More than 27 million Americans today can trace their lineage to the Scots, whose bloodline was stained by centuries of continuous warfare along the border between England and Scotland, and later in the bitter settlements of England's Ulster Plantation in Northern Ireland. When hundreds of thousands of Scots-Irish migrated to America in the eighteenth century, they brought with them not only long experience as rebels and outcasts but also unparalleled skills as frontiersmen and guerrilla fighters. Their cultural identity reflected acute individualism, dislike of aristocracy and a military tradition; and, over time, the Scots-Irish defined the attitudes and values of the military, of working-class America and even of the peculiarly populist form of American democracy itself. Born Fighting is the first book to chronicle the epic journey of this remarkable ethnic group and the profound but unrecognised role it has played in shaping the social, political and cultural landscape of America from its beginnings through to the present day.
Sir William Wallace of Ellerslie is one of history's greatest heroes, but also one of its greatest enigmas - a shadowy figure whose edges have been blurred by myth and legend. Even the date and place of his birth have been mis-stated - until now. James Mackay uses all his skills as a historical detective to produce this definitive biography, telling the incredible story of a man who, without wealth or noble birth, rose to become Guardian of Scotland. William Wallace, with superb generalship and tactical genius, led a country with no previous warlike tradition to triumph gloriously over the much larger, better-armed and better-trained English forces. Seven hundred years later, the heroism and betrayal, the valiant deeds and the dark atrocities, and the struggle of a small nation against a brutal and powerful empire, still create a compelling tale.
With over six thousand miles of rugged coastline, nowhere in Scotland is more than forty-five miles from tidal waters, and seven of the biggest towns and cities are seaports. No wonder then that the sea has shaped Scotland, and in turn the Scots have helped to shape maritime history, trade and communications.Scots and the Sea is a unique and compelling account of a small, sparsely populated country's relationship with the most powerful force on earth. It is a celebration of the courage and endurance of fishermen and their families, the selfless bravery of lifeboat volunteers and the individual brilliance of leaders like Admiral Cochrane, who helped establish free nations across the globe. The illicit activities of scoundrels like Captain Kidd also provide a taste of the darker side of the story. Scotland's proud maritime tradition is traced through this volume, which examines the development of trade, the founding of a Scottish merchant navy and the pressures towards Union with England. It explores ports, harbours and shipyards, and outlines the vital role Scotland has played in shipbuilding and marine engineering - from the galleys and longships of early history to clippers, steamships, ocean liners, hovercraft and oil rigs. Also recounted are the exploits and achievements of Scots in all these fields, including those of James Watt, William Symington, Henry Bell and Robert Stevenson. Finally, it takes a look into the future, where Scottish research into wave and tidal power could become vital in providing a source of sustainable energy. Over the years, many Scots have made their living and their fortune from the sea, others have lost their lives to it - Scots and the Sea is a tribute to all of them.
The most charismatic figure to emerge during the struggles for the independence of Ireland was undoubtedly Michael Collins. This remarkable biography, which draws on much hitherto unpublished material, charts the dramatic rise of the country boy who became head of the Free State and the commander-in-chief of the army.
In My End Is My Beginning is the story of Mary Queen of Scots (1542-87), the tragic heroine par excellence. Queen of an unfamiliar and troubled nation when she was a week old, it was her misfortune to be a pawn in the game of international politics throughout her life. Even in the brief period from 1561 to 1567 when she was ruler of Scotland in fact as well as in name, she was beset with problems that would have defeated a much stronger, more experienced monarch. A talented poet and a charismatic leader, she contended with a treacherous, self-serving nobility, the religious ferment of the Reformation, and the political ambitions of larger and more powerful neighbours. With little real authority and few resources, Mary's reign was successful, until her disastrous marriage to the dissolute Darnley set in motion the events that brought about her downfall. For the last 20 years of her life she was a prisoner in the hands of her cousin, Elizabeth I of England, and the subject of treacherous plots and conspiracies. A hostage to fortune, she represented a threat and a rallying-point for English Catholics. Her tragic end was inevitable. Yet her life, with all its adventurous, failures and disasters, produced the son - James - who ultimately brought about the union of Scotland and England.In the End Is My Beginning uncovers the true facts of Mary's life in the context of Anglo-Scottish relations and shows why, after more than 400 years, she remains arguably the greatest character in popular Scottish history.
