Lanark 1982
an unofficial Alasdair Gray website

Why Scots Should Rule Scotland (1992 & 1997)
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Gray has written two books in an attempt to put his own case for self-rule for Scotland. Each coincided with a UK General Election. The first book, Independence, was written in 1992, to explain 'why so many Scots have wanted independence; haven't got it; should get it soon; and why life in a self-governed Scotland will be better but not easier'.

The book is not illustrated. An author's note states: 'This pamphlet omits many important things: an independent Scottish education now almost destroyed by British government action; Scotland's usefulness as a separate testing ground for laws enforced in England (extra police powers, the poll tax) and much else. This cannot be helped in a short pamphlet which I think of as a sketch for a bigger picture to be completed before 2000 AD - if I am spared.

Which brought him to Why Scots Should Rule Scotland, published for the 1997 election. The cover of this wholly rewritten update to Independence consists of the flags, names and populations of 20 independent nations of smaller or comparable size to Scotland all printed in colour on a grey background. The cover text is a mix of blue and purple on white. Throughout the text the flag motif recurs, as chapter breaks and general decoration. Various flags make an appearance, but the Scottish lion and cross of St Andrew predominate.

In his introduction to this volume, Gray says: 'With a view to reprinting [Why Scots Should Rule Scotland] I read it carefully three months ago and found it a muddle of unconnected historical details and personal anecdotes with a few lucid passages and at least one piece of nonsense[.…] The reviewers' kindness had been the condescension instinctively given to the art of children or halfwits.'

Both books make use of the pretence that his publisher is questioning him and harrying him for answers. In the case of the 1992 book, this was could well have actually been the case, because Gray pushed the deadline to the limit to get it printed in time for polling day. In the second book it is more obviously an artifice, but is an interesting way of prompting Gray's torrent of information on Scottish history, culture and possible futures.

Alasdair Gray's books are sometimes difficult to get hold of. Where they are available, I have included links below to the amazon sites in the UK and the USA. Where a record is on their database, they will usually include links to used-book sellers who can offer the title, even if it is not available direct from amazon themselves.

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1992 edition also available.

Alternatively, you can try emailing Morag McAlpine, who can send you a list of available titles. She usually has a variety of out-of-print books, often signed, and also a selection of prints of Gray's artwork, also signed.