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The Steel Bonnets: The Story of the…

The Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers (1971)

by George MacDonald Fraser

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398539,001 (3.92)11
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    A Famine of Horses by P.F. Chisholm (Scorbet)
    Scorbet: A Famine of Horses is the first in a series about Sir Robert Carey, who features in the Steel Bonnets.

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I am an ardent student of history and particularly enjoy English and Scottish history from the period 1300-1750. The author of this work is one of my favorites, having read most of his Flashman novels of historical fiction. That being the case, you would think that this work would be right in my wheelhouse. You would be wrong.

Expecting interesting stories and histories of events along the English/Scottish border, I was instead confronted with a dry, turgid scholarly treatise. Endless citing of English and Scottish village names, multiple variations of spellings and name forms, many times for the same person, illegible maps and a complete lack of any semblance of organization leaves me mystified how on earth this book has garnered so many positive ratings. Does the author have so many relatives?

Most annoying is the author’s frequently employed tendency of directly quoting many of the actors in the history. You would think this would bring an authenticity and clarity to the dialogue, but quite the opposite. For you see, the denizens of the border didn’t exactly speak the King’s English as you and I know it. For a good example, read some Robert Burns and explain to me what it says. Page after page of quotations whose meaning can only be vaguely discerned by puzzling over context and possible meanings of words spelled only slightly similar to those with which you are familiar. Loads of enjoyment and enlightenment ensue.

This is, quite frankly, one of the worst books I have ever read. ( )
  santhony | Mar 9, 2012 |
If you want to understand the complexities of living on - or near - to the English/Scottish Border, then start with its history, and this book will help you understand its bloody history. A classic work on the Reiving families of the Scottish and English Marches. ( )
1 vote TheLRCatCCC | May 26, 2011 |
George Macdonald Fraser, author of the popular Flashman series, has turned his novelist's skills to good use in this excellent account of the sixteenth-century Border wars. A Borderer himself, he manages to produce a very balanced and readable description of a particularly troubled part of sixteenth-century history. Though the events described are quite as sanguinary as those described in "The Twilight Lords," Fraser retains enough detachment that the reader does not feel as if his nose has been rubbed in it. ( )
2 vote staffordcastle | Jul 13, 2009 |
Fairly good on the last years of the border in the 16th century. I was disappointed that he did not do more with
the two centuries or so of raiding before that, from the eary 14th century onward. ( )
1 vote antiquary | Sep 4, 2007 |
Worth reading just for the appendix that contains the Archbishop of Glasgow's Monition of Cursing against the Border Reivers, the most thorough curse I've ever read. ( )
3 vote scriveling | Jan 8, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0002727463, Paperback)

"If Jesus Christ were amongst them, they would deceive him," it was said of the plunders, raiders, and outlaws who terrorized the Anglo-Scottish Border for over 300 years. Theirs is an almost forgotten chapter of British history, preserved largely in folktales and ballads. It is the story of the notorious raiding families--Armstrongs, Elliots, Grahams, Johnstones, Maxwells, Scotts, Kerrs, Nixons, and others--of the outlaw bands and broken men, and the fierce battles of English and Scottish armies across the Marches. The Steel Bonnets tells their true story in its historical context-- how the reivers ran their raids and operated their system of blackmail and terrorism, and how the March Wardens, enforcing the unique Border law, fought the great lawless community. A superb work of scholarship and a spellbinding narrative. George MacDonald Fraser is the celebrated author of the Flashman novels, The Candlemass Road, The Pyrates, and the Private McAuslan stories.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:34 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"Rogues, criminals, family honor. From the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries, outlaws reigned supreme on the contentious frontier between England and Scotland. Feud and terror, raid and reprisal were the ordinary stuff of life--and a way of survival. Power was held by the notorious border reivers (the steel bonnets, named for their flashy helmets), who robbed and murdered in the name of family: the famous clans (or grains )--like Elliot, Armstrong, Charlton, and Robson--romanticized by Sir Walter Scott. In The Steel Bonnets, George MacDonald Fraser, author of the bestselling Flashman novels and himself a borderer, tells the fascinating and bloody story of the reivers, their rise to power as ferocious soldiers on horseback, and their surprisingly sudden fall from grace." -- Provided by publisher.… (more)

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Skyhorse Publishing

2 editions of this book were published by Skyhorse Publishing.

Editions: 160239265X, 1632204568

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