Allan Brown - Fifty People Who Screwed Up Scotland (1 star)

Allan Brown - Fifty People Who Screwed Up Scotland

Dreadfully written high-pitched jeremiad full of factual errors

To criticise this book for being sour, petulant and pusillanimous would be to miss the point. Brown’s shtick is snark and he’s sticking to it. Indeed the whole series to which this high-pitched jeremiad belongs depends upon a certain sixth-form iconoclasm. It’s not so much telling truth to power as saying yah boo sucks to you.

So who are the fifty perfidious individuals who ruined Scotland? Given Brown has previously written on contemporary Scottish comedy, restaurants and music, it is of little surprise that we have here denunciations of Gordon Ramsay and Nick Nairn, Billy Connolly and Ricky Gervais, Stuart Adamson and Alex Harvey. I wholeheartedly commend Brown for supporting the SNP’s green agenda by recycling so much material.

But there are also chapters, particularly on writers – Kelman, McIllvanney, Conan Doyle, Burns, MacDiarmid – that seem to reveal a scribbler unacquainted even with Wikipedia.

There is no show without Punch, and of course, Brown punches at nationalism in general and Salmond in particular. His piece on Salmond is singularly sly. ‘Race is the sole criterion for inclusion in his panoply of glory’, Brown types. Now, this is not the kind of book that has footnotes, but evidence as well as assertion might have been useful.

But forget the politics or culture, there are many reasons not to buy this book. It is dreadfully written, full of factual errors and, frankly, a joke. But on the author, not his supposed targets.

Published by Constable, out now

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