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The Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers
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The Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  276 ratings  ·  32 reviews
From the 13th century to the middle of the 16th, outlaws and " border lords" reigned supreme on the contentious frontier between England and Scotland. Feud and terror, raid and reprisal, were the ordinary stuff of life, and power was held by the notorious border reivers: raiders and freebooters, plunderers and rustlers who robbed, murdered, and wreaked havoc. George MacDon...more
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Published October 1st 2007 by Skyhorse Publishing (first published January 28th 1972)
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Dave/Maggie Bean
Had it not been for fantasy artist Frank Frazetta, I’d never have discovered Fraser. During the dreary winter of 1981, I found myself imprisoned in the Bachelor Officers’ Quarters in Patrick Henry Village (Oftersheim, Federal Republic of Germany), with no friends and f**k-all to do. Fortunately, there was a Stars and Stripes bookstore ten minutes’ walk from the glorified tenement we called "home."

I suppose my parents felt sorry for me (and reckoned that if I had spending money, I’d go somewhere...more
Stevie
I have always had an interest in the Border Reivers as my family, the Trotters, were a reiving clan in the Eastern March. The Steel Bonnets by George MacDonald Fraser is now in my top five history books of all time. A fascinating read which really dissects the subject at hand. Fraser was a Scottish Borderer who lived in Carlisle and it really comes across he has a real sense of the people, place and culture on both sides of the Border. I am from Dumfries and was totally engrossed in the Maxwell-...more
Will
It's rare that I find an historical book that combines great scholarship with genuine, entertaining readability. This classic from the author of the "Flashman" series is that rare bird, great history and great fun in one package. While he presents an unapologetic and sometimes harsh portrait of the free-wheeling, law unto themselves "riding families" of the Anglo-Scottish border, Fraser manages to be honest without getting shrilly judgmental. While hardly "loveable rogues", one can't help but ge...more
David
Jan 19, 2011 David rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to David by: "A Common Reader" catalog 2002
Shelves: read-history
To: kindle-feedback@amazon.com

Subject: digitization of The Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers by George MacDonald Fraser

I'd like to suggest some improvements to the Kindle edition of this excellent but obscure book, which I was pleasantly surprised to see available in this format.

I believe that this is this book was digitized from a paper version. Converting a book in this manner is probably a time-consuming labor of love, and those converting can be excused if they m...more
Tim
The borderlands were chaotic and Fraser's attempts to organize his information are only partially successful. In the first part of the book he attempts to give his readers an overview of what the lives and times of the borderers were like. He taps many anecdotes to make his points, but the reader has a difficult time following the chronology. Later in the book, when Fraser attempts to tell a more chronological story, he refers frequently to his earlier tales. This is unfortunate. It takes a devo...more
Duffy
I am mainly familiar with Fraser's Flashman series, so I wasn't really sure what to expect out of this.
If you're like me, and you enjoy the footnotes in the Flash Papers as much as I do, you will probably also enjoy this book.
Spanning basically a century of history in the very specific area of the England/Scotland border, it covers a unique time in which robbing, blackmail and murder became a way of life for many of the families living in the area, and in which the authorities on both sides of...more
Karen Floyd
Well-written and well researched as well as entertaining. In spite of my background in British history this was not a time or place I knew much about. For at least 200 years there was constant raiding back and forth across the English-Scottish border, involving widescale burning of towns, homes and fields, theft of livestock,grain and goods, murder, hostage-taking and blackmail,and blood feuds that went on for decades. It was rarely nationalistic, as families on both sides of the border allied w...more
Mike
Did you know that the border between England and Scotland in the 16th century was so lawless that at least one Elizabethan official seriously proposed rebuilding Hadrian's Wall?

Frasier is a very engaging writer, and does a great job with this history. Much of the wit and humor of the Flashman series is evident here, as well as his good-natured despair about human nature and the prevalence of injustice. (The border reivers are exposed as base predators, and their treatment by the authorities was...more
Sherwood Smith
Reread: On this read, it struck me how many times Fraser sees fit to remind the reader that the Borderers were not romantic at all--that in fact they caused more mayhem than the mafia or like groups. I wonder if the impetus behind this book was the proliferation of romantic border stories inspired by Dorothy Dunnett.

