While we would share Professor Tom Devine’s pleasure at the growing public enthusiasm for history as manifest in the “Previously” festival (Perspective, 13 November) we were disappointed to read his rather parsimonious take on the Saltire Society’s contribution to that important aspect of our cultural lives.
The very fact that we have the History Book of the Year is evidence enough. Only last year Professor Devine’s To the Ends of the Earth, Scotland’s Global Diaspora, was shortlisted for that award. In addition, our other awards often have an historical aspect.
The literary panel has just shortlisted The Last Highlander by Sarah Fraser in our First Book of the Year category for 2012. In this year’s Research Book of the Year the shortlist includes Mapping the Nation, which the publisher describes as a book which “takes maps seriously as a form of history”. In 2010 the Book of the Year shortlist included Adam Smith, An Enlightened Life by Nick Phillipson. Then there is the Saltire Society’s 75-year commitment as a publisher in its own right, providing a platform and support for Scottish historical texts when they didn’t have benefit of celebrity endorsement.
Ironically, the most recent in that line is Why Scottish History Still Matters, edited by Professor Ted Cowan, available from 30 November!