'You are hereby ordered to fall upon the rebels, the MacDonalds of Glencoe, and to put all to the sword under seventy.' This was the treacherous and cold-blooded order ruthlessly carried out on 13 February 1692, when the Campbells slaughtered their hosts the MacDonalds at the Massacre of Glencoe. It was a bloody incident which had deep repercussions and was the beginning of the destruction of the Highlanders. John Prebble’s masterly description of the terrible events at Glencoe was praised as ‘Evocative and powerful’ in the Sunday Telegraph.
This detailed account of the tragedy of Glencoe is in reality Vol. I of a trilogy of Scottish tragedies by the same author; the other volumes, not yet published in America, are Gulloden and The Clearances. The Campbells of Argyll and the MacDonalds of Glencoe (Glencoe is a gash in the Western Highlands) had for years feuded with each other, raiding, stealing, murdering, but the attack of the Campbells on the Glencoe MacDonalds was no ordinary raid. It was a political killing, nourished on hatreds and ambitions and engineered by Sir John Dalrymple, Secretary of State for Scotland, a Lowlander who had never seen the Highlands. Using as an excuse for the attack a delay by the MacDonald chief in swearing allegiance to King William III, in January, 1962, Dalrymple sent an Argyll regiment of Campbells to Glencoe with secret orders to slaughter the entire clan under cover of friendship, an unforgivable violation of the inviolable code of Highland hospitality. At dawn on Feb. 13 the Campbells fell on their hosts, butchering at least 38 of them; the rest of the clan escaped in a blinding snowstorm. "Glencoe," writes the author of this exciting book, "is the only recorded attempt at genocide in the history of the English peoples." The statement is open to question: genocide is a large term and the Glencoe MacDonalds were a small clan, not a nation or race. The book will appeal to Scotsmen and lovers of Scotland, but Sassenach readers may find many of its references confusing. A somewhat different version of the part played by William III in the affair will be found in Vol. II of Nesca Robb's excellent biography, William of Orange. (p. 657).?? (Kirkus Reviews)