Tragedy of the Blood
by Beth Bristow
PageTurner, Press and Media


"The Clearances were shameful, hidden, not written about and not spoken of."

Bristow writes a chilling account of the ethnic cleansing of the Highlanders after an attempted revolt on April 16, 1746, led by Charles Stuart, "Bonnie Prince Charlie." Tragically, the Highlanders were without adequate food or weapons and outnumbered by the soldiers led by the Duke of Cumberland, a son of King George II. The English Crown retained the land that once had been ruled over by Scottish chieftains. Bristow deftly uses historical characters to describe their struggles during "the Clearances," when the Highlanders were forced out of Scotland.

Among the major clans and victims were the Camerons and the Dunsmuirs, some of whom were killed in battle—others by live cremation, locked in houses that the English soldiers set ablaze. The leaders who lived through that awful day were sentenced to the standard punishment for treason: partially hanged, then disemboweled, and burned to death. Ultimately, the survivors, who were forced to leave Scotland, emigrated to Australia, Nova Scotia, America, and New Zealand.

The author’s recounting of this travesty is vivid and realistic, which highlights its similarity to the many hundreds of genocides that have been ordered before and since. Her haunting chronicle of ethnic cleansing brings to mind contemporary examples of groups attempting to obstruct a stronger group's power and political agenda. Her story is a painful reminder that any nation can be vulnerable to such purges. Bristow brings history back to life by her use of narration and dialogue that details the events in emotional, agonizing detail. Her book is well worth reading.

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