The Emperor's New Kilt: The Two Secret Histories of Scotland

Jan-Andrew Henderson

Read November 2006

Henderson's book is a collection of anecdotes from Scottish history, many of them quite commonplace but a few eccentric. The kitschy title and cover, however, hide a somewhat smart book. Henderson's two “secrets” are the bits that are considered Scottish but aren't, and the bits that ought to be credited to Scotland but aren't. The former ranges from apocryphal tales about Highlanders to the invention of modern tartan; the latter include various bits of science, technology, and engineering, as well as the settling of distant lands chronicled by other authors such as Herman.

As light reading that provides a quick, episodic view of Scotland, this is pretty good.