The Scottish Nation

This month I’m only going to make one suggestion. It is Tom Devine’s ( monumental 720 page history of Scotland – ‘The Scottish Nation. As I write there are 23 days to the referendum which will decide if Scotland remains in a union with the rest of the UK. This will unquestionably be the most historic and far reaching ballot that any of us will take part in. It’s a moment in history. It’s a deal breaker. Not all of what you read in here will have a direct bearing on your choice, but none of it can do any harm in gaining an immensely rich ‘long view’ of how we got from 1700 to the present day in our ‘wee bit hill and glen’. Even if you only read some of the later chapters on nineteenth and twentieth century history, please do read Tom Devine.

Here are some plaudits from bigger beasts than I.

‘Outstanding … if you are after answers to the big questions of Scottish history, Devine is your man’   Niall Ferguson

‘Magnificent … a high achievement, a history of modern Scotland which, rarely for the subject, endows with sweep and power the changes that have created the country we live in’  Michael Fry, The Herald

‘The work of a compendious historical mind … the first history of Scotland which both a nationalist and a unionist Scot can keep on their shelves with pride, and that is a large achievement in itself’   John Lloyd, Financial Times

‘A formidable work … quite remarkable’   Donald Dewar

‘A fiercely intelligent account of Scotland … Devine is the country’s most prominent historian, and from the evidence of this book, rightly so’   Rosemary Goring, Scotland on Sunday


As a treat and to hear the voice of Tom Devine, listen to the R4 ‘In Our Time‘ 45 minute podcast at the link Also features Karen O’Brien, Reader in English and American Literature at the University of Warwick; Alexander Broadie, Professor of Logic and Rhetoric at the University of Glasgow.


Penguin paperback 720 pages

ISBN 978-0140230048

Tom Devine

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