on 31 July 2012
Trevor Royle has written a most interesting account of Scotland's contribution to the Allied effort in the Second World War. Unlike Northern Ireland, Scotland has never had an Official History for the period and Mr Royle has done a remarkable job in filling part of this literary gap, although inevitably that has created its own challenges.
Broadly researched, Time of Tyrants paints a sweeping brush of Scotland's military, industrial, economic, political, cultural and social contribution to the war in an engaging and coherent style. There are times however, when this cogency is corrupted and the chronology in particular becomes very confusing. In addition, there are also a surprising number of errors in the text. Some of these are clearly typos but others are fundamental and demonstrate a failure of knowledge, proof-reading or editorship.
The social, cultural and political aspects are especially well covered but the industrial and economic aspects rather less so, which given the importance of Scotland's manufacturing capability to the war effort, especially munitions, is unexpected. In particular, there is little mention of ports, warehousing and imports, nor indeed, any mention of the railways. The book would certainly benefit by reducing the space on overseas army deployments to enable a greater focus on Scottish defence operations and the mobilization and support of Scottish units in Scotland. Whilst the introduction of too much detail relating to manufacturing outputs, imports, munitions production, transportation, defence deployments and bases would interrupt the lucid flow of the structure, a selection of appendices and supporting footnotes would add enormous value to a book of this nature.
Overall, I enjoyed Time of Tyrants and would strongly recommend it to anyone interested in Scotland's history in the 21st century. It would be a delight to assist Mr Royle in honing the next edition because it deserves the extra polish.