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Stone Voices


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This is the story of Neal Ascherson's return to his native Scotland. It is an exploration of Scottish identity as Ascherson weaves together a story of the deep past with the story of modern Scotland and its rebirth.

About the Author

Neal Ascherson was born in Edinburgh in 1932. Sustaining a long career in journalism, he has written for The Observer (1960-1990) and the Independent on Sunday (1990-1998). He contributed scripts for the 1974 documentary series World at War and the 1998 series The Cold War. More recently, he has been a regular contributor to the London Review of Books. His own books include The Polish August (1981), Black Sea (1995) and Stone Voices (2002).


Journalist and historian Ascherson (Black Sea, The King Incorporated) takes a close look at his native country-its history, its landscape, its populace, its aspirations for independence-in this richly textured portrait of a nation "at home in hard, stony times." For many, thanks to Braveheart, Scotland may conjure images of William Wallace crying freedom. But Hollywood drama aside, Ascherson's examination of Scottish movements for sovereignty, both political and cultural, and Scots' concerns for equality and popular rights during their turbulent history show how such a spirit rings true today. Culminating with the passage of the referendum establishing Scotland's first modern Parliament, Ascherson's account offers vivid scenes from the author's cross-country promotional campaign and intimate details of a nation's doubts and faith in the face of great political change. Ascherson investigates the elements that have shaped Scotland's oft-debated history as he meets them face to face, including emigration, religious and racial intolerance, regionalist feuds and influences, bilingualism and the abundant interpretations and reinterpretations of what is considered "authentic" history. Ascherson also pays close attention to the Scottish geology-with its shallow, wind-thrashed soil and barren, boulder-filled valleys-that makes it a beautiful but difficult land for its people to inhabit. An enlightening read, Ascherson's volume will encourage readers to attend to Scotland's future, as well as to the forces that affect their own freedoms. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

This is a unique book. While not a standard history that follows a time frame, it is a thorough examination of select aspects of Scotland's history, with a particular emphasis on the politics. Ascherson (Black Sea), who writes for the Independent in London, blends extensive research with his personal experiences to form an analysis of his homeland that spans centuries and covers such issues as archaeology, anthropology, and varying social highlights. Whether he is discussing the country's landscape, past demography, and changes in immigration or re-creating his 1997 back-country bus expedition during the referendum campaign that led to the country's new Parliament, Ascherson consistently delivers insightful anecdotes and glimpses into the country's formation and its people. Because this work is intended for serious academics or those with a sound foundation in Scottish history and politics rather than lay readers looking for light entertainment, it is most appropriate for scholarly collections.-Jo-Anne Mary Benson, Osgoode, Ont. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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