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Who Built Scotland: A History of the Nation in Twenty-Five Buildings

by Alexander McCall Smith, Alistair Moffat, James Crawford, James Robertson and Kathleen Jamie

Writers Kathleen Jamie, Alexander McCall Smith, Alistair Moffat, James Robertson and James Crawford tell the story of Scotland through 25 buildings scattered across the landscape, from abandoned islands and lonely glens to the heart of Scotland's great cities. Who Built Scotland is a landmark exploration of Scotland's social, political and cultural histories. Moving from Neolithic families, exiled hermits and ambitious royal dynasties to Highland sheiling girls, peasant poets, Enlightenment philosophers and iconoclastic artists, the book places the nation's people, ideas and passions at the heart of its architecture and archaeology. It is a remarkable story about how the Scottish nation has shaped its buildings and how its buildings, in turn, have shaped the nation.

Walking With Cattle

by Terry J. Williams

Droving was once the lifeblood of Scotland's rural economy, and for centuries Scotland's glens and mountain passes were alive with thousands of cattle making their way to the market trysts of Crieff and Falkirk. With the Industrial Revolution, ships, railways and eventually lorries took over the drovers' trade and by the early 20th century, the age-old droving tradition was all but dead. Except, however, in the Western Isles, where droving on foot continued until the mid-1960s when a new generation of ferries capable of bringing livestock lorries to the islands was introduced.

In this book, Scottish Life contributor Terry J. Williams follows the route of the drovers and their cattle from the Outer Hebrides to the Highland marts. Traveling by campervan and armed with a voice recorder, a collection of archive photographs and a set of maps marked with the old market stances, she seeks out the last surviving drovers. The resulting narrative is an extraordinary insight into a lost world, told through the voices of the few remaining individuals who remember the days of walking with cattle.

Arthur and Sherlock, Conan Doyle and the Creation of Holmes

by Michael Sims

From Arthur Conan Doyle's early years surrounded by poverty and violence, through to his first days as a surgeon, Michael Sims traces the circuitous, yet inevitable, development of Arthur Conan Doyle as the father of Sherlock Holmes and the modern mystery. As a young medical student, Arthur Conan Doyle studied in Edinburgh under the diagnostic genius Dr. Joseph Bell, who could identify a patient's occupation, hometown and ailments from the smallest details of dress, gait and speech. At the same time, Conan Doyle's studies offered him a terrifying firsthand knowledge of poisons, which would find a place in his fiction. Five hardworking years later -- after Conan Doyle's only modest success in both medicine and literature -- Sherlock Holmes emerged in A Study in Scarlet. Sims deftly shows Holmes to be a product of Conan Doyle's varied adventures in his personal and professional life, as well as built out of the traditions of Edgar Allan Poe, Émile Gaboriau, Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens -- not just a skillful translator of clues, but a genius of deduction in the tradition of Conan Doyle's esteemed teacher. Filled with details that will surprise even the most knowledgeable Sherlockian, Arthur and Sherlock is a literary genesis story for detective fans everywhere.

The Island and the Bear

by Louise Greig; illustrations by Vanya Nastanlieva

"Anything can happen anywhere. Anywhere was an island. Anything was a bear."

One windy morning on a wild and quiet Hebridean island, a bear appeared where there should not have been a bear. The gentle giant played happily in streams, danced in the wind and would not harm a living thing. But even friendly bears don't belong on Scottish islands. Will he ever find his way home?

This touching children's tale, recounted in Louise Greig's gentle verse and brought to life by Vanya Nastanlieva's enchanting illustrations, is inspired by a true story that has since become legend in the Scottish Hebrides.

Highland Retreats: The Architecture and Interiors of Scotland's Romantic North

by Mary Miers

Featuring breathtaking photographs of some of Scotland's most remarkable and little-known houses, this book tells the story of how incomers turned the Highlands into their recreational paradise and left an astonishing legacy of architecture and decoration behind. Known as shooting lodges because they were designed principally to accommodate the parties of guests that flocked north for the annual sporting season, these houses range from rustic cottages ornées and Scotch Baronial castles to Arts and Crafts mansions and modern eco-lodges. While their designs respond to some of Britain's wildest and most stirring landscapes, inside many were equipped with the latest domestic technology and boasted opulent decoration and furnishings from the smartest London and Parisian firms. A good number survive little altered in their original state, and some are still owned by descendants of the families that built them. Generously illustrated with rich, color photographs of the houses and their landscapes, the book is as appealing to decorators and architectural historians as it is to travelers and sportsmen.

subscribe Full reviews of these books are available in the Winter 2017 issue of Scottish Life.

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