biography, there are several on the market, although I wouldn't credit any of them particularly highly.

Instead of taking the usual biographical road "William Wallace: Man and Myth" chooses to bring a vital truth to light - a biography of the actual William Wallace, as he appears in chronicles and sources contemporary to his time, would fill all of three pages. Any book purporting to be a biography of the enigmatic Scot is actually a collection of "Wallaciana" - compendeum of 700 years of reconstruction and downright fictionalisation. The truth is very simple: Wallace has become a myth almost as potent (and controversial) as Arthur, and it is this Wallace, the man made out of myth, that Graeme Morton's book sets about deconstructing.
He provides a sequence of chapters comparing the Wallace myth with a)the actual sources b)subsequent literary and cinematic adaptations (like Blind Harry's 15th century epic "Wallace" and its glory-child of the 1990's "Braveheart") c)localised/national legends of Wallace. He follows up with an analysis of why and how an obscure medieval rebel leader has become a national (and international) symbol of identity and independence, including an interesting examination of the connection between Wallace and the ex-pat Scots communities of North America.
Overall, a tolerably written study, although it lacks some relevant scholarship and, like its recent counterparts, is born out of popular Wallace history rather than academic texts. Certainly worth it for those interested in the connection between the real Wallace and the Wallace we now know.
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