Saturday, 21 March 2015

Book review

The Dream Shall Never Die: 100 Days that Changed Scotland Forever by Alex Salmond

I've just finished reading the above title, which mainly consists of Alex Salmond's diary of the 100 days leading up to the referendum, along with his views on events since then.

It's interesting to compare this with similar diary-based books by David Torrance (100 Days of Hope and Fear) and Alan Cochrane (Alex Salmond: My Part in his Downfall).  Both of these survey events from a No-voting perspective (although Mr Torrance tended to get butt-hurt when people wanted him to represent the No side), whereas Mr Salmond's book is, obviously, from a Yes-voting perspective.

The thing that comes across from Mr Salmond's book most strongly is his interest in people.  He can talk to anyone, from the Queen to a single mother living in a council flat, and will be equally interested in what both have to say.  The book is full of anecdotes about the many people he met during the referendum campaign and the stories they told him.  This is a striking contrast to the offerings Messrs Torrance and Cochrane, both of whom name-drop constantly.  Indeed there are copious footnotes in Mr Cochrane's book, most of which are explanations of who all the names dropped belong to.

Mr Salmond's book gives some explanation of how he came to believe in Scottish Independence and has brief references to his political career prior to the referendum.  Again, contrasting with the other books, where the Union is simply assumed to be the best option without any explanation of why this should be the case.

The book does capture the feeling of how it was to be involved in the Yes campaign, and the two passages referring to the 19th September and his resignation still evoke strong emotions six months on.

There are brief references to the business of government at Holyrood, and I have a strong feeling that there is a lot of story there which I hope we will be told at some point.

Finally, it's clear from the book that Mr Salmond is by no means finished as a politician, and I think we can look forward to some interesting times if he is elected to Westminster in May.

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