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Homage to Caledonia: Scotland and the Spanish Civil War
 
 

Homage to Caledonia: Scotland and the Spanish Civil War [Kindle Edition]

Daniel Gray
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Review

Daniel Gray has done a marvellous job in bringing together the stories of Scots volunteers....in [this] many-voiced, multi-layered book --Scotland on Sunday

...moving and thought-provoking. --The Herald

'Important and powerful' --Tony Benn

He can write- his prose is unfussy, fluent and warm, Best of all, he has squared the circle of producing accurate histroy while retaining a deep respect for the men and women who people it. Daniel Gray has written a deeply human history, moving and thought-provoking, not only of those 549 people, but of two nations- Scotland and Spain- battling with an evil that would soon darken the whole of Europe. --The Herald- Saturday 17th January, 2009

This is the latest addition to a line of excellent books published over the last couple of years-- Morning Star- 28th December, 2008

Gray brings the dramatic events of the period so vividly alive...

Rigorous, well-written and entertaining... -- Holyrood Magazine, 23rd February, 2009

Gray deserves applause for shining a light on a lesser-known aspect of the nations' characters of which we should all be proud --Press and Journal

He can write- his prose is unfussy, fluent and warm, Best of all, he has squared the circle of producing accurate histroy while retaining a deep respect for the men and women who people it. <br/> <br/> Daniel Gray has written a deeply human history, moving and thought-provoking, not only of those 549 people, but of two nations- Scotland and Spain- battling with an evil that would soon darken the whole of Europe. --The Herald- Saturday 17th January, 2009

This is the latest addition to a line of excellent books published over the last couple of years-- Morning Star- 28th December, 2008 <br/> <br/> Gray brings the dramatic events of the period so vividly alive... <br/><br/> Rigorous, well-written and entertaining... -- Holyrood Magazine, 23rd February, 2009 <br/><br/> Gray deserves applause for shining a light on a lesser-known aspect of the nations' characters of which we should all be proud --Press and Journal

Product Description

The Spanish civil war was a call to arms for 2,300 British volunteers, of which over 500 were from Scotland. The first book of its kind, 'Homage to Caledonia' examines Scotland's role in the conflict, detailing exactly why Scottish involvement was so profound. The book moves chronologically through events and places, firstly surveying the landscape in contemporary Scotland before describing volunteers' journeys to Spain, and then tracing their every involvement from arrival to homecoming (or not). There is also an account of the non-combative role, from fundraising for Spain and medical aid, to political manoeuvrings within the volatile Scottish left. Using a wealth of previously-unpublished letters sent back from the front as well as other archival items, Daniel Gray is able to tell little known stories of courage in conflict, and to call into question accepted versions of events such as the 'murder' of Bob Smillie, or the heroism of 'The Scots Scarlet Pimpernel'. Homage to Caledonia offers a very human take on events in Spain: for every tale of abject distress in a time of war, there is a tale of a Scottish volunteer urinating in his general's boots, knocking back a dram with Errol Flynn or appalling Spanish comrades with his pipe playing. For the first time, read the fascinating story of Caledonia's role in this seminal conflict.

REVIEWS:
As seen on STV Documentary 'The Scots Who Fought Franco'

'Daniel Gray has done a marvellous job in bringing together the stories of Scots volunteers - in [this] many-voiced, multi-layered book' SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY

'...moving and thought-provoking.' THE HERALD

'A new and fascinating contribution' SCOTTISH REVIEW OF BOOKS

'Book of the week - Gray deserves applause for shining a light on a lesser-known aspect of the nation's character of which we should all be proud. 'PRESS & JOURNAL

BACK COVER:
Thirty-five thousand people from across the world volunteered to join the armed resistance in a war on fascism. More people, proportionately, went from Scotland than any other country, and the entire nation was gripped by the conflict. What drove so many ordinary Scots to volunreer in a foreign war?

Their stories are powerfully and honestly told, often in their own words: the ordinary men and women who made their way to Spain over the Pyrenees when the UK government banned anyone from going to support either side; the nuses and ambulance personnel who discovered for themselves the horrors of modern warfare; and the people back home who defied their poverty to give generously to the Spanish republican cause.

Even in war there are light-hearted moments: a Scottish volunteer drunkenly urinating in his general's boots, enduring the dark comedy of learning to shoot with sticks amidst a scarcity of rifles, or enjoying the surreal experience of raising a dram with Errol Flynn. They went from all over the country: Glasgow, Edinburgh. Aberdeen, Dundee, Fife and the Highlands, and they fought to save Scotland, and the world, from the growing threat of fascism.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1637 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Luath Press; 1 edition (22 July 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00E2580YW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #264,090 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

www.danielgraywriter.com

Daniel Gray's latest book is 'Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters: Travels Through England's Football Provinces'. It is published by Bloomsbury.

