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The Highland Clearances [Paperback]

Eric Richards
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 July 2007
Eric Richards describes the appalling conditions and treatment suffered by the Highland people, yet at the same time illustrates how difficult the choices were that faced even the most benevolent landlords in the face of rapid economic change. The Clearances were the most rugged and painful of many attempted 'solutions' to the problem of those who maintain a population on marginal and infertile land. In drawing attention away from the mythology or the hard facts of what actually happened, this book offers a balanced analysis of events which created a terrible scar on the Highland and Gaelic imagination, the historical legacy of which still lies unresolved in the twenty-first century.

Product details

  • Paperback: 486 pages
  • Publisher: Birlinn Ltd; 3Rev Ed edition (1 July 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841585424
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841585420
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 16.5 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 563,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description


Eric Richards is a fluent, lucid writer. --The Herald

Required reading ... not to be missed for its fearless and comprehensive grasp of the past and its relevance for today. --Ileach

An informative account devoid of the bias that has clouded the subject. --Scottish Field

About the Author

Eric Richards is Professor of History at Flinders University, Australia and previously taught at Stirling University, Scotland. His published work includes an acclaimed biography of Patrick Sellar, which was awarded the prize for Scottish History Book of the Year (1999) by the Saltire Society.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
SIR ARCHIBALD GEIKIE WITNESSED a Highland clearance in Skye in 1854. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Expert analysis of an infamous episode 25 Sep 2009
By Joolz
Despite the passing of a couple of centuries, the Highland Clearances is still an emotive subject guaranteed to raise the hackles of anybody who knows anything about it, highlanders and southerners alike. The story is simple and well known: how evil and greedy landlords forcefully evicted thousands of poor working folk from their homes to make way for more profitable sheep farms, often accompanied by violence, extreme hardship and even death, especially at the hands of cruel Patrick Sellar, a sub-factor in Sutherland.

Having read several excellent books and knowing the area of Sutherland, I knew the story pretty well. Or so I thought until I was lent a copy of Richards' excellent book! Of those I have come across, this is the first to get under the skin of the subject, to go beyond the emotional melodrama and anger that naturally informs most writing on the Clearances. Richards presents us with a lengthy and well balanced insight into the origins of, and reasons for, the decisions taken by Highland landlords in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is a story far more complex than the simple tale of woe outlined above.

Whilst never shying from acknowledged social implications of these events, Richards strips away the accumulated mythology to present and assess hard facts of what actually happened across the whole of the Highlands. He shows there were many types of removals other than the oft remembered violence encountered in Strathnaver and the lot of highland folk was far from cosy: the hills were overcrowded and unprofitable, famine and disease a constant accompaniment to subsistence living. Clearly there were rogues, but some benevolent landlords actively sought to support these people, either by improving their conditions or by assisting them to relocate.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shocking 27 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Despite being Scottish I am ashamed to say I knew very little about the clearances before reading this book, and it is a shocking eye-opener on a shameful part of our history.

Eric Richards writes very clearly, and I was able to complete reading the book in less than a week. The Kindle edition is (as usual) very well priced and overall I was delighted with the product.

My only quibble is that Eric Richards, in trying to be as complete and balanced, has covered most of the major, and also many of the minor clearances, individually and in detail, which makes reading it cover to cover extremely repetitive.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eric Richards, The Highland Clearances 22 April 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great book, in depth research revealing thoughtful perspective on the Clearances which led to Diaspora around the world, reducing the potential Scottish population to only 5 million today. A sad read, as it always is when indigenous people are kicked off their land.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5.0 out of 5 stars detailed and objective 8 April 2014
By Objective Fan - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well written, easy to read. More objective than some books I have read on this unhappy subject. Worth reading, you don't need to have a "heavy" background in Scotch history to understand the book. If you are interested in the Clearances for whatever reason, you will find this book useful.
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