It was refreshing to hear perspectives and concerns from Scots and others who aren't Americans. The Book Festival was particularly meaningful, with the opportunity to hear from investigative journalists, social commentators, and political satirists from the UK and elsewhere in the EU. One (huge) book made its way home with me - "The Exile: The Flight of Osama Bin Laden" by Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark. After hearing their presentation, I was hooked. It's available now in the US, under a slightly different subtitle (and perhaps edited to remove embarrassing information about the US?). If you read it, tell me your reactions.
If you're curious about immigration issues/opinions in Europe, you might read Douglas Murray's "The Strange Death of Europe." While he's clearly a man with nationalist tendencies and perspectives, it is useful to hear what's happening across the pond. Murray posits that Europe is committing cultural suicide with currents waves of immigrants. He's a rational writer and speaker, and offers a view that makes the contrasts between US and European concerns and histories more evident.
A music highlight was Anoushka Shankar in concert at Usher Hall (International Festival). The opening act was the legendary Faiz Ali Faiz, playing powerful Qawwali (Sufi) devotional and ecstatic songs. Shankar spoke about many of her causes, including religious tolerance. She remarked that this concert featuring a Pakistani and an Indian was unique in these troubled times in south Asia. If you have an opportunity to see either Shankar or Faiz, don't miss the chance!
The Modern Maori Quartet (find them on Facebook at @ModernMaoriQuartet) were absolutely excellent and so entertaining; I hope they'll be back.
As for theater, the Fringe won out for me. Mouthpiece, presented by Toronoto writers/actors Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava (playing a single character, who's just lost her mother) was spellbinding. And James Rowland's performance of Every Brilliant Thing was, well, simply brilliant. Both of these were at Summerhall, my absolute favorite Fringe venue.
Consider visiting Edinburgh in August to experience FESTIVAL heaven! (And, yes, I still like haggis.)