Author and historian Daniel is also the writer of 'Stramash: Tackling Scotland's Towns and Teams' and 'Homage to Caledonia: Scotland and the Spanish Civil War'. He has written features, opinion pieces, obituaries and book reviews for a wide range of newspapers and magazines, including theguardian, The Scotsman, The Sunday Herald and When Saturday Comes. He writes a monthly travel sketch column for The Leither magazine.

Daniel can occasionally be heard on radio, whether talking about Benjamin Disraeli on Radio Three or Raith Rovers via internet stations. He has filmed a number of pieces for Scottish television, including on STV's The Scots Who Fought Franco, for which he wrote the script. Daniel has addressed more than 70 audiences in the last couple of years, from local communist parties to the Edinburgh Book Festival.

Praise for Hatters:

'Gray brilliantly interweaves social history, modern day public and political life and, of course, football itself...Highly recommended.'
The Telegraph

'Excellent. Quality and heartfelt football writing.'
David Conn, the guardian

'Highly recommended.'
Oliver Kay, The Times

'A delight. It's the kind of book, filled with astute observations of small details, that might just convince the most confirmed football sceptic why football has such a place in our culture....a book to savour and to make you think.'
New Statesman

'Superlative...The book is beautifully written; pessimistic and damning, yet joyful and full of love for the game...wonderful.'
When Saturday Comes magazine

'Like a footballing version of Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island.'
FourFourTwo magazine

'A wryly-observed history lesson on lower league football and proper Englishness.'
Loaded magazine

'More than just a tale of sport, Gray's quest becomes a voyage of discovery...His humour and passion may well win over even the most reluctant of football fans.'
Easyjet Traveller magazine

'[Gray] writes like Lowry paints. Superb.'
BBC Lancashire

'Among urban blight, his astute eye can pick out details that are funny, redeeming or both...Book of the Week.'
Bradford Telegraph and Argus

'Superb...a shrewdly observed and at times caustic cocktail of social history and travelogue.'
Middlesbrough Evening Gazette

'300 pages of great prose... a beautiful book about England, one worth reading.'
Staten Island Advance newspaper

'It is perhaps obvious to compare Gray to Nick Hornby given the subject matter, yet the comparisons stretch beyond a passion for football... Beautifully written, nostalgic and reflective, this will also appeal to fans of Simon Armitage, Stuart Maconie and Tim Moore.'
Books with Bunny blog

'Daniel Gray does an excellent job of writing a football book that is about more than football.'
Burnley No Nay Never blog

'Recognising the interconnectedness of town and team, Gray offers social histories of the places he visits for the weekend, coupling them with droll travel writing...a celebration of the game and where its roots and its guts lie... I heartily recommend you pick up a copy as an antidote to the cold cynicism that pervades the peak of the football pyramid.'
Football 365

'A wonderful read and like some of the very best football books out there, the actual football is merely a footnote...Really enjoyable and beautifully paced, this is one to read and keep as in ten years' time it could feel even more relevant than it does right now.'
In Bed with Maradona

'One of our favourite books in recent memory. It is a unique title, one that is part travel journal and part football commentary...It is really quite brilliant.'
International Soccer Network

'A story of towns, their people, their histories, their clubs, and a ruddy bloody great read.'
Love Middlesbrough blog


Praise for Stramash:

'An excellent new book about the country's smaller teams... [Stramash] captures the vague romance that still clings to the these 'smaller' Scottish clubs. It will make a must-read for every non-Old Firm football fan - and for many Rangers and Celtic supporters too.' Daily Record

'It is not a look at the state of the game just now in borrowed tartan glasses or a shortbread tin view of an English tourist, it is more than that... The book charts Gray's visits to Ayr, Alloa, Cowdenbeath, Coatbridge, Montrose, Kirkcaldy, Greenock, Arbroath, Dingwall, Cumbernauld, Dumfries and Elgin and the chapters dedicated to each stop provide more than just a description of match action.' Scottish Football League Official Newsletter

'There have been previous attempts by authors to explore the off-the-beaten paths of the Scottish football landscape, but Daniel Gray's volume is in another league as he mixes social history with sharp contemporary observation (and measured wit) in the classic outposts of the game which, together, epitomise the character of football north of the border.' The Scotsman, Sports Books of the Year 2010

'As he takes in a match at each stopping-off point, Gray presents little portraits of small Scottish towns, relating histories of declining industry, radical politics and the connection between a team and its community. It's a brilliant way to rediscover Scotland, and some outstanding players who deserve to have been national legends but are now long forgotten.' The Herald

'...there is enough here to interest the casual reader, and if you're looking for a book that provides at least a flavour of life in the SFL and a bit of background to some of the social histories from which Scottish football and its teams grew, then this would be a reasonable place to start. And not only because of the lack of any other books attempting the same thing. When Saturday Comes

'...a great read, because Gray doesn't write about just football, he uses football as an excuse to explore the histories of small towns in Scotland. Employing the same research skills used in Homage to Caledonia, he digs up theoretically fascinating facts about towns like Arbroath, Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath. And they are fascinating, because he works these into a narrative of his visits to see the small town's football teams in action.