Whatever the impetus, it's a fascinating study of a small group of people whose descendants have had a proportionally enormous impact on the English-speaking world. Not English, not...more
Robert Musgrove
TSB is a history of the borderlands between England and Scotland, told by George McDonald Fraser, who authored the Flashman series of some eyars ago. It is a fascinating read to be, as that is the original home land of the Musgroves and because it is a fascinating story of a people's response to almost unrelenting hardship and warfare. The borderlande was contiually overrun by either the English or the Scottish armies for serveral hundred years. What evolved was a culture of feud, violence aned...more
Allen
Absolute must read for any fan of history. Brilliant book. Can't recommend it enough.
Peter
Another great read
Bill
I devoured Fraser's Flashman series a few years ago, and found them to be amongst the great reading adventures I've ever had. Since then, I decided to conquer the rest of his canon. The Steel Bonnets is a history of the border troubles between England and Scotland in the late 1500's. At times too in depth for the casual reader, it was still worth the trouble, if only to understand better understand not only the history between these peoples.
Gena
This is a very well written book about a particular part of Scottish history. If you have Scottish border-clan ancestry, or are particularly interested in that region, I would highly reccommend this book. Fraser does a great job of making the factual stuff interesting and telling the story of the people involved. Having said that, it is a book of non-fiction and I would not recommend it to people who are looking for a light read.
John
Fraser was a novelist (Flashman series), a Hollywood screenwriter (Three and Four Musketeers and others), and a respected semi-pro historian. This book is an eccentric and readable report of extensive research he did on the semi-outlaw culture along the English-Scottish border in the 13th-15th centuries. The "Marches."I'd say it would help to have a serious interest in this subject... Great Britain's wild west.
Drew Binnie
I enjoyed the Flashman series immensely, but at times I found this book dry and quite difficult. It was an eye opener discovering how violent and treacherous my ancestors had once been. I will now be more tolerant of some of the behaviour I see in the streets of Edinburgh! The tactics of hot troding and the of setting fire to your own property made for interesting talk when I went to the pub.
Ronald
Anyone who believes that the Scots are basically Englishmen in kilts should read this book, thereby growing in wisdom. George MacDonald Fraser is the author of the sort-of historical Flashman novels. The wit and humor of Flashy is evident in this story of the almost perpetual conflict along the border between these two proud and touchy nations fated to occupy the same small island.
Tammy Andrew
Very good read, but very much a historical accounting. I prefer history in the form of historical novels and do not recommend this as an escape or evening reading book, but would work very well as part of a college course since I felt I should be taking notes and creating charts as I progressed
Sally
A very good history of the Scottish border region and the Border Reivers who lived there. It's well narrated and very thorough in detailing the reality of the feudal, violent, bloody, retributional culture with no hint of romance to confuse the issues at stake to the people involved.
Sally
A very good history of the Scottish border region and the Border Reivers who lived there. It's well narrated and very thorough in detailing the reality of the feudal, violent, bloody, retributional culture with no hint of romance to confuse the issues at stake to the people involved.
Tom
I owned this for awhile and then lost my copy. Luckily, while in England I found a copy and snached it up(even though the Pound was worth at least $2. A great readable history of this region of England and Scotland by a great wtiter!
Trish
Written by the author of the Flashman series, The Steel Bonnets is actual a straight history book - although he later wrote at least one fiction book in the same period and geographical area. Well written and very interesting.
Carol
A very good reference book for something studying the Border Reviers or trying to find out more about their family history. A but tedious. My book mark is still at page 1999. Not a book to curl up with! Well documented.
Jussarian
Wonderful book and quite humourous in parts too. No-where more so than in the introduction, where he compares the mien of three American politicians of the 60s with their Borderer forebears.
Charlie
Both fact and fiction written with style and grace. George MacDonald Fraser presents Border Scottish history like no other. Not a easy pick-up and read, more for the eager history seeker.
Linda Chrisman
A work of well-researched history that is not only fascinating but quite amusing as well. I haven't enjoyed a work of history so much in years. The footnotes are. Hilarious
Redsteve
A very complete history in its own way, but this book is REALLY dry. It's hard to believe that this is the same author that wrote the Flashman series and The Pyrates.
David Mcdowell
Brilliantly readable history of the English/Scottish border reivers by my good friend GM Fraser. Discover the bloody secrets lurking in your family tree.
Roger
That my family was the "Marshall in Dodge" in a very savage era (the Scottish/English Border) in a very savage time (15th & 16th centuries).
Raymond Brown
Lengthy and detailed telling of the borderland conflicts during the 1500s.
Learned about many of the families and clans that participated.
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He is best known for his Flashman series of historical novels, purportedly written by Harry Flashman, a fictional coward and bully originally created by Thomas Hughes in Tom Brown's School Days. The novels are presented as "packets" of memoirs written by the nonagenarian Flashman, who looks back on his days as a hero of the British Army during the 19th century. The series begins with Flashman, and...more
More about George MacDonald Fraser...
Flashman (The Flashman Papers, #1) Royal Flash (The Flashman Papers, #2) Flashman at the Charge (Flashman Papers, #4) Flash for Freedom! (The Flashman Papers, #3) Flashman in the Great Game (The Flashman Papers, #5)

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