"Whenever I smell salt water, I know that I am not far from one of the works of my ancestors." --Robert Louis StevensonThe 14 lighthouses dotting the Scottish coast were all built by the same family that produced Robert Louis Stevenson, Scotland's most famous novelist. Surprised? Bella Bathurst throws a powerful, revolving light into the darkness of this historical tradition. Robert Louis was a sickly fellow, and--unlike the rest of his strong-willed, determined family--certainly not up to the astonishing rigors of lighthouse building, which is vividly described here. Constructing these towering structures in the most inhospitable places imaginable (such as the aptly named Cape Wrath), using only 19th-century technology, is an achievement that beggars belief. One thinks of the pyramid building of ancient Egypt. At the Skerryvore lighthouse, the ground rocks were prepared by hand (even though the "gneiss could blunt a pick in three blows") in waves and winds "strong enough to lift a man bodily off the rock" and that "it took 120 hours to dress a single stone for the outside of the tower, and 320 hours to dress one of the central stones. In total 5000 tons of stone were quarried and shipped"--and all by hand. It is mind-boggling stuff: you'll look at lighthouses with a new respect. --Adam Roberts, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A real-life Shipping News, Bathurst's flamboyant and elegantly written saga is bursting with life, laced with romantic dreams, oversized ambitions, murder, piracy, nepotism, smoldering feuds, scientific ingenuity and the lonely heroism of men battling the elements. Bathurst tells how four generations of Robert Louis Stevenson's family designed and built the 97 manned lighthouses that speckle the Scottish coast. A reluctant engineer turned writer, RLS transmuted his lighthouse-building expeditions around Scotland's northern coast into Treasure Island and Kidnapped, but he rebelled against his quarrelsome father, Thomas, who tried to corral him into the family business. The rest is literary history. Much less well-known is the Lighthouse Stevensons' extraordinary family history: they built harbors, canals, railways and street lighting systems, and contributed numerous inventions to optics, engineering and architecture. Yet, out of stubborn altruistic pride, no family member ever took out a patent on any of their inventions. Even readers with no special interest in the sea or Scotland will be swept up in Bathurst's narrative, intriguingly illustrated with photographs, prints and drawings. Sir Walter Scott, Michael Faraday and Daniel Defoe stalk through these pages, and Bathurst unveils the Lighthouse Stevensons' battles, accomplishments, frustrations and personal tragedies against a backdrop of the Scottish Enlightenment, the advent of British naval supremacy, the Crimean War, the destruction of Highland society and the uneasy marriage of Scotland and England. She also devotes a marvelous, wistful chapter to the lost art of lighthouse-keepingAall of Britain's lighthouses are now automated, computers having replaced keepers. Her exuberant family drama is an enchantment. Author tour. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
great great great great great good good goood good good good good good good good good good good this is silly. either you want all this or nothing. That's crazy.Published 19 months ago by Amazon Customer
A great book but it would really benefit from having picutures of the lighthouses and maps of their locations. Read morePublished on March 19, 2013 by juliag
this was an excellent book...the story of Robert Louis Stevenson's family
in Scotland...they were determined to build lighthouses to protect sailors
and ships which... Read more
It's hard to imagine that a book about lighthouses would be a page-turner, but this one is. The tale of how multiple generations of Stevensons (with a Smith or two thrown in there)... Read morePublished on January 31, 2009 by Avid Reader
I happen to think that the history of engineering is amazing, awesome. inspiring. This book is about the Stevenson family who built the majority of lighthouses around England in... Read morePublished on February 10, 2007 by Sesquepedalia
This book should appeal to anyone with an interest in lighthouses or the sea, engineering, Scotland or, although there is not much about him in the book, Robert Louis Stevenson. Read morePublished on May 24, 2005 by Calum in the Caribbean
What comes across loud and clear was the desperate need for navigation aids on the coast of Britain in the 18th Century; in 1800, Lloyds reckoned they were losing one ship a day... Read morePublished on June 16, 2002 by Tony Watson
I like the books by R.L.Stevenson so its really cool to see how he came by his experience. Granddad was a driven guy who forced everyone into the family business. R. Read morePublished on February 14, 2002 by G. Powell
Thanks to the staggering success of Dava Sobel's _Longitude_ a few years back, we now have a flourishing subgenre of similar works. Read morePublished on August 29, 2001 by A. Bowdoin Van Riper