Picture of a Scottish lighthouse by mike138 used under a Creative Commons license.

Bella Bathurst, The Lighthouse Stevensons (HarperCollins, 1999).
Centuries ago, the Scottish coast was dangerous for shipping, in part because of the hazards of sailing, but also because lanes and hazards were not marked. A solution to the latter was the calling of members of four generations of the family that also produced Robert Louis Stevenson. The lighthouse Stevensons built manned lighthouses around — and in many cases, off — Scotland’s coast. On top of the obvious engineering challenges, the Stevensons had to overcome various human obstructions, such as the opposition of “wreckers” who made a living from cargo off doomed ships. It all makes for a compelling story that will lead you to look at rocky shores with new respect. As with the Scottish coast, a healthy dose of Scotland lies just behind it. The book won the 2002 Sally Hacker Prize for science writing.

Bathurst’s website excerpts the book’s introduction. Aly Burt says it’s one of the 100 best Scottish books of all time. Here are reviews from Richard Cook (The Guardian), Ian Dunlop (The Spectator), Raye Snover (The New York Times), Chriss Cornish, and Infra Consulting LC. Sharma Krauskopf rates the book four thistles. Becca found a good place to read it. Here is the web site of the Northern Lighthouse Board.

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