Love him or loathe him, author and journalist John Macleod writes very good books!
Born in Lochaber in 1966, sfter graduating from Edinburgh University, he began his career at BBC Highland in Inverness and quickly established himself as a freelance writer. He won Scottish Journalist of the Year in 1991 and contributed regularly to The Scotsman and The Herald. He is presently a columnist with the Scottish Daily Mail.
He’s also the author of Birlinn Books first publication of 2011. Following on from the excellent book on the Iolaire disaster When I Heard The Bell, he now tackles life under the rule of infamous Lewis factor Donald Munro.
In 1844 Sir James Matheson bought the Isle of Lewis, awash with hope and good intentions, only, in 1853, to put a rat-faced factor from Tain in sole charge of the estate. Within months Donald Munro, the self-styled ‘Chamberlain of the Lews’, had seized practically every office of civic, legal and industrial power in the community and for the next two decades held the entire island under an absolute reign of terror.
This is a study of Highland landlordism at once at its most benign – Sir James refused to enact Clearances in Lewis and vested thousands of his own fortune in assorted well-intended schemes, for little return; its most self-indulgent – as the baronet built a mock-Tudor castle, imported soil and trees and constructed his own Arcadian fantasy; and at its most blind – as he gaily left his tenants under the jackboot of a factor so monstrous he is still remembered with blazing hatred on Lewis, recalled in such nicknames as ‘the Shah’, ‘the Beast’ and ‘Red Donald of the Hens’.
In None Dare Oppose, John Macleod paints a stunning portrait of island society in Victorian Scotland held under a capricious and feudal oppression – until one quiet, decent corner of that island fearlessly rose against the subjugation, marching on Stornoway to a gripping court-room finale. It is an astonishing and powerful tale, beautifully accomplished and compellingly told.