The Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers
By George MacDonald Fraser
Why this book?
By the author of the wonderfully wicked Flashman novels, this is simply the best book I know on the Reivers (Rustlers) of the Scottish-English Borderlands C14-16th. I referred to it often when constructing Rose Nicolson and Fair Helen. As with Flashman, it depicts resourceful, desperate men and women, trying to survive and prosper amid the shambles of History – in this case, the ungovernable Borderlands. Finely researched, vivid and balanced, Fraser brings to life the extraordinary people of Borders myth and history. Imagine a Wild West that lasted some 300 years of horse and cattle rustling, kidnap and ransom, protection rackets (the words gang and blackmail - black meal or black rent - come from the reivers exploits), with some great narrative poetry and jokes grim or hilarious. A Borderer himself, Fraser gets the romance and the less romantic necessities that governed these intensely-lived, skillful, precarious lives.
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