The Inner Life of Empires: An Eighteenth-Century History

Neal Ascherson writes:

Looking at the imperial magnificence, the Habsburgian gigantism of public buildings in Edinburgh and Glasgow, you want to ask: where did all that wealth go? Looking at the stone ruins in the bracken of Lowland and Highland hills, you want to ask: where did all those people go – and why? These are questions rooted in the history of the British Empire, and they concern the very distinct and remarkable and sometimes shocking part which the Scots – the traders and the plebeians, the Lanarkshire industrialists and the Gaelic poor – played in the development of that empire.

(LRB 6 October 2011)