302 pages, colour photos
Five years ago Ian Mitchell published Isles of the West, a unique and personal insight on the impact of "conservation bureaucracy" on the Inner Hebrides. It was the first and most sustained criticism of many of the organisations that manage land in Scotland for conservation, and took great interest in the apparent conflict between people and wildlife.
Scottish Natural Heritage and the RSPB take a bit of a hammering for their insensitive management and apparent enthusiasm to parachute-in wardens and managers with few social skills and an inability to integrate. What is more refreshing in this book, and what makes it such an addictive read, is the intriguing mixture of ancient and modern history and the influence of both on the present.
As a commentary on modern rural Scotland this book makes many telling points. Where it stands out is as a synthesis of the past and the present in two closely linked countries, cleverly brought together by fine travel writing, the problems of yachting in the far north and the important role played by Islay malts.
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