In 1773, James Boswell and Samuel Johnson set off on one of the most celebrated trips of all time: a journey around Scotland that they later published in a pair of journals. More than two centuries later, Starr set out to retrace that earlier trip, following the itinerary in reverse and tracking Boswell and Johnson's route as closely as possible. Coupling his own observations on Scottish people and places with passages from Boswell's and Johnson's accounts, the author presents readers with pictures both of Scotland as it is and as it was. Combining biography, history, and humor, this book will interest both globetrotters and armchair travelers. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Whisky, Kilts, and the Loch Ness Monster is a memoir of a twenty-first-century literary pilgrimage to retrace the famous eighteenth-century Scottish journey of James Boswell and Samuel Johnson,-two of the most celebrated writers of their day. An accomplished journalist and aficionado of fine literature, William W. Starr enlivens this crisply written travelogue with a playful wit, an enthusiasm for all things Scottish, the boon and burden of American sensibility, and an ardent appreciation for Boswell and Johnsonùwho make frequent cameos throughout these ramblings.
In 1773 the sixty-three-year-old Johnson was England's preeminent man of letters, and Boswell, some thirty years Johnson's junior, was on the cusp of achieving his own literary celebrity. For more than one hundred days, the distinguished duo toured what was then largely unknown Scottish terrain, later publishing their impressions of the trip in a pair of classic journals. In 2007 Starr embarked on a three-thousand-mile trek through the Scottish Lowlands and Highlands, following the pathùthough in reverseùof Boswell and Johnson. Starr tracked their route as closely as the threat of storms, distractions of pubs, and limitations of time would allow. Like his literary forebears, he recorded a wealth of keen observations on his encounters with people and places, lochs and lore, castles and clans, fables and foibles. Starr couples his contemporary 'commentary with passages from Boswell's and Johnson's published accounts, letters, and diaries to weave together a cohesive travel guide to the Scotland of yore and today, comparing reflections from two Centuries ago to his own modern-day perspectives. The tour begins and ends in Edinburgh and includes visits to Glasgow, Inverness, Loch Ness, Culloden, Auchinleck, the Isles of Iona and Skye, and many more destinations, to addition Starr expands his course to include two of the farthest reaches of Scotland where eighteenth-century travelers dared not tread: the Outer Hebrides and the Orkney Islands, remarkable regions shaped by distinctive weather, history, and isolation.
Blending biography, intellectual and cultural history, and comic asides into his travelogue, Starr crafts an inviting vantage point from which to view aspects of Scotland's storied past and complex present through an illuminating literary lens. The well-read globetrotter and the armchair adventurer will each benefit from this compendium of fascinating revelations about Scotland's colorful, volatile heritage; its embrace of myth and legends, its flirtations with both tradition and commercialization; and its legacy as more than a source of single malts, bagpipes, and kilted genealogies. This is a celebration of Scottish life and a spirited endorsement of the wondrous, often unexpected discoveries to be made through good travel and good writing.