Subtitled A Comprehensive Guide to Every Scottish Island, this truly magnificent book is an updated and revised edition of the 1996 classic. Now in colour and 25% larger, this is the definitive reference to the Scottish islands, and one of the best Scottish books on any subject you'll ever see.
Scotland's islands have a magic all of their own, and it takes a very special book to capture that magic and successfully display it to readers: this is that book. Whether you know Scotland's islands well or not at all, they are brought to life here in a way that makes you want to visit: and in a way that gives you some flavour of what it is like to visit.
The book is organised geographically, with chapters devoted to island groups starting in the Clyde Estuary and working clockwise around Scotland before concluding with east coast islands. Every island covering more than 40 hectares or 100 acres has its own section, and each island section gives comprehensive information about the island covered. The 5½ pages about Jura, for example, list relevant maps and charts, and gives information about area, ownership, population, geology, history and wildlife, before taking you on a beautifully descriptive tour of the island. The Jura section concludes with information about access to the island and anchorages for those, like Haswell-Smith himself, who tour using their own boat. Also included within the coverage of Jura is an excellent colour map of the island, one of Haswell-Smith's beautiful watercolours in colour, and a black and white line drawing of the village of Craighouse.
Not everyone will necessarily agree with Haswell-Smith's decision not to regard as islands those which have been linked by causeway or bridge to the mainland or a larger island. But nothing is overlooked as a result: it's simply that coverage of Skye, for example, is oddly consigned to an annex in the chapter covering "Islands Surrounding Skye"; while coverage of the ten interlinked islands of the southern Outer Hebrides between Berneray and Eriskay is much more complex and perhaps less detailed than it would have been if they had been treated as separate islands. But in the context of what really is one of the best books ever written about any aspect of Scotland, this is a pretty minor criticism.