Synopses & Reviews
"The history may be hidden, but it's there if you look --- and it's well worth finding."
---Daily Mail (Scotland) Scottish history isn't just about Robert Burns and Braveheart. In fact, it's far more complex than some might think. In Curious Scotland, journalist George Rosie digs deeper into Scotland's past, unearthing some of the lesser known but more surprising details, including:
· Who was behind the military's "Operation Vegetarian"?
· What became of the Glasgow Frankenstein?
· Why do Scots always spit on a certain Edinburgh street?
· And how did John Ross become the greatest Cherokee chieftain?
Rosie answers these and other questions, illuminating corners of Scottish lore that have never been explored before. With a dry wit and unflagging curiosity, he shows us that Scotland's history is full of far stranger stuff than your average plate of haggis.
Essays plucked from Scotland's colorful, combative past.
Journalist, documentary filmmaker and playwright Rosie has roamed his native land's highlands and lowlands to fashion this odd but intriguing book. Some of the characters are familiar. One essay concerns Robert the Bruce and his response to a failed coup planned against his early reign. Another defends fiery Calvinist preacher John Knox, unfairly remembered, the author claims, as a "reactionary, ecclesiastical bully." We meet Daniel Defoe in 1706 (13 years before he published Robinson Crusoe), when he was a British secret agent living in Edinburgh and covertly reporting on Scottish opposition to unification with England. Rosie provides an intimate, dishy portrait of the exiled Bonnie Prince Charlie, unhappily isolated in Italy with wayward wife Louise de Stolberg. Their domestic battles, eagerly reported to England by watchful envoy Horace Mann, would have made perfect Hollywood tabloid fodder. The author also uncovers lesser-kn Publishers Weekly
This fun book makes no claim to scholarly rigor, but is instead "an autodidact's anthology of neglected episodes in Scottish history." The stories were chosen, Rosie says, according to just one principle: "Really- How interesting! I never knew." And so Rosie, a Scottish journalist, playwright and television documentary maker, takes us on a diverting tour, down the short cuts, bypasses and cul-de-sacs of history rather than its highways, from the time of King Arthur to the present. A flavor of what Rosie offers is hinted at in his chapter titles, which include "The Glasgow Frankenstein" (about an 1818 medical experiment to resurrect a hanged man); "The Blasphemer" (about Thomas Aikenhead, the last man to be executed in Scotland, in 1697, for that crime); and "Operation Vegetarian" (Britain's wartime plan to poison German cattle with anthrax). Rosie even makes a few stops in America, where he tracks down John Ross, the Highland Scot and Cherokee who became "the Native American statesman PW
Praise for Curious Scotland
"Full of curiosities . . . George Rosie has tried harder than most of the purveyors of tartan trivia --- and he has reaped the dividend. Curious Scotland is the best such anthology I have come across recently."
---Daily Mail (Scotland)
"Gems . . . Rosie's judgment on the curios he has excavated is shrewd and even handed . . . Curious Scotland has found an enthusiast here."
"A fascinating compendium, written with wit and economy, and immaculately researched."
--- Scotland on Sunday
"Provides a wealth of evidence . . . an enjoyable compendium." ---The Bookseller
"George Rosie has spent a lifetime seeking out the strange and obscure facts about this country's past. . . . Part of what makes this book so great is that Rosie asks questions that none of us would ever think of." ---Herald (Glasgow)
"A must-read for all those who want to find out what this country is really made of."
---Scotland on Sunday
About the Author
"Rosie is one of Scotland's most versatile and talented men of letters." --- Literary Review (UK) George Rosie is an award-winning journalist, playwright, and television documentary maker. His books include The British in Vietnam: How the Tweny-five year war began and Death's Enemy: The Pilgrimage of Victor Frankenstein. A play, Carlucco and the Queen of Hearts, won several awards at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. He lives in Edinburgh.