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When I Heard the Bell: The Loss of the Iolaire Paperback – 2 Jun 2015

4.5 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Birlinn Ltd; 1st Edition Thus edition (2 Jun. 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184158858X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841588582
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 2.3 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 151,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'evocative and wholly magnificent' --Roger Hutchinson, The Scotsman

About the Author

John MacLeod was born in Lochaber in 1966. After graduating from Edinburgh University, he began his career at BBC Highland in Inverness and quickly established himself as a freelance writer. He won Scottish Journalist of the Year in 1991 and contributed regularly to The Scotsman and The Herald. He is presently a columnist with the Scottish Daily Mail and is the author of several books. He lives on a croft on the west side of Lewis with a small, elderly dog, two melodeons, a 4-oven Aga and far too many chickens. He is the author of Banner in the West, also published by Birlinn.


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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
For the people of Lewis, this book is long overdue. It tells the story of an event that had a catastrophic effect on that Hebidean island and does this with great authority and style, writing of the sinking of the 'Iolaire' outside Stornoway harbour on 1st January 1919. The vessel was full of servicemen returning home after the First World War; over 200 being drowned a short distance from the island they called home. It was a toll of life all the more terrible after the sacrifice of the war that had gone before.

It was an incident, too, that had a cataclysmic effect on the people of the islands of Lewis and Harris, robbing many rural communities of the young men on whom their future depended.

The power of this book is the way it not only tells the story, but also the manner in which it places the tragedy in context, both local and 'international' and shows how it influenced the later history of these islands.

The author John Macleod deserves praise for the way he has mastered - what must have been - harrowing and gruelling information, and fashioned into a masterpiece of fluent and fascinating prose. As a native of that island, I am in his debt for the way he has done this. So, too, are many others who were brought up in a landscape scarred - even today - by this terrible event. At long last, he has removed the tight gap of both time and place and allowed its victims to speak.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very well written, very interesting and moving account of a tragic and, now, little known incident. The author paints a vivid and sympathetic picture of island life, of the chaos of the night of the incident and its aftermath. I thoroughly recommend it. David Stallard
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a detailed and often emotive account of the events during one fateful night when over 200 men lost their life in a tragic, but avoidable shipping disaster. Much of the poignancy of the tale lies in the fact that a majority were returning at the end of the First World War. Having given service to their country and survived, they were literally within yards of their homes and loved ones when they were snatched away. The amount of research to record the detail must have been phenomenal. It's an event which seems to be part of the psyche of the area, but typical of the stoicism of these islanders, has been kept within that area. This tragedy is not one that's widely known,but it deserves greater recognition. There were acts of amazing bravery that night.

I found the detail both compelling and fascinating. More so, having recently discovered close immediate family connections to a number of 'names' so in all probability, relatives were involved. That aside, it's a no holds barred account and a important social record and testament to all involved. Thank you Mr MacLeod.
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Format: Hardcover
THE AUTHOR JOHN MACLEOD OBVIOUSLY INTERVIEWED FAMILIES WHO LOST LOVED ONES IN THIS TRAGIC EVENT.ITS TOLL ON FAMILIES AND THE ISLANDS WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN IT ALSO TOUCHED PEOPLE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. WELL WORTH BUYING.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My review is going to be short & sweet. This is the best book ive ever read. {In saying that Ive still got to read John`s other book "River of Fire"}

Although its a tragic story, the author keeps you interested and unable to put the book down. The hardships faced by the families before & after the disaster will long live with me. I bemoan the way people today endlessly complain about how hard they find their life, how little they know of hardship.

Buy the book, read & re read, then tell others to do the same.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When I heard the bell, "The loss of the Iolaire"
What can one say about this book other than excellent?
I first heard of this tragedy well over forty years ago when as a young student I was in the company of a number of Lewis folk and one lady told me all she knew about it and how it tore the heart out of Lewis people especially as it happened on their own doorstep and after four years of the first world war.
Last year I visited the site while I was on holiday and saw the actual "beasts" that claimed so many lives on a night that in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland people would normally let their hair down and have a good time with music merriment and laughter.
Sadly this was not to be on the 1st January 1919 in Lewis.
This book is a wonderful story explaining everything in detail and the author "John Macleod" has made an excellent job of it.
Finally take it from me, a visit to the site is well worth it as you will see for yourselves just how close to the shore "the beasts" are and just how close to Stornoway the accident happened.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Interesting and very tragic subject and one that rightly deserves to be remembered and the impact on the islands and islanders recognised, However it had a tendency to drag at times and the frequent repetition of lists of those involved in the tragedy was distracting and unnecessary. I also found it somewhat disjointed although I appreciate that the author was trying to extrapolate different strands of the story - the event itself, the aftermath, the investigation etc. Some of the most poignant and effective elements of the whole book were the stories of either survivors or the close relatives of those who died
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