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Postcards from Scotland

Kirsty Wark's foreword to the book

I was brought up in Kilmarnock and have lived all my life in Scotland and being Scottish is a vital part of my sense of self. But, like many Scots, I have always found it difficult to articulate what this feeling of Scottishness was all about, never mind explain where it came from. This book changes all that for in the following pages Carol Craig puts Scottishness under the microscope and dissects the beliefs, attitudes and cultural preferences on which it is based.

This is a bold book which challenges the conventional cultural analysis of Scotland. For example, Carol Craig argues that historically a major problem for Scotland is not that Scottish identity is too weak but that Scottishness itself is too limiting and prescriptive. This is why she argues that a major fault-line in Scottish society is a lack of respect for individuality and a stultifying culture of conformity. Carol Craig also plays down the relationship with England in the Scots? confidence problem, showing how many of the challenges facing Scotland can be traced to the very values the Scots themselves hold dear.

As this book challenges the conventional views of Scotland it is bound to be controversial. Many will take issue with its analysis and conclusions. But, for me, the importance of this book is not about whether Carol Craig?s analysis is right, but whether it opens the door to new ideas and stimulates a different debate about Scotland. Since the Scottish Parliament was set up more and more voices have clamoured for new thinking. And this is precisely what this book provides. What?s more, by highlighting different solutions to Scottish problems it could make Scotland a better place to live.

This is an eminently readable, stimulating and enjoyable book and I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone who wants to understand Scotland or Scottish culture better. If you are Scottish, or have Scottish ancestors, I also recommend you read this book for the simple reason that it will help you understand yourself.
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