So historical detail combines with the day-to-day, as when he writes "[a manufacturer's] family would later gift the town the museum in which I now stood, being tutted at by a curator for allowing my mobile phone to erupt", and it's this approach that keeps the book moving pacily along, before we even get to the football. As for that, if you've ever wanted to know why Arbroath FC are called the Red Lichties or why Tommy Ring and 'Vodka Vic' are legendary in some postcodes, this richly researched and humorously written book is for you. 4/5.' The Skinny

'Why do the Gers and Hoops have retail outlets in the capital? Why do buses depart for Glasgow on a Saturday morning from every corner of Scotland?

Gray's book is a splendid attempt to answer these questions, and more besides. The author has done it the hard way, too, by actually turning up for games in Alloa, Coatbridge, Greenock, Kirkcaldy, Elgin and, yes, Dingwall. He has been to see where we live, or once lived. The result is sociology at its best, which is to say eminently readable...

His book should be required reading for anyone who elects to prattle on about this sport's "grassroots"... Stramash may turn out to be a memoir of the way we were, and an epitaph.' Ian Bell, The Sunday Herald

'I defy anyone to read Stramash and not fall in love with Scottish football's blessed eccentricities all over again... Funny enough to bring on involuntary, laugh out loud moments. It's a good book to read if you want to disconcert your fellow Scotrail commuters.

An admirably accessible introduction to Scottish football, our footballing heritage and our rich social history.' Scottish Football Blog

'A very readable book, striking the right balance between history and gossip. 5/5.' Beyond the Bandstand: Stranraer FC programme

'Gray presents his story as half national football profile-half Edwardian travelogue...his railings against the identikit high-street are laced with pithy humour and wry observances. And somehow, he always manages to find something witty, endearing or beautiful even in the most deprived post-industrial back-waters...However interesting and entertaining the vignettes of the towns and their characters are, his evocations of an almost lost footballing world are beautiful, poignant and usually quite funny...a splendid kind of football book.' backpagefootball


Praise for Homage to Caledonia

'Important and powerful' Tony Benn

'Told through the words and experiences of those who were there, this meticulously researched and beautifully written book is simultaneously heart-breaking and uplifting.' Maggie Craig

'Daniel Gray has done a marvellous job in bringing together the stories of Scots volunteers... in [this] many-voiced, multi-layered book.' Scotland on Sunday

'[Gray] has organised a complex story into a well-constructed and compelling narrative. He can write - his prose is unfussy, fluent and warm. Best of all, he has squared the circle of producing accurate history while retaining a deep respect for the men and women who people it... moving and thought-provoking.' The Herald

'Excellent... highly effective.' The Scots Magazine

'A new and fascinating contribution.' Scottish Review of Books

'Excellent... a rigorous, well written and entertaining assessment of Scotland's contribution to that chapter of European history.' Holyrood Magazine

'Book of the week... Gray deserves applause for shining a light on a lesserknown aspect of the nation's character of which we should all be proud.' Press and Journal

'A very human history of the conflict emerges.' Scottish Field

'The latest addition to a line of excellent books detailing the efforts of British men and women in Spain.' Morning Star

'An excellent book I would recommend to anyone with an interest in the Civil War.' Scots Independent

'Tells the story of those in Spain, but also of the tremendous effort of the Scots at home to raise funds to provide vital food and medical supplies.' Daily Record

'Much of the testimony in this important book is new... What is most impressive is the way in which the different characters involved carry the reader along with them. From its pages, the voices of the ordinary Scots who volunteered to fight fascism ring out loud and clear... in no other book will you find yourself closer to them, or more inspired.' International Brigades Memorial Trust newsletter

'Daniel Gray skilfully weaves the words of the Scottish participants in Spain's struggle for democracy in this excellent and timely book.' The Citizen

'Gray weaves a complex, yet highly accessible and personalised narrative...[his] work offers unique insights into the complexity, passions and ultimate tragedy of this conflict.' Scottish Labour History Journal

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, powerful and moving: a vital read 8 Jan 2009
By Matt
Format:Hardcover
Daniel Gray's new book truly is a tour de force and is by far the best book that I have read about Scotland's involvement in the Spanish Civil War.

