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Red Scotland!

The Rise and Fall of the Radical Left, c. 1872 to 1932

William Kenefick

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An excellent resource for teaching and learning, this book explores the rise and decline of left radicalism in Scotland c.1872 to 1932. A journey through these turbulent times observes the response of Scottish artisans to legal restrictions on trade-union activities in the 1870s, trade union formation among the unskilled from the late 1880s, and the origins and impact of the Scottish socialist movement.

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List of Tables
List of Abbreviations
1. Radical Scotland c. 1872 to 1914
Writing Labour and Social History - I: Themes and Contested Issues
2. Industrial Radicalism and the New Unionism c.1872 to 1914
3. Left Radicalism, Labour and Socialism 1872 to 1914
4. Red Scotland c. 1910 to 1932
Writing Labour and Social History - II: Themes and Contested Issues
5. Labour Unrest, 1910 to 1914
6. War Resisters and Anti-conscription
7. War and Revolution and the Scottish Working Class
8. Radicalism in Decline c.1920 to 1932
Epilogue: On Radicalism- And Exporting Scottish Left Radicalism

About the Author

William Kenefick is Lecturer in Modern Scottish History at the University of Dundee and author of Rebellious and Contrary: The Glasgow Dockers c.1853 to 1932 (East Linton, Tuckwell Press, 2000). He was co-editor of The Roots of Red Clydeside 1910 to 1914?: Labour and Industrial Unrest in West Scotland (Edinburgh, John Donald, 1996).


Kenefick covers a critically important, turbulent and frequently highly contested 60 years of Scottish labour/ radical history in an admirably clear and concise fashion. He presents a wealth of detail and tackles highly controversial topics like 'The Myth of Red Clydeside' in an exceptionally fair, thoughtful and balanced manner. Kenefick is by no means averse to presenting his own analysis of events but he is careful to present a ranges of contrary views in a fair and respectful manner - the joys of invective, editorialising and getting even with one's political/academic enemies are forgone. Kenefick is never less than professional and the further I read into his book the more impressed I became with his judgement and the more persuasive I found his arguments/analysis...... The analysis focuses on the impact of political radicalism, industrial unrest, war and the Russian revolution. The author notes that the significance of the book does not lie primarily on its original research but rather on the overall distinctiveness of his approach and conclusions... avoids the trap of Glasgowcentricity......He is also particularly strong on international events - World War I (his chapter on 'War Resisters and Anti-Conscription' is perhaps the strongest section in the book') the Russian Revolution (including some fascinating material about Scottish Leftists running guns to Russian revolutionaries in the early 1900s), and the Irish Republican struggles etc on the Scottish Left. More unusually he also examines the impact on the Scottish diaspora on political and industrial radicalism overseas......Scottish history has been colourfully, and not totally inaccurately, described as being 'one long brawl'. Kenefick has done a fine job of describing and analysing an important part of this saga - the class war in Scotland during one of its most militant and dramatic periods. He is to be commended for his effort. This is a fine book and will, I would expect, be welcomed as both a significant contribution to the field and as an excellent text book for tertiary students.
- Bill Anderson, Labour History
Kenefick’s examinations of socialism in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee give a far more complete picture of Scottish socialism than is typically afforded by popular culture and historiography.
- Matthew L. McDowell, University of Glasgow, Kelvingrove Review