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Postcards from Scotland

Some positive reviews and comments

Harry Reid
The Herald, 8.2.2003
This is a brave book, a stimulating book, a ground-breaking book. It should shake this little nation to its foundations and smash its complacency.

Carol Craig sprays sparky allusion and insights with such apparent abandon that you might, at first, be disposed to regard her work as some kind of firework, a flashy flare that is seen now and then forgotten in an instant. But this would be a mistake; this book will illuminate for much longer.

Everything that she writes is imbued with compassion and kindly concern. For all its intellectual charge, this is a gentle book. Craig wishes to empower and enfranchise people who are crushed by an overriding conformity and a corroding cultural mediocrity.

She confesses that as she wrote some of the more contentious chapters she could hear the phrase 'Who does she think she is?' ringing in her ears. I?ll tell her who she is. She is someone who has with considerable cerebral courage, held up the mirror to this little nation, and then smashed it to bits.

Easy enough. But she has then done the difficult bit. She has picked up the pieces, put them together, and given us a reflection of what we might, just become.

Iain Macwhirter
The Sunday Herald, 9.2. 2003
Dr Carol Craig, a well-known face around civic Scotland these past 20 years or so, writes of the malaise in a new book The Scots? Crisis of Confidence. She believes that decades of identity politics have deformed the Scottish character. She writes: 'For Scotland to become a more confident nation and a better place to live, we must cease the endless quest for Scottishness and renounce our tiresome obsession with Scottish identity.'

Not long ago a remark like that might have provoked a wave of synthetic outrage from professional Scots in and around the media and politics. Similarly her assertion that a ?culture of mediocrity flourishes in Scottish life and there is a tyranny of public opinion? would have moved tyrannical Scottish opinion formers to write furious epistles. But these are changed times. Scots no longer feel the need to leap to their own defence whenever someone utters a few home truths.

I?m not suggesting, by the way, that Craig is unpatriotic, unScottish or hostile to home rule. Far from it. Her book is a very personal and sometimes confessional account of what it means to live as a Scot ? the conformism, self-criticism, self-doubt and fear of exposure. She passionately wants to bring Scots out of their shells, be all they can be, accept themselves and each other for what they are.

Michael Russell
Holyrood Magazine, 25.2.2003
I suspect that in time The Scots Crisis of Confidence will become one of the standard texts on Scottish character and ? those dreaded words ? identity. Before that happens it would be wise for anyone who cares about Scotland or who is charged with any responsibility for our national life, to read what Carol Craig has to say and ponder on it long and hard. In that way her wisdom, compassion and integrity ? key values she claims and she has them in spades ? will have the effect they deserve. They might even make Scotland change in the way that she, and many others, desire.

The Sunday Herald, 9.2.2003
Dr Carol Craig?s book, The Scots? Crisis of Confidence, has said what so many Scots have never dared: that there is after all some truth in Winston Churchill?s claim that ?it is never a problem to distinguish between a Scotsman and a ray of sunshine?.

George Kerevan
The Scotsman, 10.2.2003
Before devolution, there was the word. The long fight for a Scottish Parliament was fought out through a host of significant (and popular) writings from the Scottish thinking class, including Tom Nairn?s seminal The Break-up of Britain, the passionate journalism of Neal Ascherson , and even Dr Gordon Brown?s militant Red Paper on Scotland. Now, after a period of brooding silence, the intellectual drums are beating again in an attempt to understand why devolution has not led to a new golden age. At the end of last year, Ascherson published Stone Voices: The Search for Scotland. And this month comes The Scots? Crisis of Confidence, by Dr Carol Craig, the feminist writer.

Both books deserve close reading.

Alan McLean
The Times Educational Supplement Scotland, 4.4.2003
An important and timely book, The Scots? Crisis of Confidence, has helped me consider the paradox involved in encouraging schools to move beyond their comfort zone. This book captures the culture within which most teachers grew up and explains how it has created a Scottish identity that forms some deep-seated and suffocating attitudes.

Ewan Aitken (COSLA Education spokesperson)
The Times Educational Supplement Scotland 5.9.2003
One of the joys of holidays is the chance to read those books that have been in the ?to be read? pile for too long. This summer the book that really grabbed my attention was not from my usual gneres of politics, biography or crime but a more reflective book that took a deeper look at this nation of ours.

Carol Craig?s The Scots? Crisis of Confidence made my summer and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Nancy Silcox
Type Face (UK MBTI journal), Autumn 2003
The Scots? Crisis of Confidence is a book that will definitely engage anyone with Scottish friends and relatives, or just an interest in Scotland. Carol Craig writes the book from a depth of many years? experience and education, yet does not assume her readers are already familiar with, for example history or politics. This fact makes it emininently readable around the globe. I would not be surprised to find it published in other languages eventually. ? By the end, one is in awe of Carol?s widely read and varied life that gives her an insight and wisdom which lends credence and power to her writing.
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