‘Highlander – The History of the Highland Soldier’ by Tim Newark is a non-fiction book that spans the history of the Highlander Regiments from the late 17th Century to now. It explores the individuals’ stories rather than presenting a bone-dry list of dates and accounts of casualties.
Over centuries, the fierce fighting spirit of the Highland soldier transformed the legend of the ‘wild savage’ of the North to a well respected member of the British Isles. The Gaelic culture of the clans was based on warring, loyalty, and honor in the Highlands and the Western Isles for a thousand years. In the early modern times, many Highlanders joined the first regiments patrolling the Highlands at first on private basis and later as standing armies. The journey of the Highland Regiments takes off when in mid-eighteenth century the Jacobites rose for their last time and subsequently were crushed on the boggy grounds of Culloden field. Young Highlanders were left with little choices to earn their living, and the only way of having a military career was by joining regiments. From then on, the Highlander Regiments stood their ground for Great Britain in many foreign countries, in Canada, in the USA, in India and many countries more.
Tim Newark allows us a closer look what had happened on the battlefields by sharing the soldiers’ personal stories, derived from letters, diaries, and journals. It’s this human touch which makes the book despite of its blood-drenched battlegrounds readable and even enjoyable. The book debunks some myths and adds scantly known events to the time line. Admittedly, the reader should have an interest in military action and the history of the Highland regiments, but the wealth of personalized experiences makes the book recommendable and standing out from many other military history books. ‘Highlander – The History of the Highland Soldier’ is an excellent resource for all who want to learn more about the legendary soldier of the Highlands.