Is the development of a new British history of the early modern period a boon or a bane for those interested in the history of Scotland (or, for that matter, Ireland, Wales, even England)? Such a false antithesis we might normally confine to our examination papers; but it is difficult to avoid considering it after reading the five books under review here. Professor Burns has written a superb account of Scottish political thought in the long sixteenth century and Dr Coffey an equally successful exploration of the mind of the leading ideologist of the Covenanters. The collection edited by Dr Mason, which connects with the Burns study at several points, is explicitly a view of Scottish political thought focused on the Union of 1603, while that edited by Dr Robertson drops the particular emphasis on Scottish thought in its exploration of the intellectual context to the Union of 1707. Professor Speck presents us with a slightly different problem: a volume in a series on the history of early modern England that takes as the central theme of English politics in the decade 1700–10 the birth of Britain. Each of these books is rewarding, at the very least ; together their effect may be disquieting.