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Scottish History

The Power of the Past

Edited by Edward J Cowan, Richard J Finlay


This book examines the power of the past upon the present. It shows how generations of Scots have exploited and reshaped history to meet the needs of a series of presents, from the conquest of the Picts to the refounding of Parliament.

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About the Author

Edward J. Cowan, Emeritus Professor, formerly Professor of Scottish History at the University of Glasgow and Director of the university’s Dumfries Campus, previously taught at the Universities of Edinburgh and Guelph, Ontario. A fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, he is much in demand as a speaker, journalist and broadcaster and has been a Visiting Professor in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US. His most recent publications are The Wallace Book (revised edition 2010), For Freedom Alone: The Declaration of Arbroath 1320 (revised edition 2008), and Folk in Print: Scotland’s Chapbook Heritage (2007). He is currently working on a book on The Arctic Scots.

Richard J. Finlay is senior lecturer and Director of the Research Centre in Scottish History at the University of Strathclyde. He is the co-editor with T. M. Devine of Scotland in the Twentieth Century (EUP 2000) and the author of A Partnership for Good? Scottish Politics and the Union since 1880 (Canongate, 1997).


[The editors] must be congratulated on assembling an impressive range of contributors … shrewd and original … compelling … Collectively the volume constitutes a generally interesting and frequently stimulating and authoritative contribution to the analysis of Scottish history.
These essays are of a uniformly high standard… Scottish History, the Power of the Past is a fine achievement… it demonstrates the high quality of historical thought and writing in Scotland at the beginning of the twenty-first century… anyone with more than a passing interest in our history should make a point of reading it.
The chapters are consistently engaging, adding up to an unusually coherent edited volume. It is a valuable addition to the literature.
Engaging, cogently argued, and challenging.