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Isles of the North: A Voyage to the Realms of the Norse [Paperback]

Ian Mitchell
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 31 Aug 2004 --  

Book Description

31 Aug 2004
In the summer of 2002 Ian Mitchell set sail aboard the 30-foot yacht Foggy Dew on a voyage that took him from Islay through the Western Isles to Orkney and Shetland, and on to the west coast of Norway. Then, for five weeks, against the backdrop of one of the world's most spectacular coastlines, he sailed from the Nordfjord, via Bergen, to Utsira and back to Britain across the North Sea to Inverness. The object of his journey was much more than simply a desire to enjoy a summer on the open sea. In this sequel to the much acclaimed Isles of the West (1999), Ian Mitchell not only continues his investigation into the unsuccessful attempts by official Britain to administer rural areas for the combined benefit of people and nature, but also widens his scope of enquiry to show how Norway, a country outside the EU and thus free to manage its own affairs, has far more successfully dealt with the same issues on the islands off its western seaboard. The comparisons are striking, and lead Mitchell to consider what Britain can learn from the Norwegian approach. As in Isles of the West, he tells the larger story by way of well researched narrative, the specific experiences of people he met on hi

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Isles of the North: A Voyage to the Realms of the Norse + Isles of the West + Hebridean Sharker
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Birlinn Ltd; 1st edition (31 Aug 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841582980
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841582986
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 23.5 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,255,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ian Mitchell is the author of the best-selling Isles of the West: a Hebridean Voyage and Isles of the North: a Voyage to the Realms of the Norse. He also wrote the critically acclaimed study of the greatest libel trial in British legal history, The Cost of a Reputation: Aldington versus Tolstoy. Robert Harris said, "It reads like Bleak House rewritten by Alexander Solzhenitsyn", and the Independent on Sunday wrote, "As legal thrillers go, it beats John Grisham."

Ian Mitchell lives in Moscow, where he is researching a book about the history of the Russian legal system. He also runs a blog ab out the English language, called English Language Etiquette for Russians. It can be found at http://elerussians.blogspot.com

Product Description

Review

' - an engaging eccentric writer, with a style that can irritate, delight,inform and provoke serious reflection- all in equal measure' --The Herald --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

In the summer of 2002 Ian Mitchell set sail aboard the 30-foot yacht Foggy Dew on a voyage that took him from his home Islay through the Western Isles to Orkney and Shetland, and on to the west coast of Norway. Against the backdrop of one of the world’s most spectacular coastlines, he sailed up the Nordfjord, down to Bergen, then out to Utsira and back home via Inverness.
The object of his journey was more than just to enjoy a few contemplative drams during a summer at sea. In this sequel to his much acclaimed Isles of the West (1999), Mitchell continues his investigation into official Britain’s failure to administer rural Scotland for the mutual benefit of people and nature. He shows how Norway, a country outside the EU and therefore in control of its own resources, has been able to give a wide measure of freedom to the sort of communities which in Scotland are subject to debilitating control by Edinburgh, London and Brussels. He points to many lessons which centralised, bureaucratic Britain could learn from its more democratic neighbour across the North Sea.
As in Isles of the West, Mitchell’s narrative combines authoritative background information and personal interviews with local people, many enlivened by the measured dispensation of Scotland’s most famous aid to creative thought.
Islay • Mingulay • Barra • Lewis • Sula Sgeir • Rona • Orkney • Fair Isle • Foula • Shetland
Måløy • Nordfjord • Bremanger • Svanøy • Lygra •Bergen • Røvaer • Utsira

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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars
3.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Islands - paradise or hell? 22 Sep 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First of all, my qualifications for writing this review:
I have lived on an offshore island from the UK for 7 years - the Isle of Man
... and another one, The Orkney Mainland - for 2 years.
I have lived on an offshore island in Norway for the past 19 years - Harøy.

Ian Mitchell's descriptions of his boat journeys, and his encounters on the various islands, are fascinating and most enjoyable.
I wish I shared his navigational skills: I would love to do that sort of thing. His reflections on history and politics are also of great interest, and full of wisdom and insight.

The weakest link in this book is his reflections on Norway, which use unconvincing pseudonyms for his objects of interview. They resemble Scottish parodies of Norwegian names. Nowhere will you find an Øle Stingbakk, for example (Beer Stingbottom) whom he quotes on several occasions. Norway has also changed a great deal since this book was written, and is not as democratic as he portrays it. OK. Our ferries are cheaper than CalMac, but there is a lot more to it than that. Don't believe everything you read in this book!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
The Norway Mr. Mitchell finds is scarcely recognisable as my home of the last 12 years. It is, alas, a two-dimensional mockup designed to be favourably contrasted with his view of conditions in the Hebrides and west Highlands. In his book Norway appears as a place where, as he would wish for Scotland, wider society gives rural areas very large sums of money indeed but makes no demands on how it is spent (indeed, is thoroughly villainous if it does). Only the first part of this view is true: Norwegian rural areas are indeed subsidised at levels which make subventions from British society to the the Hebrides pale in comparison. However, how it is spent is to a large degree entailed in advance for various government-determined goals. The bureaucracy involved is highly complex, interventionist, and frequently complained about.

This book could have been so much more. The subject it deals with is important. But it is a tour of the author's mind, not of western Norway. Scots and others with a serious interest in this comparison will have to look elsewhere.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Ian Mitchell's journey to the Northern Isles & Scandanavia is a wonderful exploration of some remote and spectacular country. The people he meets are engaging, the scenery he describes, is breathtaking, the politics and history, fascinating. His self depricating humour is amusing and his crew are quirky & interesting.
It is a pity he doesn't show the same good manners to the poor conservationists he harangues & mocks as he tours around. His analyses of the conservation industry in his previous book " Isles of the West" was as fascinating as it was timely. This time round it reads like a tired obsession and jars the flow of an otherwise very readable book.
Perhaps it is time for Mr Mitchell to ditch this particular obsession over the side.
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