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When war came to the Hebrides

Anne Rutten explores a study of the sinking of the Tuscania and the Otranto and the effect of these tragedies on the community of Islay

The Drowned and the Saved: When War Came to the Hebrides Les Wilson, Birlinn, 2018, 225 pages Paperback, £9.99 ISBN: 9781780275437

In order to convey the horror of world war I, Les Wilson does not need to resort to graphic descriptions: he relies on the diaries of survivors and Islay natives to depict the dangers of crossing the sea during this time. On a Saturday, the local carpenter dressed wood for a cart, the next Thursday, he would work through the night to make coffins for drowned American soldiers. This book makes apt use of international newspapers, Gaelic songs, letters and court cases, drawing a striking contrast between the people of Islay and the events in the wider world. The focus lies on the sinking of the Tuscania and the Otranto, but they are examples of how World War I came crashing into local Islay life.

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About History Scotland

Explore centuries of history and archaeology in the first History Scotland issue of 2019. Inside you’ll find history, archaeology, genealogy and heritage from some of the country’s top experts. Top reasons to read this issue: • Discover the tough reality of life as a Dundee whaler – and why the city’s female population was crucial to the success of the whaling industry • Read about Mary of Guelders – the Stewart queen who used her European connections to succeed in her royal role • See amazing images from the restoration of Monteath Mausoleum • Discover history events around the country during the winter months • Explore a new project to discover what we know – and have yet to discover – about the uses of gold in prehistoric Scotland