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Michael Fry here applies his uniquely wide-ranging procedures of Scottish historical analysis to the eighteenth century, which gave this small nation its one era of truly global significance. He adds: ‘Never again was it to be so exemplary: unless, perhaps, in the twenty-first century.’
In his journey from the Union of 1707 to its centenary and beyond, Fry takes in vivid scenes from all over the country, ranging up and down the social scale from peeresses to prostitutes, from lairds to lunatics, and covering every major aspect of national life from agriculture to philosophy. Most other Scottish histories published in recent times concentrate on social and economic history, but Fry insists that any true understanding of the nation, in the past as in the present, needs to pay at least as much attention to politics and culture.
The social history and the economic history show us how Scotland was integrated into Britain. The political history and the cultural history show us why the integration was never complete. In this book readers will see both sides surveyed. In that way they will come also to understand how the nation’s rebirth in our own day remains possible.