We are hoping to visit Scotland in 2014 and would like to find a good book on the history of Scotland, perhaps geared to travelers. Any suggestions?
Try the Bruce trilogy by Nigel Tranter, or any of his other works. Historical novels about Robert the Bruce, William Wallace, and other Scottish heroes, and times in which they lived.
There are lots of good books on the history of Scotland. My first suggestion is to go to your nearest library and ask the person at the reference desk to help you. A college or university would probably be best, but as libraries are electronically linked these days any public library would be able to help you. My second suggestion is to buy a Rough Guide Scotland. Not only does it have pertinent information you can use it has a reading list.
Both Rough Guide and Lonely Planet guidebooks contain several pages on the relevant history. The information is written in a lively, readable style.......If you want more, read Wikipedia's article and you might try this one which is available FREE for a Kindle from Amazon: 'A Short History of Scotland' by Andrew Lang
Rob , while not a book , and a work of fiction , consider this very fine film from 1960 : " Tunes of Glory " wherein a Scottish battalion commander by the name of Jock Sinclair ( Alec Guinness ) who has brought the men through the Second World War is to be replaced by a new colonel promoted by Brigade ( central command ) named Basil Barrow ( John Mills ) . What ensues is the battle between them for the hearts and minds of the men and the tragic self destruction they both ultimately suffer . With a cast of brilliant British actors including Dennis Price , Gordon Jackson , Duncan MacRae , Kay Walsh and many others and filmed in great part at Stirling Castle , this film made an indelible mark on me from the time I first watched it at the age of fourteen .
I would agree that Nigel Tranter's books are great and can introduce you to Scotland's History. But there are some straight histories. One is A Travelers History of Scotland by Andrew Fisher published Interlink Books. It'a a little under 250 pages and will give you an overview. Another brief book is Fiona Watson's Scotland: From Prehistory to Present published by Tempus. It's under 300 pages. There are lots of other books about particular parts of Scotland. I enjoyed George MacDonald Fraser The Steel Bonnets about the Borders. Also, James Hunter's A Dance Called America is the story of people who left Scotland. It's very interesting. You could also look Antonia Fraser's biography of Mary Queen of Scots. Also, you could look at reading some of Sir Walter Scott's books, such as R ob Roy. And don't forget Robert Louis Stevenson, maybe The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde? For some WW II history check out Whisky Galore by Compton MacKenzie. The Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon is a great story about Scotland. Also, check out Dorothy Dunnett. Her Game of Kings is the first book in a series, but she also has one on MacBeth. If you want to learn more about Orcadian history, look for George MacKay Brown's books. And of course there is the original travel story of Scotland, Boswell's The Life of Samuel Johnson. Pam
And if we're going to talk about movies.... Local Hero would be a must from my view for contemporary Scotland. Also, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. All The Mary Queen of Scots movies. And I liked Rob Roy better than Braveheart. And of course, 39 Steps, Whisky Galore, again, and Gregory's Girl. Pam
A hearty second for Local Hero , and Whisky Galore , one of the great Ealing comedies . A recent one from 2010 is " The Illusionist " an animated film by Sylvain Chomet , set largely on the isle of Iona and in Edinburgh , a very touching film based on an unrealized screenplay by Jacques Tati .