It was Maya Angelou who said: 'If you don't know where you've come from, you don't know where you're going. I have respect for the past, but I'm a person of the moment. I'm here, and I do my best to be completely centered at the place I'm at, then I go forward to the next place.' Reading follows this philosophy, and in this issue of BooksfromScotland we recommend a variety of books that take us across time and space. From fiction, history and crime to anthologies and fresh, new voices, we've got an abundance of storytelling that could stand the test of time.

This year sees the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, a document written and sent to Pope John XXII as part of a campaign, in 1320, to assert Scotland as an independent kingdom. The declaration went on to have wider influence with many believing it to be the inspiration behind America’s declaration of independence. In this anniversary year, three publishers are releasing books on the document’s history.


Declaration of Arbroath By Tom Turpie Published by Luath Press

Declarations on Freedom for Writers and Readers Edited by Scottish PEN Published by Scotland Street Press

The Illustrated Declaration of Arbroath By Andrew Redmond Barr Published by the Saltire Society


First up is Tom Turpie’s pocket guide, Declaration of Arbroath. In the book, Tom seeks to contextualise the document, and to begin, he offers this historical timeline:


1189–92 Scottish Church granted ‘Special Daughter Status’ by Papacy

1286 Death of Alexander III

1290 Death of the Maid of Norway, Alexander’s only heir

1291­–2 The Great Cause; the legal process to choose a new King of Scots

1292 (November) John Balliol chosen and inaugurated King of Scots

1295 Scots seek alliance with King Philip IV of France

1296 Wars of Independence begin with Scottish attack on Carlisle, English attack on Berwick and battle of Dunbar; King John surrenders to Edward I

1297 Rebellion led by William Wallace and Andrew Murray ends with Scottish victory at the battle of Stirling Bridge

1298 Scottish forces under Wallace defeated at the battle of Falkirk

1301–2 Debate in Rome between Scottish and English procurators, Edward I forced to back down

1303 ...


In another anniversary, this year sees the 200th anniversary of the 1820 uprising in Glasgow. In his new book, Radical Scotland, Kenny MacAskill looks at national and international events that led up to those protests. Here, we have an extract covering the trial of Thomas Muir, a radical dissident, in 1793.


Extract taken from Radical Scotland: Uncovering Scotland’s Radical History from the French Revolutionary Era to the 1820 Rising By Kenny MacAskill Published by Biteback Publishing


And so, on 30 August Thomas Muir the radical advocate appeared in court as the accused. Choosing to represent himself, he was supported by his friend and solicitor William Moffatt. Five judges were on the bench with Lord Braxfield as senior judge. From the outset it was clear that this was not a trial but a state inquisition. As Peter Hume Brown has described, Muir’s trial was ‘prejudiced b...



The Young Team click

The Young Team

‘”Azzy Williams,” A say, aw confidence.’


David Robinson Reviews:  Hamnet by Maggie O’ Farrell click

David Robinson Reviews: Hamnet by Maggie O’ Farrell

‘Every life has its kernel, its hub, its epicentre, from which everything flows out, to which everything returns.’


The Book According To…Sally Magnusson click

The Book According To…Sally Magnusson

‘Honestly it’s gorgeous!  A divine shade of purple, with thistles that gleam in the light. The artists and designers behind the wonderful book-covers on our shelves these days deserve enormous respect …


LOTE click


‘I began to wonder who she was, if any of her work survives, and what it was like for a Black woman studying at a prestigious institute in London at that time.’


Kristian Kerr Reviews: The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld click

Kristian Kerr Reviews: The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld

‘Here is a story of survival and violence, of hounding and pursuit, of living outside the margins.’


Bobby March Will Live Forever: A Q & A with Alan Parks click

Bobby March Will Live Forever: A Q & A with Alan Parks

‘And as night falls and the chatter dies down there’s still one person who doesn’t know what Glasgow is talking about.’


The Black Flamingo click

The Black Flamingo

‘I am the black flamingo. The black flamingo is me trying to find myself.’


Blasted Things click

Blasted Things

‘To her generation the war was nothing but a bore. Old hat. And that’s the world Clem wanted for her son after all. His greatest challenges would be in sport, examinations, commerce, romance.’


The Unreliable Death of Lady Grange click

The Unreliable Death of Lady Grange

‘Lord Grange’s face remained still, unfathomable. Yet as his eldest daughter peered under her bonnet at him, she thought she saw a flicker of something, a twitching around the lips on the otherwise im …


Self-Portrait: The Eyes Within click

Self-Portrait: The Eyes Within

‘The life of William George Mitchell has been a richly lived and full affair.’


What We Did In The Dark click

What We Did In The Dark

‘I feel as if my skin were glass, as if you read my thoughts almost before I think them.’


The Medallion click

The Medallion

‘Reunited after the war. As much as she wanted to believe that, Rosa could not.’


Britain and the Bomb click

Britain and the Bomb

‘Much of my story pivots on a single military project: the TSR2 aircraft. The label ‘TSR2’ stood for ‘Tactical Strike and Reconnaissance 2’, and this was the most ambitious military aviation project e …