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The Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers Paperback – May, 2001
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is very well-organized. Fraser starts with a few pages on the long historical background, then takes about half the book to cover the reivers by topic: chapters on arms and armour; on reiving technique; on the key families and their alliances; on cross-border relations; on the administrative structure. Fraser gives a lot of details, and plenty of quotes from the original sources (with the original spellings!).
This painstaking coverage sets up the second half of the book perfectly: one hundred and forty pages that cover the history of the border chronologically through the sixteenth century. With the details in hand, the second half is easy to follow and put in context; the writing is also clear and entertaining.
The last section of the book details the uncompromising way in which King James I destroyed the reivers in a few short years after 1603. It is a startlingly bloodthirsty story: Fraser includes quotes from blanket pardons that King James issued to some of his enforcers, which essentially say "whatever murders you did, I'm sure it was in a good cause, and you're absolved".Read more ›
This is a very scholarly book and exceptionally well written. The author must have done an incredible amount of research to put this together. I read it twice, the second time noting how many references to Croziers(Crosers) there were. My father's family name is in there 26 times. Along with the Armstrongs, Nixons and Eliots, we were considered the worst of the worst of the reivers. Maybe not something to be proud of, but interesting. According to my mother(God rest her soul)her paternal grandfather was the illegitmate son of the Duke of Buccleugh(you'll hear a lot about the Scotts of Buccleugh, many of whom had the same name of Walter, including the famous one), so I have Reiver blood from there too. Fascinating book especially if you have a surname that might go back to that part of the world and those times.
What I have written here is just a taste of the whole book. A little heavy going at times, but so good that I have read it twice already and now use it as a research tool.
The story of the Anglo-Scots border is a complex and a bloody one. MacDonald Fraser manages to understand, without condoning, the hard men who fought and died, rode and raided across the border between the kingdoms of England and Scotland. He untangles the knotted threads of their family ties and feuds and reveals their part in the wider relations between England and Scotland prior to the union of the Crowns in 1603. He dives into the dusty depths of the written records and brings them back to us red in tooth and claw.
At a time when the border between England and Scotland looks as though it may become an international, rather than a domestic border once more, this book should be of relevence to all with an interest in and love of these two nations.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The usual incisive, drole, intelligent and clear eyed writing we exxpect from this master observer of the human condition.Published 23 days ago by C.J.Robinson
I thought it will be more entertaining instead of just a historical analysis of Scottish history at the time. Very detailed but not very engaging. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Miklos A. Paulovits
As a fan of Science Fiction movies, and a fan of Firefly/Serenity the TV/Movie I thought reivers were a made up thing. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Skandia Recluse
Its a fascinating read of the events along the borders of Scotland and England during the 1500 & 1600's. Much research appears to be given to the events, names and places. Mr. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
I was looking for information on my family name, and where we cane from in England. I really enjoyed this read. Extremely well written, and very informative. Read morePublished 3 months ago by John W. Noble
I picked up this book at the NH Highland Games in September 2015 and I'm loving it. As a Bell, my family's heritage is that of a Border Reiver. Thieves and raiders the lot of us! Read morePublished 3 months ago by Peggy Nolan
I knew nothing but that there were 'troubles'. I will have to get past London on next trip to UK.Published 5 months ago by Searover
A detailed history of a important piece of Scot history.. particularly if your family name is part of the low-land scot group. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Glenn A. Marin