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Very readable one volume history of a “nation of storytellers”, a people who hold their literary and oral traditions close to their hearts. Magnusson begins the story in ancient Scotland (before there were any "Scots" in it), moves into semimythic figures like Macbeth and Wallace, and then to the modern era of union with England and revived Scottish nationalism. By starting each chapter with a lively excerpt from an earlier Scottish history, Sir Walter Scott's Tales of a Grandfather, the author gives his work a charming storybook feel.
Fascinating analysis of three myths that have played a central role in the historical development of Scottish identity: the political myth of the “ancient constitution” of Scotland; the literary myth, including Walter Scott as well as Ossian and ancient poetry; and the sartorial myth of tartan and the kilt, invented—ironically, by Englishmen—in quite modern times.
Yes, a comic book history of Scotland! And yes, as a quick pimer it does a remarkable job covering the political history of Scotland. The author is clearly a Scottish nationalist but that is no handicap for a book like this.
This is a very accessible general history of the Vikings by the creator of a BBC documentary also called Vikings. Oliver covers the whole sweep of Viking history, beginning with the prehistoric ancestors of the Scandinavian peoples, and builds up a picture of a society through archaeological evidence, grave goods and wall paintings. He also includes the less familiar side of the Vikings as merchants, traders and settlers. Drawing on monastic chronicles and sagas alongside more archaeology, he is able to create a very vivid picture of the Vikings both in their Scandinavian homeland and in their diaspora - Iceland, Greenland, the Scottish isles and Ireland, but also more unexpected places such as Russia and Constantinople.
Another nice, very recent survey of Viking history, this one with many great illustrations. The author is one of the foremost archaeologists of Viking culture. He does a good job covering the latest archaeological discoveries, from burials to hoards to settlements with plenty of photographs, drawings, site plans, reconstructions and maps.
The plot follows Thorfinn Ragnarson from Norday in the Orkney Islands of the 1930s. A son of a tenant farmer, Thorfinn regularly daydreams about historical fantasies. In a series of intriguing chapters, George Mackay Brown transforms Thorfinn into a Viking traveller, a freedom-fighter for Bonnie Prince Charlie and the colleague of a Falstaffian knight who participates in the Battle of Bannockburn. He is then hurled into the future as Thor, who returns to the Orkneys as an adult. Brown's lyrical descriptions and gift for local color are good at capturing the magic of the Orkneys.
Mary Guthrie, a student of English at Edinburgh University becomes fascinated by the fantastical 17th century writer, Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty and sets out to write a thesis on him. She pursues her research in his ancestral home, Cromarty House, now a crumbling ruin. There under the current laird, Sir James she is drawn into an increasingly Gothic exploration of the history of the eccentric Urquharts and the maze of tunnels beneath the House. (Goodreads)
Scotland's independence referendum on 18 September 2014 was the most significant ballot in Scotland's history. The 100 days up to 18 September was the official campaign period. In this book, David Torrance presents his reporting throughout the campaign period leading up to the referendum.
Isle of Skye
Lime Stone Cottage in Bradford, IIse of Skye, Schottland. Image by Ingo Melronke. Obtained on flickr with Creative Commons license.
Auf dem Weg von Broadford nach Portree, Schottland. Image by Ingo Melronke. Obtained on flickr with Creative Commons license.
The Old Norse Sagas
These are stories about ancient Scandinavian and Germanic history, about early Viking voyages, the battles that took place during the voyages, about migration to Iceland and of feuds between Icelandic families. They were written in the Old Norse language, in prose, mainly in Iceland. They represent one of the major contributions of Scandinavian culture to world literature. Most have been translated into English and they often read much like modern novels.
One of the longest and most famous sagas, this tells the story of a beautiful yet spiteful woman, Hallgerd, who begins a blood feud that burns for several decades between the Sigfussons and Njalssons. Njal himself being a man of law who has a close friendship with Gunnar (Hallgerd's husband) and finds himself caught up in the chain of events as they develop.
The title saga chronicles the events that led to Eirik the Red's banishment to Greenland as well as Leif Ericson's discovery of Vinland the Good (present day Newfoundland?) after his longship was blown off course. The book also contains eight shorter sagas: "Hen-Thorir," "The Vapnfjord Men," "Thorstein Staff-Struck," "Hrafnkel the Priest of Frey," "Thidrandi whom the Goddesses Slew," "Authun and the Bear," "Gunnlaug Wormtongue," "King Hrolf and his Champions."
This is the story of the life and death of Grettir, a great rebel, individualist, and outlaw. As a youth of sixteen Grettir kills a man and is outlawed; all the rest of his life he devotes, with remarkable composure, to fighting more and more formidable enemies. He becomes increasingly isolated, although he wishes to live in society, and indeed can hardly bear solitude. Driven back and forth from Iceland to Norway, harried around Iceland, he continually flees subjection and confinement only to find a perilous freedom beset both by the external hazards as well as loneliness and pride.
A 'Yes' vote in the referendum on Scottish independence would have seen the break-up of the 300-year-old British union, This book is "an accessible polemic" written for progressives both north and south of the border. It argues that independence would reinvigorate liberal efforts in a neoliberal, post-Thatcher Britain.