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With every fresh encounter from an Afghanistan veteran based on Hadrian's Wall to a shepherd who still counts his flock in sixth century words Stewart uncovers about the forgotten peoples and languages of a vanished country now crushed between England and Scotland Stewart and his father are drawn into unsettling reflections on landscape their parallel careers in the bygone British Empire and Ira and the past present and uncertain future of the Unit. This is a fascinating and complicated book I picked it up because I m currently fascinated by the borders I m not close enough to go and walk the ground myself always the best way to learn a place but I was hoping that reading the account of someone who had might give me a sense of the land It did but it also offered me far than that The book is split into three stages an attempt the author made to walk Hadrian s wall with his father who being then in his late eighties met him at key points along the way a later solo trek from his home to in Cumbria to the Solway Firth and then up the border and finally a trip from Berwick to his father s home on the edge of the Highlands which leads into an account of his father s final days Although his account of his walks explore the land he crosses and the people who live there that knowledge is then used as a launching board to explore the experiences of the Romans who built the wall the history of the borders his own experiences in Afghanistan and elsewhere his father s long career in the army and British intelligence all over the world and of course the relationship between himself and his father Stewart is a Tory MP and it shows occasionally in the occasional sideswipe at well meaning conservationists making life hard for farmers and his preoccupation with the Scottish Independence vote He eschews political soundbites though and one of the great strengths of the book is the way in which he interrogates his own assumptions about nationhood and identity He sets out with a determination to find evidence of a Borders identity which transcends the differences between English and Scottish What he finds instead is a lack of any coherent identity at all the individuals he meets and describes so vividly defy this sort of simple categorisation and you leave the book with a sense that he is profoundly troubled by this lack of connection to place or history By the end of the book he comes full circle back to the individual and personal to his own family and their loss and to the invention of new tradition rather than the upkeep of the old I ve seen reviews saying the book itself doesn t cohere well Perhaps not but I m tempted to think that s rather the point In that sense in the lack of a single forward momentum perhaps you could call it flawed Personally I liked it for that lack

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The Marches

An unforgettable tale National GeographicIn The Places in Between Rory Stewart walked some of the most dangerous borderlands in the world Now he travels with his eighty nine year old father a comical wily courageous and infuriating former British intelligence officer along the border they call home On Stewart's four hundred mile walk across a magnificent natural landscape he sleeps on mountain ridges and in housing projects in hostels and farmhouses. I think sometimes interweaving seemingly disparate threads can work well in non fiction unfortunately in this book I think it muddied the waters Rory Stewart once did a walk across Afghanistan which you can read about in his book The Places in Between which got a lot of acclaim Much to my chagrin he continuously references this journey and book throughout The Marches At times he seems to be trying to find connections between Afghanistan and the borderlands between historical Scotland and England but failing in my opinion He also seems to have written this book not long after the death of his father and underlying everything is a clear desire to somehow pay tribute to his father So also entwined in this narrative are reflections on his father s work in Asia Too many ingredients leading to very little clarityThe only reason I actually read the entire thing is that this land is my land as much as it is his land A healthy uarter of my ancestry comes from the MacGregor lineage a clan which lived in andor bordered the land he is discussing for centuries Until the great migratory period between 1831 and 1931 where many people moved away but not his family except for working extensively overseas This is when my Scottish ancestors came to the United States as well to a very similar landscape So I found myself combing the text for information on the history of the actual land which is what I was hoping for from the book s description From a few conversations he references with his Dad I think that what Rory Stewart was assuming he would find was not as extensive as to fill a book and as padding he has put everything else in I would have preferred a shorter book with focus Thanks to the publisher for giving me an early review copy through NetGalley

