one effort more and
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
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
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.