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The Liberty Tree
The Stirring Story of Thomas Muir and Scotland’s First Fight for Democracy


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The Liberty Tree
The Stirring Story of Thomas Muir and Scotland’s First Fight for Democracy

by Murray Armstrong (Author)



ISBN: 9780992739225


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The Liberty Tree: The Stirring Story of Thomas Muir and Scotland’s First Fight for Democracy by Murray Armstrong (Paperback) (ISBN: 9780992739225)

"... superbly written and researched biography of the founding father of Scottish Democracy, Thomas Muir. Congratulations on writing a wonderful tribute to a Scottish hero I greatly admire and tried to bring to the fore in The Patiot Bard and in The Canongate Burns. Thomas Muir has now been put firmly into the radical political cultural history of Scotland by a great writer. Let's push to get the statue at Holyrood he deserves." Patrick Scott Hogg, author of The Canongate Burns and Robert Burns

"Armstrong’s book... is an outstanding contribution to bringing Muir and his radical peers back into their rightful place in Scottish consciousness. It is, indeed, an important contribution to not only our historical but our literary awareness." Dr Andrew Noble, Leverhulme Emeritus Fellow, Journal of Scottish Irish Studies

"Muir’s story is a gripping one, and Armstrong – rightly – is determined to recreate a living past, not simply exhume a heap of dry bones. Indeed, he attempts to combine industrious archival research with a novelistic approach to history. Purists might blanch at the sections where Armstrong’s sources fail him and he resorts to the imaginative arts of the historical novelist to fill unavoidable chasms in the written record. Elsewhere, his narrative is solidly grounded in extant speeches and court transcripts – though even with a rich body of endnotes it is sometimes difficult to be wholly certain where research stops and reconstruction begins." Colin Kidd, Guardian

“Armstrong took early retirement from the Guardian so that he could write about Scottish radical Thomas Muir. In the aftermath of the French Revolution, this Edinburgh lawyer was one of many who were viewed with deep suspicion by a corrupt and nepotistic state. In 1792, Muir demanded the vote for all Scottish men. For his impertinence, he was convicted of a trumped-up charge of seditious libel and transported to Australia. Painstaking research and imaginative recreation combine in a biography that’s informative and highly absorbing. Armstrong’s account of the trial is electrifying, and he gets close as he can to the truth about Muir’s adventures after escaping Botany Bay, a saga which has in the past been clouded by rumour and fancy. Armstrong has a storyteller’s gift honed through years of journalism, and this book could prove appealing to readers who might not normally be tempted by Scottish history” The Herald

"[It] draws on Muir scholarship and imagination to tell the compelling story of Muir's trajectory as radical, agitator and democratic hero.... It has been deeply researched and considered, and the author pays the reader the compliment of detailed and thoughtful footnotes and a helpful bibliography... " David Stenhouse, Scotland on Sunday

"This book is a must read." Socialist Review

"Murray’s superb research is skilfully woven with narrative that seamlessly brings to life the incredible story of one of Scotland’s greatest unsung heroes." Jimmy Watson, Chair, Friends of Thomas Muir

"The theme Armstrong pursues, and which dominated Muir's political career, namely whether democracy is best served by reform of the Union or by breaking with it, is central to contemporary Scottish public life and is likely to remain so, whatever the outcome of the Referendum." Neil Davidson, University of Glasgow, author of 'The Origins of Scottish Nationhood'; 'Discovering the Scottish Revolution 1692-1746', winner of the Deutscher Memorial Prize

"A truly enjoyable read, Murray has captured the true story of the oppression in 18th century Britain. He has admirably portrayed the part that Thomas Muir played in his attempts to bring democracy to all men in Britain. This is a book based on historical facts which is still relevant in today’s world as much now as then." Alex Watson, Huntershill, Friends of Thomas Muir

'The Liberty Tree' is a historical novel about the life and struggles of the Scottish Radical Thomas Muir (1765 – 1799). At the same time the author recreates events using the actual recorded words of the participants (eg. the famous exchanges between Braxfield and Gerrald during the latter's trial) and as such 'The Liberty Tree' also stands as a vivid, well-researched historical account of the life of Thomas Muir.

Murray Armstrong was born in Airdrie, Lanarkshire. He was a journalist who spent the final twenty-one years of his career at the Guardian which he joined in 1987 as a features sub-editor. He was Associate Editor at the time of his early retirement in 2008 which he took with the express intention of writing about Thomas Muir having nurtured an interest in the man and his times for many years.


ISBN 992739225
ISBN13 9780992739225
Publisher Word Power Books
Format Paperback
Publication date 23/10/2014
Pages 552
Weight (grammes) 851
Published in United Kingdom
Height (mm) 215
Width (mm) 145