Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review – Clanlands

Sometimes you come across a book accidentally. That is how I stumbled upon Clanlands. If you’re familiar with the show Men In Kilts, then you know where the book comes from. Like one of the blurbs said, this book is a love letter to Scotland. I couldn’t agree more, but to understand why I love this book, let me start at the beginning.

I began planning my Ireland and Scotland trip in March. That’s when I started noticing the advertisements for Men In Kilts on my Facebook feed. I had no idea who Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish were. I had heard of the show Outlander, but I had never watched an episode. All I knew is that these “men in kilts” were in Scotland and I needed to binge watch.

After devouring the show (seriously, if you’re planning a trip to Scotland you need to watch it) I found out that the show was actually based on a book. Luckily, I live super close to a book store and they had one copy of the book. Clanlands was now in my hands! I started reading it immediately. It did help that I had watched Men In Kilts already. I had a mental image of the people and places mentioned in the book.

The Book

Clanlands was able to go so much deeper than the TV show. While I expected to learn more about Sam and Graham as individuals, I also received a crash course in Scottish history. They did an excellent job of balancing personal stories with historical Scotland stories. I learned about the Jacobites and the Bonnie Prince. I learned about different Clans and their tartans. I met all kinds of interesting characters along the way, both from the past and present. This book is what I wish all history books would be. To say that Clanlands took me on an adventurous journey would be an understatement.

The Surprises

Just by reading the book’s jacket, I knew that I would get to know Sam and Graham on a more personal level. What surprised me the most, was going on the journey with them of discovering each of their deeper personal connection with Scotland. While I expected my connection to Scotland to grow by reading this book, I very much enjoyed witnessing each of their experiences. For me, there is nothing better than watching someone fall in love with history. Especially when they have a personal connection to it.

Oh, and if you’re able to listen to the audiobook, do it! I have never listened to an audiobook before, but I thought it might be interesting to listen to this one. Boy, was I right! Yes, reading the words of Sam and Graham was entertaining, but you get something from hearing them say the words that just makes it hit deeper.

The Verdict

I would absolutely, in a heartbeat, recommend Clanlands to anyone and everyone. If you have a trip planned to Scotland or you have Scottish ancestors, go read it now! As a genealogist, I loved when both Sam and Graham made connections to their own personal family histories. My favorite quote from the book was from Sam…

It’s lead me to discover my own extensive family tree, having always believed I’d come from a small family.

I am an advocate for anything that encourages us to look back to those who came before us and how our ancestors influence who we are today. Like Sam, I used to say that I come from a small family. Thanks to history and genealogy, I know that’s not true. Go read Clanlands, then let another family member (maybe someone in a younger generation) borrow it. I can almost guarantee it will start you on a path of discovering your history.