Many thanks to Neil Reid for his review of my book in the February edition of Scottish Mountaineer
It is great to hear from people who are getting something out of the book and recommending it to others. Here is the text:
This is a fascinating book concentrating mainly on Strathspey and the northern Cairngorm area, examining conflicts between conservation and development. However, rather than retreading well-rehearsed arguments, the author takes an anthropological view of the whole area, considering local people, workers, landowners and visitors, revealing a picture more complex than most media reports. Having lived in the area for a number of years, VandeSteeg made it her business to get to know a wide range of people from landowners to waitresses and from visitors to those who could trace their families back through generations in the same area, as well as those who chose to make the area their home. She also examines the activities people take part in, including mountaineering, gamekeeping, stalking, farming, conservation work, tourism and land management, going into what first appears to be overly fussy academic detail but which ends up creating a greater understanding of the different people, their passions and motives. There is probably no one who will read this without feeling that ‘their’ views have not been properly represented in some respect, or that the ‘other side’ has been let off the hook- that’s almost inevitable- but in its entirety the book makes a positive contribution to future debates through enabling a better understanding of different protagonists’ views, fears and hopes- and through enabling how in the past some parties have managed to win the PR battle despite having less support than first appears while other parties have lost the battle despite having good arguments. Land for What? Land for Whom? is not a blueprint for the future of the Cairngorms or any other area, but it offers increased understanding of often complex issues and should be a valuable tool because of that.