Robert Crawford - Bannockburns (4 stars)

Robert Crawford - Bannockburns

A successful (if partisan) attempt to put the Scottish independence debate in an historical context

(Edinburgh University Press)

Seven hundred years after Bannockburn, with Scotland's independence referendum fast approaching, Robert Crawford has in Bannockburns produced a comprehensive account of Scottish Independence from 1314 to the present day. He begins with an exploration of poetry written at the titular battle before bringing the reader to the current debate by way of Barbour's Bruce, Burns, Edwin Morgan and Liz Lochhead, among many others.

Bannockburns is a bold and often interesting read, though it would be fair to feel that he is preaching to the choir. While not simply a compendium of pro-independence literature, Crawford definitely makes it clear which side of the debate he stands on.

The most illuminating thing about Bannockburns is how it shows that many of the key issues in the debate have been key issues for hundreds of years. Crawford succeeds in putting the independence debate in an historical context, demonstrating its importance as a part of Scotland's cultural and political identity. Although likely to draw some critics, Bannockburns is an impressive and quite possibly important piece of work. Just how important remains to be seen.

Robert Crawford: Bannockburns

Poet and critic Robert Crawford launches his latest non-fiction, Bannockburns: Scottish Independence and the Literary Imagination, 1314–2014, looking at how poetry was used to political ends, even in 1314.

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