The Scottish Empire
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Illustrated: over 100 illustrations
ISBN: 1 86232 185 X
The Scottish Empire charts the imperial involvements of Scots from early times to the end of the twentieth century. This external history of the nation reflects its internal history, not least in a tendency towards opposite extremes. It is a tale of dramatic incidents and craggy characters, of the Scotsí concern with education, evangelism and philanthropy but also with their spying, swindles and drug-running. It tells of Scottish regiments on the rampage and in humiliation, of savages eating missionaries and of colonists committing atrocities. It runs from heroic Christian pioneers such as David Livingstone and Mary Slessor to hot-blooded compatriots who had other encounters with alien cultures: William Gladstone (an English statesman but also a Liverpudlian Scot) who hit a Greek bishop on the chin, the Earl of Elgin who burned the Summer Palace in Peking, and many more.
Throughout his book Michael Fry takes care to connect the colourful external history with the more humdrum realities of the internal history, but especially with the continuing development of the Scottish intellect which has done so much to keep the idea of the nation alive. What emerges is a history also of Scotlandís precarious place in the world, from hard-fought independence to uncertain Union, from deceptive imperialism to self-government now seeking its definitive form. No other small nation can boast such wealth of experience to face the uncertainties of the future.
Author: Michael Fry is active in three aspects of modern Scotland: politics, journalism and scholarship. He is a columnist for the Herald in Glasgow and has written for many other newspapers in Britain and abroad. He is the author of works on the political, religious and intellectual history of Scotland, and the biographer of Henry Dundas.