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Donald S. Murray spent much of his childhood either playing or working on the moor, chasing sheep across empty acres and cutting and gathering peat for fuel.
The Dark Stuff is an examination of how this landscape affected him and others. Donald explores his early life on the Isle of Lewis together with the experiences of those who lived near moors much further afield, from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland to the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland and even Australia. Examining this environment in all its roles and guises, Donald reflects on the ways that for centuries humans have represented the moor in literature, art and folktale, and he reveals how in some countries, these habitats remain an essential aspect of their industrial heritage and working life today.
On his journey, Donald confronts the unexpected – how Europe's peatlands are part of the dark heart of that continent, playing a crucial role in the history of crime and punishment in several countries. He also examines our current perception of moorland, asking how – for the sake, perhaps, of our planet's survival – we can learn to love a landscape we have all too often in our history denigrated, feared and despised.
Donald S. Murray comes from Ness at the northern tip of the Isle of Lewis and now lives in Shetland. Donald is an award-winning writer, playwright, and poet. His last book, Herring Tales, was one of The Guardian's nature books of the year in 2015, as was his previous book, The Guga Stone, in 2013.
"[...] This book will fascinate those interested in peatland characteristics as well as peatland demise and its myriad causes."
– Antoinette M. Mannion, BES Bulletin 49(2), June 2018