In 1969 John McPhee, a staff writer on The New Yorker, decided to transport himself and his family across the ocean and to live, for a time, on the tiny Hebridean island of his forefathers. His children enrolled at the island school and the family took up residence in a crofthouse, being accepted readily into the local community. Thus John McPhee, an accomplished author of international renown, came to devote some months to the meticulous study of a distinctive society.
"The Crofter and the Laird" was the extraordinary result, a work of literary genius. This is not a traveller's tale, nor is it a study of the history or topography of an island; it is instead a perfect mirror of the interactions and relationships of a living and coherent community, one which can be examined and understood only because it is so tightly circumscribed.