The Invisible Spirit (book)

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The Invisible Spirit: A Life of Post-War Scotland 1945-75 is a book by the journalist Kenneth Roy published by Birlinn in 2013.


Kenneth Roy's panorama of post-war Scottish life begins with the VE night celebrations in the spring of 1945 and ends with the coming onstream of North Sea oil in the autumn of 1975. It was the formative period in the making of modern Scotland, but it is a period little explored in depth and not fully understood until now. Using a wealth of contemporary accounts, the book tells a complex and often disturbing story of a country riven by poverty, struggling for a sense of its own identity, and ill-served by its masters. The Invisible Spirit is unsparing in its examination of the failings of the Scottish establishment. It delivers a stinging indictment of political complacency and judicial incompetence and shows that, too often, the interests of Scotland and its people were betrayed. It exposes how, time and again, the truth was covered up in order to protect the powerful and how the press acquiescently accepted a far from reliable official version of events. The book is also, however, the story of ordinary lives the aspirations, the hardships and the achievements of the Scots themselves. Richly varied in mood from the controversial to the amusing, The Invisible Spirit is both entertaining and compelling. It provides a unique perspective on Scotland at a turning point in its long history.


Ian Jack in the Guardian wrote:

[T]his isn't a nationalist narrative or even a particularly political one. Instead, it cures a deficit in Scotland's popular history. Roy's long career as a reporter makes him particularly enjoyable as a sharp and lively narrator of the crimes, controversies, campaigns and disasters that held Scottish attention but often went unnoticed or made only a slight impression in the south.[1]


  1. Ian Jack, 'Review: The Invisible Spirit', Guardian, 21 November 2013.