Two stars feels harsh. This history of Scotland's capital isn't terrible. But we're asked here to judge a book by how much we "like" it. And while Michael Fry's vast knowledge of Edinburgh is certainly impressive, I can't claim to have enjoyed the way he shares it with us.
There's just too much going on. We're bombarded by facts. All Scotland's big hitters feature: Robert the Bruce, John Knox, Mary Queen of Scots, King James VI. Key figures like David Hume, the philosopher, and James Hutton, the "father of geology", make an appearance. But while quotes and anecdotes from every possible era of Edinburgh's history abound, too much of it is dealt with briskly, and too little of it comes to life. The result is a slog. I found it all a bit hard going; at times, very hard going.
"A very fine book and a considerable achievement," runs a quote on the back of my copy. I guess that's fair, up to a point. "Edinburgh" is thorough, wide-ranging and well-researched. But it's not particularly well written. It's not particularly memorable. And for this newcomer to Scottish history, at least, reading it wasn't much fun.