St Andrews in Fife is famous throughout the world as the home of golf. It is also home to the oldest university in Scotland, and the third oldest in the English-speaking world. If this were not enough, it served as centuries as a centre of ecclesiastical power in Scotland, and is home to the ruins of what was once the largest cathedral in the country. What makes it especially attractive to modern visitors is that it combines ample evidence of its wealth of history with a lovely coastal setting and a very cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Many books have been written about St Andrews, and some of them have been very good. Why should anyone pick up "St Andrews History Tour" by Helen Cook from the bookshop shelf, still less pay its modest cover price? The phrase "less is more" has become a bit of a cliche, but there are times when it can hold true. This lovely little book will show you just how true it can be. It's small enough to overlook entirely on the shelf, but carries a value that far outweighs its modest stature. What you have, to put it at its simplest, is a pocket guide to historical St Andrews: a book that you can carry around with you and actually use as a practical guide without it getting in the way or weighing you down.
The book begins with a short introduction to the story of St Andrews. We are then given a double-page map which is clear and helpful, and which just avoids losing information in the binding of the book. The map carries a geographical key to all but a couple of the 47 historical attractions described in the main body of the book. These are ordered in a way that provides a walking tour of St Andrews. That. at least, is the theory. On our copy the numbers on the map appeared, from quite early in the sequence, to be one greater than the numbers given for the sections they referred to in the remainder of the book, which adds a certain challenge to following the tour on the ground. The individual sections each cover a page or two, and each uses an old photograph as background, over which has been printed up to half a page of well researched text.