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Black Isle historian set for Wester Ross talk on Slaves and Highlanders book

By Hector MacKenzie

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David Alston outside Cromarty Courthouse. Picture: James Mackenzie
David Alston outside Cromarty Courthouse. Picture: James Mackenzie

WRITER and historian David Alston will be a guest of Ullapool Book Festival, in association with Ullapool Harbour Trust, on Saturday, December 11 at 2pm upstairs in the ferry terminal.

He will talk about his recently published book Slaves and Highlanders which explores the prominent role of Highland Scots in the exploitation of enslaved Africans and their descendants in the coffee, sugar and cotton plantations of the 18th and 1 th centuries.

Scots were involved in every stage of the slave trade: from captaining slaving ships to auctioning captured Africans in the colonies and hunting down those who escaped from bondage.

This book focuses on the Scottish Highlanders who engaged in or benefitted from these crimes against humanity in the Caribbean Islands and Guyana, some reluctantly but many with enthusiasm and without remorse. Their voices are clearly heard in the archives, while in the same sources their victims’ stories are silenced – reduced to numbers and listed as property.

When David Alston spoke at Ullapool Book Festival in 2017 on this subject he shocked the audience – there were audible gasps. Now the book has been written and is published by Edinburgh University Press. It is essential reading for all Highlanders - and indeed all Scots.

Free tickets for David Alston’s presentation on Slaves and Highlanders are available in person from 12 November from The Ceilidh Place Bookshop and Ullapool Bookshop. Or they can be obtained free online at www.ticketsource.co.uk/ullapool-book-festival.

There will be no admission without a ticket and there can be no late entry. Masks must be worn throughout. Light refreshments will be served at the end when Alston will sign audience members’ copies of his book.

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