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The Highland Clearances Paperback – International Edition, January 7, 1969
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About the Author
John Prebble was an English journalist, novelist, documentarian and popular historian. He is best known for his studies of Scottish history.
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The author appears to have made considerable efforts to remain rational but the tale he has to tell is too powerful to remain supressed and the emotions come through. It is quite understandable.
This book blows away the chocolate box, sanitised version of the highlander. The kilt and bagpipes etc. were proscribed by a vengeful government after the rebellion was crushed in 1746. The greedy former feudal chiefs, deprived of their authority now betrayed their own people. Aided and abetted by opportunistic Lowland Scots and the Scottish and English authorities, the chiefs drove their clansmen off their lands and out of their houses and replaced them with more profitable sheep. The methods used to evict the people were brutal and often went to extremes. The Presbyterian church, with few exceptions supported the clearences. Sheep were given priority over people.
The evictions continued from 1785 to 1852, long after slavery was outlawed by the British Government. The methods of eviction, the forced emigrations overseas equalled if not exceeded those of the slave traders. How would you have liked two square feet of deck as your share of the ship to Canada, and you had to pay for it?
Britains loss of many thousands of highlanders became the gain of the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand as these hardy people formed new lives and communities far from their homelend.
This book should be read by all. Never again can I contemplate Scotland or Scots without seeing past the modern, tourist image and recalling the brutal reality of former times. The activities and methods of Al Quaeida and other terrorist groups are not new. Let all read this book and let us all resolve that man's inhumanity to man will not be tolerated, anywhere, ever.
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The Clearances were, after all, a process.Read more