In Bed with an Elephant

by Ludovic Kennedy,
419 pages,
ISBN: 0593023269

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Brief Reviews
by Alexander Craig

Speaking in Washington, D.C., in March l969, the then Canadian prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, said, "Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant: No matter how friendly and even-tempered the beast, one is affected by every twitch and grunt." In In Bed with An Elephant: A Journey through Scotland's Past and Present (Doubleday/Bantam, 394 pages, $32.95 cloth), Ludovic Kennedy notes that Pierre Trudeau had his problems with the American elephant. Today in Scotland there are a growing and articulate number of people who feel it is time to ask the English elephant to move over, or, better still, out.

Yet comparisons with Canada, or elsewhere, are non-existent. Nor does he directly address the intractable question of getting "the English elephant" out of Scotland. The Scots are as mixed up as the Quebeckers about the type of nationalism they want to put up with, or support.

Kennedy is a distinguished British writer, broadcaster, and fighter for civil liberties. He covers the classic heroes and periods well (incomparably better and more fully, needless to say, than Hollywood). There's a good choice of photographs and reproductions of paintings and cartoons, and parts of this work will serve as a good handbook for visitors.

The author describes himself an "Anglo-Scot". He's an Old Etonian, knighted in 1994. In the great British tradition, particularly popular among the Anglo-Scots, he believes class is much, much less important in Scotland than England, but as an honest writer has to contradict himself, convincingly, just a few pages later.

This is a book about roots; it's for entertainment rather than analysis. He's not at home in politics, like many of his fellow classical Liberals (with a capital L)-which is why they've remained out on the fringe, particularly the Celtic part of it, since that most boisterous of Celts, David Lloyd George, led them there just after the First World War. But the book conveys well the romance and nostalgia of Scotland.

Alexander Craig


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