Rory Stewart Í 7 Characters

Ed Kingdom And as the end approaches the elder Stewart's stubborn charm transforms this chronicle of nations into a fierce exuberant encounter between a father and a son This is a profound reflection on family landscape and history by a powerful and original writerThe miracle of The Marches is not so much the treks Stewart describes pulling in all possible relevant history as the monument that emerges to his beloved father New York Times Book Review. 35 stars rounded up to 4I enjoyed reading The Marches Border Walks With My Father by Rory Stewart He s been in the news here recently having stood for leadership of the Conservative Party and has now formally stood down from Parliament to run as an independent candidate for Mayor of LondonBut none of that has anything to do with why I wanted to read his book It s because of the subject walking in the borderlands between England and Scotland in the place where I live And it s not just about walking he also muses on history memory and landscape all topics that interest me immenselyThis is a book of three parts Book One The Wall about Rory Stewart s walk along Hadrian s Wall in 2011 with his father then aged 89 his father walking for the first hour or so each day They had intended to walk the full length of the Wall from east to west but after they reached the fort at Bewcastle they decided to abandon their plan his father having reached his limits and drive back to his father s house Broich near Crieff in Perthshire He writes about the Wall the Roman occupation of the area his father s career about nationality and clans and reminisces about his childhood and his time in AfghanistanBook Two Middleland in which he describes his walk from coast to coast a distance of about 400 miles taking him 26 days walking alone from his cottage in Cumbria to the Solway Firth then crossing and re crossing the modern border established in the 13th century to Berwick upon Tweed and then back to BroichI got a bit lost in his descriptions of the route not knowing some the places along the way But there are maps of his route that helped me follow where he went He describes the landscape the geology sheep farming and land use the people he met their history and language and much much Book Three The General Danced on the Lawn about his father who died at the age of 93 before this book was finished The whole book is permeated with his love and respect for his father but this last section is all about Brian StewartAt the end of the Marches is a Chronology which I found very interesting defining The Middleland before AD100 up to the present days The Middleland is a term invented by Brian StewartThe geographical centre of the island of Britain An upland landscape whose core is the Lake District the Peninnes the Cheviots and the Scottish Borders but whose fringes extend to the Humber in the south and the firths of Forth and Clyde in the north A land naturally unified by geography and culture for two thousand years but repeatedly divided by political frontiers page 339


10 thoughts on “The Marches

  1. says:

    I've previously read both Stewart's The Places In Between and Prince of the Marshes I found both books to be illuminating and informational as well as engaging I felt that they really gave me an insight into the situations a

  2. says:

    I think sometimes interweaving seemingly disparate threads can work well in non fiction unfortunately in this book I think it muddied the waters Rory Stewart once did a walk across Afghanistan which you can read about in his book T

  3. says:

    Maybe this was too ambitious for me considering I don't read a lot of non fiction that isn't memoir or essays I thought this would be an interesting read about a man's life in conjunction with his findings on a long walk across the UK

  4. says:

    We tend to think of the UK as one complete country but there are separate countries here that have their own distinct identity and outlook This loosely defined border between us and the Scottish has existed since Roman times Their farthest outpost it suffered from marauding Picts and Celts who took every opportunity to give the Romans a bloody nose hence why they built Hadrian’s Wall It was this 200 year old monument that Stewart chose t

  5. says:

    This is a fascinating and complicated book I picked it up because I'm currently fascinated by the borders I'm not close enough to go and walk the ground myself always the best way to learn a place but I was hoping that reading the a

  6. says:

    I was a Goodreads winner of this book I liked this book but didn't love it The history of Scotland and England was great I e

  7. says:

    35 stars rounded up to 4I enjoyed reading The Marches Border Walks With My Father by Rory Stewart He’s been in the news here recently having stood for leadership of the Conservative Party and has now formally stood down from Parliament to run as an independent candidate for Mayor of LondonBut none of that has anything to do with why I wa

  8. says:

    FROM MY BLOG Hadrian's Wall constructed by the Romans from AD 122 to about 128 crosses northern England from Newcastle through Carlisle to Bowness on the Solway Firth In 2010 I followed the wall its entire length on foot In 2011 Rory Stewart walked the same route together with his 89 year old father the father driving far

  9. says:

    This was a very strange book I started off loving it and then it curdled on meThe trouble with a travel book is

  10. says:

    Rory Stewart walks the border between Scotland and England much of it along Hadrian's Wall This is a fairly long book that contains a lot of historical detail about the region The author's father figures in much of the book and is a

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