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Being Scottish

Personal Reflections on Scottish Identity Today

Edited by Tom M. Devine, Paddy Logue

Paperback (Printed to Order)

The question 'who are we?' continues to perplex many Scots today. The 100 short essays in this book help to expand the debate and provide at least some of the answers. They offer an opportunity to penetrate behind the statistical surveys and explore the rich complexity of changing identity from a varied range of opinion.

The collection includes the views of people at the centre of things as well as those at the margins of society, the famous as well as the not so well known, the authoritative and mainstream as well as the idiosyncratic. It also contains a few views 'from the outside', from North America, Europe and elsewhere.

It examines the concept and experience of being Scottish at this time in history and assesses its relevance, strengths, advantages and weaknesses. It seeks to discover whether there is a special something which makes the Scottish distinctive and immediately recognisable and, if so, attempts to describe it. In short it is a snapshot of Scottish identity or, as seems to the case, the myriad Scottish identities that exist today.

Contemporary events and developments in the British Isles and the world provide the general political and social context of this collection.

These include:

  • The state of the Union
  • Devolution
  • The rise of English nationalism and the implications for Scotland
  • The debate about future British political and economic sovereignty and its relevance to Scotland
  • The lingering after-effects of the loss of Empire with its resultant crisis of identity for Scotland, a nation which played a key role in the imperial project
  • The new global world order based on the USA-declared war against terrorism in the aftermath of the events of 11 September 2001
  • However the contributors succeed in going beyond the social and political context and explore above all what it means personally to be Scottish. The reader may be surprised at the insights contained in this book. Some contributors delve into their personal histories or their sense of place to give meaning to their identities. Others deal in political and cultural realities, and many rely on storytelling, humour and lyricism to approach a tentative sense of identity upwind. Honesty, courage and humour are not lacking in these stories, which give us the chance to reflect on the experience of being Scottish in the opening years of the 21st century.

    Includes contributions from:

    • Leila Aboulela
    • Craig Brown
    • Tam Dalyell
    • Isla Dewar
    • Donald Findlay
    • Tom Hunter
    • Charles Kennedy
    • Phyllida Law
    • Helen Liddell
    • Bridget McConnell
    • Jack McConnell
    • Margo MacDonald
    • Sheila McLean
    • David McLetchie
    • Bashir Maan
    • Hugh Pennington
    • Susan Rice
    • Alex Salmond
    • T. C. Smout
    • David Steel
    • John Swinney
    • David Steel
    • Gregor Townsend
    • Jim Wallace
    • Irvine Welsh


Introduction: Tom Devine and Paddy Logue
Leila Aboulela
Ginnie Atkinson
Alan Bain
Euan Baird
Ann Bardsley
Mary Beith
Margaret Bennett
Alan Bissett
Ronnie Black
Sheena Blackhall
Vivian Bone
Alison Bowden
Sheila Brock
Craig Brown
Steve Bruce
Duke of Buccleuch
Angus Calder
Owen Campbell
Eddie Clark
Robert Crawford
Tam Dalyell
Fauzia Davidson
Isla Dewar
Owen Dudley Edwards
Kevin Dunion
Donald Findlay
Simon Frith
Sandy Grant Gordon
David Greig
Robin Harper
Chris Harvie
Gerry Hassan
Joy Hendry
Richard Holloway
Hamish Horsburgh
Tom Hunter
Billy Kay
Charles Kennedy
Mark Kennedy
Lord Laird
Phyllida Law
Helen Liddell
Baroness Linklater
Mairi MacArthur
Bridget McConnell
Jack McConnell
John McCormick
Neil MacCormick
Mukami McCrum
Finlay Macdonald
Margo MacDonald
John McGurk
Ian MacKenzie
Sheila McLean
David McLetchie
Duncan MacMillan
Douglas McNaughton
Kevin MacNeil
Bashir Maan
Susie Maguire
Martin Mansergh
Alex Massie
Donald Meek
Steven Osborne
Anna Paterson
Don Paterson
Lindsay Paterson
Norman Pender
Hugh Pennington
Robina Qureshi
Selma Ragman
Harry Reid
Susan Rice
Kat Roberts
Kenneth Roy
Trevor Royle
Mike Russell
Suhayl Saadi
Alex Salmond
T. C. Smout
Bill Speirs
David Steel
Stewart Sutherland
John Swinney
Alan Taylor
Brian Taylor
Gregor Townsend
Kirsty Walker
Jim Wallace
Charles Warren
Mike Watson
Irvine Welsh
Kevin Williamson
Ruth Wishart
Kenyon Wright
Mel Young
Postcript: Tom Devine.

About the Author

T. M. Devine is Sir William Fraser Professor Emeritus of Scottish History and Palaeography at the University of Edinburgh. Author and editor of many books on Scottish history and related subjects, he is a Fellow of the British Academy, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and an Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy. In 2014 he was knighted for services to the study of Scottish history and he is the only historian to have been awarded the Royal Gold Medal, Scotland's supreme academic accolade, by the HM The Queen on the recommendation of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Paddy Logue works in the European Union Irish Peace Programme. A former Catholic priest (1966-1970) and Classics Master (1971-1973) he has worked for many years in community development in Liverpool, London and Derry as well as campaigning for civil and human rights in Northern Ireland. Previous publications include Them and Us (Columba Press, Dublin, 1994), The Border (Oaktree Press, Dublin, 1999) and Being Irish (Oaktree Press, 2000).


This book is fascinating … an essential read.