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The Highland Clearances Paperback – 1 Jul 2007

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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: 19.8 x 16.8 x 4.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 482,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

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SIR ARCHIBALD GEIKIE WITNESSED a Highland clearance in Skye in 1854. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Joolz on 25 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
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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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Borders Lynn on 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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By Julie on 23 Jan. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well written and extensively researched.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By george on 15 Dec. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
Excellent exploration of the Highland Clearances 5 Oct. 2014
By John D. Mackintosh - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Context is vitally important in fairly assessing any historical event or trend. Eric Richards book on the Highland Clearances serves ss a good example of this in that he places the clearances against the backdrop of similar rural population displacement throughout Western Europe as the drive towards modernity in agricultural and commerical practices swept across the 18th and 19th centuries. That said, he also draws out and explains those elements that made and still make the Clearances a flashpoint for emotion--everything from evictions accompanied by the burning of cottages as tenants were ejected to wholesale emigration as the result of such inhumane practices. This is not a polemic against landowners though, as the book explores those who were loath to eject tenants and replace them with sheep even when not doing so was detrimental to a landowners financial security. Dr. Richards deals fairly with all sides of the economic and social issues surrounding the Highland Clearances so that the reader is left with a clear, although at times rather dry, sense of all that was involved in the Highland Clearances. The book concludes with a question and answer chapter on the Clearances that helps brings it all together. I wish the book had included more detail on the events of the 1880s, the so-called Crofters War, that took place in reaction to the Clearances that reached their peak in mid-century. This is especially the case since he has included a picture and caption of John Macpherson, one of the "Glendale Martyrs" but yet overlooks mentioning him in the text. Having visited the Isle of Skye recently and seen the monument to Macpherson and others at Glendale, it would have been good to learn more about him and the entire Glendale story. .

All in all though, it is is hard to imagine another author doing a better job on the complex demographic, economic and social issues surrounding the Highland Clearances. Excellent work.
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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