Four centuries after they were written, these words are still used to summon up the courage to do the right thing, rather than submit to the easy option. The man who wrote them, James Graham, First Marquis of Montrose, lived at a time when British central government was arbitrary and authoritarian in its control but weak in genuine policies. Slippery deals, cynical spin, smug grandees and greedy newcomers were rife. As Britain fragmented into civil war under the burden of the separate ambitions of a host of political opportunists, Montrose fought against the unholy alliance between extreme Puritanism and parliamentary hypocrisy. He was executed in Edinburgh at the age of 37 Montrose was scholarly and widely-travelled. His words were full of wit and vision. Above all, they have the immediacy of personal engagement in the battle to save Scotland from lapsing back into its old endemic vulnerability. "To Win Or Lose It All" gives today's reader a unique chance to compare the passions that divided a badly devolved Britain then and now.
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