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War opened and closed Scotland s greatest century: a pitiless part in the defeat of Naploeon in 1815, a huge blood-sacrifice for the sake of victory from 1914. In between came the greatest contributions to the progress and happiness of the rest of mankind that the Scots have ever made in everything from the combine harvester to the mackintosh to anaesthesia. It was a supremely successful achieving society yet one not without deep flaws, in its urban poverty, its destruction of the environment, its religious intolerance, its moral hypocrisy, its crushing of Highland culture. Michael Fry shows, with an emphasis always on the human story, how a succession of deep crises undermined the usually tranquil and prosperous surface of life in Victorian Scotland to leave a legacy of paradox that the modern nation has even today yet to overcome.