With a foreword by Socialist stalwart Tony Benn, I found "Homage to Caledonia" to be a real page-turner. Gray does a fantastic job and tells a fascinating story of ordinary men and women travelling abroad to fight the fascists in the name of freedom, democracy and Socialism.

I wholeheartedly recommend you buy this book, either for yourself or a loved one.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An impressive, important book 8 Jan 2009
Format:Hardcover
I've always been fascinated by this chapter in Scottish history, but until Homage to Caledonia, I hadn't found a book that told the story in such an elegant, insightful and diligently-researched way.

Gray writes beautifully too; he manages the difficult balancing act of making the content accessible and finely detailed at the same time. The book's overall tone also conveys his obvious passion for the subject: it veers from warm and wry to wistful and elegiac without lapsing into sentimentality. That he occasionally drifts from the historical to the polemical only makes it all the more engaging.

Highly recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scots in Spain 13 Feb 2012
Format:Paperback
The Spanish Civil War attracted volunteers from Scotland to resist Fascism at a time when Britain's position was not to intervene in what was seen as a purely Spanish matter. This book gives eyewitness accounts by the participants and is a valuable source for understanding why these volunteers put their lives at risk in a cause that was not theirs. It also reveals how the men were victimised afterwards, even to being refused permission to join the armed forces at the start of World War II, by a governemnt that failed to understand the significance of the events in Spain and their relation to militant nationalism in Italy and Germany.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 14 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
i enjoyed this as my great aunt was in this war ethel mcdonald x
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carefully composed historical account 3 Aug 2011
Format:Paperback
This is a well written and more importantly, well edited account of the involvement of Scots in the International Brigades. It's very well organised, with various stories interwoven in different chapters dealing with issues such as recruitment, travel, imprisonment and the "home front" (my descriptions). Easy to read, interesting and engaging.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't recommend highly enough 7 Jan 2011
By asd5204
Format:Paperback
A thoroughly recommended read! I never realised just how involved Scots were in the Spanish Civil War and this certainly opened my eyes. Well researched and written and one of a handful of books which I didn't want to put down till I had finished.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HOMAGE TO CALIDONIA 26 July 2009
Format:Hardcover
an excellant book on how the scots men &women left their homes ,some never to return to fight against the rising fascist tide long before europe were woken up to the sound of jackboots on their streets not only an accurate but very readable book and today when we see fascism raising its ugly head this book is an inspiration and a must read book ,in fact once opened it was very difficult to put down .This book is about the Scots but also covers other brave men and women from ireland,america,england whose bravery was beyond doupt BUY IT, A FANTASTIC READ VENCEREMOS!
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Caledonia gu brath ! 14 Dec 2009
Format:Paperback
Fast delivery and the book was in good condition so Amazons part in the bargain was fulfilled.

The Book itself is an excellent read, It is obviously of more interest if you are Scottish. However it took an englishman to write it(but there is nothing unusual with that, I thought all oor Scottish history was written by the english) and he did a good job. He manages to write about the subject matter with affection and respect and steers clear of being patronising.

I'm very glad this story has been told and thank the author for his endeavours!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A great tribute to these brave Men and Women
In these times of a rising right wing in Europe this is a reminder from the past of the brave scots who fought on the side of the people of Spain Viva la quinta brigada
Published 13 months ago by carl john
5.0 out of 5 stars caladonia
Great book should be on the study list for all schools doing History.They knew why they went to Spain ----- TO FIGHT
Published 16 months ago by PWBENZ
5.0 out of 5 stars important history that most people dont know much about
This is the first book about the Spanish Civil War I have read and didnt know much if anything about it before this book. Read more
Published on 11 Dec 2011 by grobski
3.0 out of 5 stars almost but not quite
Great story, and great individual stories, but would have been better told by a better writer. Too often the prose is clunky and repetitious, falling back on stock phrases.
Published on 8 Dec 2009 by Kw Mckinlay
4.0 out of 5 stars unreported history
Homage to Caledonia is a fine example of history that wasn't on the curriculum. I was unaware so many Scots were aware of the dangers of Hitler's fascists and took direct action... Read more
Published on 10 Mar 2009 by Robert A. Storrar
5.0 out of 5 stars I might want to borrow this!
I bought this book as a Christmas present for a friend so I haven't read it myself but the person I bought it for thoroughly enjoyed it.
Published on 23 Feb 2009 by Austenite
4.0 out of 5 stars A Ripping Yarn of Social History
In many ways, the Spanish Civil war was THE defining moment of the last century. It was the opening act in a dramatic series of events, that led to national states jockeying for... Read more
Published on 14 Jan 2009 by Mr. Andy I. Gaskell
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