Book Preview: The Scottish Nation (Tom Devine)

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As Scotland’s most prominent historian, Tom Devine’s work is both widely read and authoritative.

Devine has crammed more than 300 years of history into this book in a beautifully lucid style.

The book itself is split into four main sections; 1700-1760, 1760-1830, 1830-1939, and 1939-2007.  Such an approach allows Devine to focus on the historical events in each period independently. Thus, the chapters concerning 1700-1760 focus on the Union and its political, economic and social affects.  Later sections focus on Scotland’s role in Empire, the Victorian period, Religion and Demography (1830-1939), Scottish Nationalism and the quest for Devolution (1939-2007) among many other subjects.

However, Devine’s work is at its most vibrant when he is discussing the ‘transformation of Scotland’ between 1760-1830.  This is the period in which Scotland’s rural society began to be eroded only to be transformed into a nation of urban dwellers, working in the factories of Scotland’s burgeoning industrial base.  Add to this period such events such as the Highland Clearances, the Disruption, and the mass influx of the Irish to Scotland make this period one the most exciting for historical research.  Devine himself admits that this period is the main focus of his book.

The Scottish Nation: 1700-2007 is required reading for everyone with an interest in modern Scottish history since an understanding of Scotland since Union is essential in understanding Scotland as it is today. Devine’s authority as a historian is beyond reproach.

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