The Scots had an enormous impact on the global development of the British Empire as emigrants, soldiers, merchants and colonial administrators. Scotland's Empires provides a comprehensive examination of their crucial role during the formative era of the imperial endeavour. The book ranges from the Americas to Australia and from the Caribbean islands to India. It explores in depth many key themes, including the slave trade, the Scots on the colonial frontier, Highland soldiers, the saga of the Ulster Scots, the effect of the Scottish Enlightenment and the connection between empire and the economic revolution in Scotland itself.
It is a powerful, fascinating story, and by isolating it in some measure from the wider British story Devine throws up all kinds of marvellous material on a unique national experience. The Scots by no measure had any moral edge over other imperial nations, but their contribution was certainly very different and carried its own mixed bag of motives and desires.