Companion book’s format geared towards general audience

Jamie Heap
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The Book Review: Bearing the People Away: The Portable Highland Clearances Companion.  By June Skinner Sawyers. (Sydney, Cape Breton: CBU Press), $24.95, 318 pages.

Glasgow, Scotland native June Skinner Sawyers of Chicago, Illinois, who has written/edited over 20 books, has outdone herself in Bearing the People (CBU Press), a book which provides insight into one of the most defining moments in Scottish/British history: the Highland Clearances.

Between 1790 and 1855, tens of thousands of Gaelic-speaking people living in the Scottish Highlands and Islands were evicted from their native land to make room for cattle, sheep, farms and sporting estates that were deemed more profitable to the Britain’s economy than were the Gaels. The result: the destruction of an indigenous Scottish cultural group forced to relocate to Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada.

“My interest in the Highland Clearances began a long time ago,” writes Sawyers. “In the mid-1980s, if I recall correctly, when I bought a copy of John Prebble’s The Highland Clearances at the Inverness Museum in the capital of the Highlands. I read it from cover to cover several times.”

Some three decades later, Sawyers penned her own portable book on the Highland Clearances for Cape Breton University Press that is part reference guide, part hand book, part travel guide and part resource that alphabetically transports readers through the Highland Clearances, a tragic event that other scholars have either attempted to downplay or maintained was an inevitable part of economic history and progress.

Complete with a chronology of the major events in the history of the Highlands and Islands, an Appendix, reference and an index sections, Bearing the People Away: The Portable Highlands Clearances Companion, is the only single volume companion book on the topic.

Jamie Heap's book reviews appear every Friday in The Amherst News.

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