Being of Scottish descent, many of my ancestors are named William Wallace. Although I’ve heard much about Wallace’s life, watched Braveheart (not truly accurate, altho it is based on facts. Guess you have to embellish to sell tickets), I’ve been curious to read his life’s story. And to have it tucked neatly in with Robert the Bruce was too great a temptation to resist.
On my reader, the book totaled 258 pages. Not only did it give a lot of details about their battle and resistance strategies, there are descriptions of what life was like way back then. It held my interest all the way through, and on various nights, kept me up past my bedtime!
Here’s the author’s preface:
MY DEAR LADS,
There are few figures in history who have individually exercised so great an influence upon events as William Wallace and Robert Bruce. It was to the extraordinary personal courage, indomitable perseverance, and immense energy of these two men that Scotland owed her freedom from English domination. So surprising were the traditions of these feats performed by these heroes that it was at one time the fashion to treat them as belonging as purely to legend as the feats of St. George or King Arthur. Careful investigation, however, has shown that so far from this being the case, almost every deed reported to have been performed by them is verified by contemporary historians. Sir William Wallace had the especial bad fortune of having come down to us principally by the writings of his bitter enemies, and even modern historians, who should have taken a fairer view of his life, repeated the cry of the old English writers that he was a bloodthirsty robber. Mr. W. Burns, however, in his masterly and exhaustive work, The Scottish War of Independence, has torn these calumnies to shreds, and has displayed Wallace as he was, a high minded and noble patriot. While consulting other writers, especially those who wrote at the time of or but shortly after the events they record, I have for the most part followed Burns in all the historical portions of the narrative. Throughout the story, therefore, wherein it at all relates to Wallace, Bruce, and the other historical characters, the circumstances and events can be relied upon as strictly accurate, save only in the earlier events of the career of Wallace, of which the details that have come down to us are somewhat conflicting, although the main features are now settled past question.
If you’re interested in history, particularly the early Scottish vs English conflict, it’s a great book to read. At one point it talks about some Scotts visiting Ireland to get their chiefs to side with the Scottish fight for independence. The description of the differences in their fighting was enlightening, as well as how they viewed defeat. Their chiefs basically said they didn’t see eye-to-eye on battle strategy, nor did they see the point of continuing to fight after they lost a battle.
After finishing the book, I have a new admiration for the people who fought their first war for independence. If Braveheart made your eyes tear up, this book may make you weep over their indomitable spirits.