Title: The Rule of the Land
Author: Garrett Carr
Genre: Non-Fiction; Travel/Nature
Rating: 3.5 stars
Publication Date: 19th January 2017, published by Faber & Faber
Disclaimer: I was sent an ebook copy by the Publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis — what’s it about?
Author Garrett Carr traveled the broder between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland on foot and by canoe, mapping the landscape as well. In light of the Brexit referendum that took place on the 23rd of June of 2016 the author tries to answer what the implications of a split between the European Union and the United Kingdom, of which Northern Ireland is a part of, would be to the people living near the border and their everyday lives. In order to contextualize this, he tells the story of both countries, with a focus on the borderland, from their formation, to the history between the Catholic/Protestant divide and to the 1990s and The Troubles.
Because the author also mapped the landscape surrounding the border — namely the places he references and tells the story of — those maps are included in the book, as well as some photos of said places, to give the reader a mental image of the background of the topic being discussed.
Opinion — what did I think of it?
At first I thought that I would have trouble understanding the topic at hand, aftertall not being either Irish or British means that the history of both countries was touched very lightly in History class. I could not have been more wrong. The author has done a great job on explaining each country’s history, both the old and the modern. I understood everything Carr mentioned in his book and only had to do one quick Google search to pick up on something I’d never heard about before. It was highly informative and now I feel like I know much more of the region’s history.
As a member of the EU with dreams of one day living in the UK I was gutted to see the outcome of the vote, as well as mad at the populist propaganda going around both online and in real life. However, I never thought of the implications the divide would have on a fragile, and thin, border that has seen many acts of violence until not too long ago. Now, after having read this book, I am much more aware of the impact this could have in the region.
I loved how the author gave the people living in the areas he travelled through a voice and an opportunity to express their opinions regarding Brexit, particualarly because Northern Ireland, as a majority, voted Remain (read: stay in the EU) while the UK, as a majority, voted Leave (read: leave the EU).
The photos the author included in the book were a very good call. At times I had trouble picturing the exact look of a particular place that was being described
and too lazy to look it up so seeing those pictures was a great asset and added depth to the narrative.
Lastly, I’m giving it a strong 3.5 stars because at times I was not interested in the history. You can’t imagine how guilty I’m feeling for writing this, but it’s my honest opinion. Sometimes the writer went into too great detail about a particular event that didn’t feel very relevant to the whole narrative.
Final verdict — do I recommend it?
If you are interested in Irish and British history, culture and politics, definitely pick this one up. Like I’ve said, it brings up very interesting questions and contextualizes them both historically and culturally.
If you are curious to dip your toes in the topic but are affraid you won’t understand it because you aren’t well familiarized with this area’s history, don’t be. Chances are you will learn about it and won’t have much trouble understanding it, as the author explains this very well.