"Scotland the Brave: A Tragedy" by Ivar Alastair Watson is an enjoyable and thought-provoking novel about one man's struggle to make his way, and live up to his principles, in a Scotland now long gone: but a Scotland that has echoes and reverberations for the country we live in today.
Ishmael McCulloch is a Scot who became a hero when serving as a junior officer in the Korean War. But the war is now in the past, and Ishmael must deal with the rapidly changing Scotland he finds around him. Having been rejected by a Clyde shipyard owner when applying to be manager of the yard, he instead takes up a post as manager of the large Loch Mhor estate situated somewhere west of Achnasheen in Wester Ross. The author notes at the beginning of the book that some geographical "inexactitude" is deliberate, and this introduces an interesting and attractive haziness to the story. Real places are mingled with fictional, and geography is altered to change actual relationships and distances between locations.
Ishmael finds his arrival is far from welcome by those who have been exploiting the estate for their own benefit, including most of the men working for him. An increasingly violent series of confrontations with poachers drives the book steadily towards a climax that seems inevitable. But Ishmael also takes time out to address the problems of the Clyde shipyard whose owner initially rejected him: and to pursue his relationship with the shipyard owner's daughter.
If the geography shows signs of deliberate "inexactitude", then so does the setting in terms of time. Ishmael's apparently fairly recent Korean experience places the action in the 1950s, while a reference to National Service places it in the early 1960s at the latest. Yet this is also a Scotland that has Range Rovers (launched in 1970), and which knows of trade unionist "Red Robbo", who came to fame in the latter half of the 1970s. This "temporal inexactitude" contributes a sense of timelessness to the book which helps highlight the relevance of some of the events to the preoccupations of modern Scotland: as the author doubtless intended given that his book was published just three months before the Scottish Independence Referendum takes place.