Rudolf Hess's flight to Britain in May 1941 stands out as one of the most intriguing and bizarre episodes of the Second World War. In The Truth About Rudolf Hess, Lord James Douglas-Hamilton explodes many of the myths which still surround the affair. He traces the developments which persuaded Hess to undertake his flight without Hitler's knowledge and show why he chose to approach the Duke of Hamilton. In the process he throws new light on the importance of Albrecht Haushofer, one-time envoy to Hitler and Ribbentrop and personal advisor to Hess, who was eventually executed by the S.S. for his involvement in the German Resistance movement. Drawing on British War Cabinet papers and the author's unparalleled access to the Hamilton archives and the Haushofer letters, The Truth About Rudolf Hess takes the reader to the heart of the Third Reich, combining adventure and intrigue with a scholarly historical approach. This remarkable book is illustrated throughout with superb photographs, placing the fascinating story in true historical perspective.
Thomas Lipton burst onto the national scene in 1897, the year of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. The Princess of Wales had launched a Â£30,000 fund to provide a Jublilee dinner for the poor, but, with only weeks to go, no more than Â£5,000 had been subscribed. Lipton saved the day by writing a cheque for Â£25,000. The annonymous gift created massive press speculation and even greater publicity when the identity of the donor leaked out two days later. Lipton's generosity earned him a knighthood and propelled him into society at the highest level, a personal friend of the future King and Queen.Many of the myths that surrounded Lipton in the latter part of his life were created at this time and would be fixed for ever in his autobiography, published shortly after his death in 1931. Until now, what we know of Sir Thomas Lipton, grocery millionaire and yachtsman, is what he chose to tell the world about himself. Now literally detective James Mackay has uncovered the true story of one of the turn of the century's most extrordinary, larger-than-life characters, a story which is indefinitely more dramatic than the accepted version.Virtually everything Lipton tells us about himself is now shown to be untrue - even the origins of his family, his name, his date of birth and the place where he was born. The man who was hailed as the world's most eligible bachelor (his name was linked romantically with Rose Fitzgerald, the future mother of John F. Kennedy) had at least two skeletons in the closet - a youthful indescretion which led to a forced marriage, and a homosexual affair which lasted for thirty years.As a self-publicist he was a genius, and this was the key to his remarkable success. Beginning with a small shop in Glasgoe in 1871 he created a nationwide grocery chain second to none. In the process, he revolutionised the grocery retail trade, dealing direct with producers and eventually controlling production himself, with tea estates in Ceylon and meat-packing plants in Chicago. He combined a flair for organisation with superb showmanship, with stunts such as five-ton cheeses stuffed with gold sovereigns. In 1898 his company went public in one of the most successful share issues in stockmarket history.Lipton developed an interest in yachting which he pursued with the same single-mindedness as his business ventures. Between 1898 and 1930 he challenged for the America's Cup with a succession of yachts called Shamrock, but the rules of the race were heavily weighted in favour of the American defenders. The saga of his challenges, his near triumphs and the disappointments that would have destroyed a less heroic figure has become the most stirring in the annals of sport, and provides a fitting conclusion to the life of a maverick and outsider who was also one of the most colourful and flamboyant tycoons of all time.
On the morning of 3 April 1933, two single-engine biplanes set off on a flight into history. From their base near the Indian border with the mystery country of Nepal, the two young pilots, one a British Marquis and a Scottish Member of Parliament, the other a dynamic flight commander, flew towards as great a challenge as world aviation had faced to date - Mount Everest, 'Roof of the World'.The first flight over Everest was the climax of years of thought and months of intensive planning, an epoch-making event which caught the imagination of millions. News of its success reverberated throughout the British Empire to the world at large. Among the deluge of telegrams of congratulations received were those from the King and the Prime Minister. The Times of London, which had given exclusive coverage of the Expedition since its early days, carried one of its longest features ever and was excited enough to comment that the achievement was 'almost like exploring the rainbow'. Some half-a-century later that Houston-Mount Everest Expedition takes its place as one of the last great pioneering flights before the era of space travel.Roof of the World tells the remarkable story of that flight and its repercussions, among which were the growth of the British aviation industry and the creation of the country's second international airport. Using rare and unique photographs, many taken from the flight itself and giving an idea of the qualities required of the crews, Lord James Douglas-Hamilton has recreated the scene facing the pilots, one of whom was his father. He has had access to relevant diaries and personal papers presents in Roof of the World a valuable contribution to our understanding of a unique achievement in an eventful decade.