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Frank R. Shaw FSA Scot
The Lords of the Isles by Raymond Campbell Paterson


one effort more and Scotlandís free
lord of the isles my trust in thee
-Sir Walter Scott

Raymond Campbell Paterson is a good, strong Scottish name! The Lords of the Isles is a good, strong title of some Scottish men who would be kings. When the author completed his research and his book by the same title, we had a good, strong Scottish story. Paterson has written a book about an oft-told story with insight and clarity, along with a refreshing style. Simply put, here is an easily readable book. Those who toil in the institutions of higher learning, as well as those who toil in the street, will find Patersonís book a delight. Or, if you please, both the "blue blood" and the "blue collar" will find this book enjoyable. One can tell that the author enjoys his work and is certainly worthy of his hire!

So many of us have ties to Scotland, and a good number of us have ties to the Western Isles, the Inner and Outer Hebrides. No matter what part of Scotland you claim as your Scottish heritage, this book is for you! What these men of the Isles accomplished impacted everyone in Scotland in one way or another. The author takes this old worn-out story, much of which borders on legend or myth, sharpens his pencil and writes a delightful 200-page book. Go back and look at the history this book covers and you will find Clan Donald controlling about one third of the kingdom of Scotland. That did not happen by real estate purchases at your local Century 21 or ReMax offices.

Does the author succeed in attempting to unravel Clan Donaldís story from a political history standpoint rather than giving us another dull book of genealogy about Mr. And Mrs. Begat? I believe he does and he gets right to the point. One thing my own little family can agree upon is that history is exciting. I taught high school history in another world as has my son Scott in this world, and his wife Denise still teaches it today. Another thing we can agree on is that this is a book that will stand the test of time. One reason is that all we have talked about up to now comes from the Forward of the book. Imagine what awaits the reader beginning with Chapter One! Iíve read several histories on the Donalds and the Campbells. Some hit the mark. Some give it a lick and a miss. This book is among the former who hit the mark. It is an exciting book, and the maps are a great addition to the text.

Iíve always said the Lords of the Isles with their armada of boats had the equivalent of a water "super highway". They could move about quickly and their reach, over time, extended from Ireland through Lochaber in Inverness-shire to Ross-shire on the Black Isle - no mean feat. Compare it to taking the A9 today out of Perth through the mountains to Inverness. It pleased me to read the first sentence in the first chapter: "For the people of the west the sea is a highway, not a barrier". Their strength could be attributable to being able to move their fighting men of war and supplies from place to place in speedy fashion, while some of those they were fighting had to rely on their troop movement by foot.

This is a book of pride and destruction (we all know what the Good Book teaches about pride that "goeth before destruction"). It is a book about the search for lost glory, the fall of the house of Dunyveg, the war against King Campbell, and the sorrow of Glencoe. As some would say, "It is no joy without Clan Donald". Who are these men who would be kings? It is a story, a real story, of men who had it all and lost just as much, if not more, since some lost their lives. The general story of this book will be very familiar to some of you, and I say to you the same as I would say to a beginner Ė "Youíll enjoy reading the book and you will be glad you bought it." Check with Ward Weems & Sons for a copy: ISBN 1 84158 097 X. Wardís new toll free number is 1-888-705-0255 or you can go to Weems@edge.net.

One final note Ė From time to time, I am asked why I do not write critical reviews or negative ones. I feel deeply that there are enough little negative issues in and among the Scottish community without my being a contributor. If I do not like a book or the premise the author puts forth, or if I feel the author has played loose with the facts or taken advantage of a situation, and there are such books floating around out there, I simply do not review the book. I look at my task as being one to motivate someone to consider a book, to gently push him or her toward the cash register hoping they will have as wonderful a time with their new book as I have had with mine.

You see, I have this love affair that my wife has known about and put up with for nearly 30 years. It is a love affair that is deep, abiding and very fulfilling that takes up a lot of my time and money. Iím addicted. I cannot shake it or get over this wonderful love affair that has enriched my life. This is a confession of one manís great love for books! There are walls of books on all three levels of my house, from inexpensive paperbacks to expensive leather bound volumes.

I was smitten early on when I learned to read but had no money for books back then and neither did my parents. The Hardy Boys may as well have been two brothers living down the street for all I knew. All of that has changed. I have already bought all of the Harry Potter books for wee Ian Bascombe Shaw, my nearly two-year old grandson. Susan, his Bonnie Gran, is working on a complete set of The Hardy Boys for him. Ian will have a baby sister, Stirling Elizabeth, by the time you read this, and I know a complete set of Nancy Drew books will not be far behind!

As a lad, reading was a way for me to journey into another world, a world that I was not a part of, but a world one day I hoped would be mine. It is! If you are willing to have a love affair with books, you couldnít have a better mistress. Some say that computers will one day replace books. While computers and the Internet have opened the eyes of our children and grandchildren, as well as broadening our own, there is nothing like a book! They will always be with us - the touch, the smell, the joy, the thrill, and the results, all make for a wonderful affair time and time again. Support a good author. Buy a good book. The Lords of the Isles is such a book, and Raymond Campbell Paterson is such an author.


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