Culloden: Scotland's Last Battle and the Forging of the British Empire
It's unusual when the history of an event deals with that event one-third of the way through, spends the rest of the book looking at the personal and global consequences of the event – and still feels completely balanced in its treatment.
Culloden was many things, both the last battle fought on UK soil and the source of a great homogenisation of culture across the country. For such a dramatic event, the actual battle was remarkably simple, being fought on the wrong ground by an exhausted Scottish army who clearly never stood a chance (but who might have won had they fought on another day in another place that would have favoured their tactics).
But it's the subsequent lives of the protagonists that really occupies Royle. The soldiers' careers range across what became the British empire, from the American Revolutionary War, through the winning of India, to the eviction of the French from Canada and the re-ordering of the European political landscape. All of these started at Culloden, not least because they involved Highland and other Scottish regiments who'd fought on both sides, integrating the defeated into the army and economic opportunities of the victors.
4/5. Finished 24 February 2018.
(Originally published on Goodreads.)