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  • The Marches

  • A Borderland Journey Between England and Scotland
  • By: Rory Stewart
  • Narrated by: Rory Stewart
  • Length: 12 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Europe
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Ten years after the walk across Central Asia and Afghanistan that he memorialized in his best-selling The Places in Between, Rory Stewart set out on a new journey, traversing a thousand miles between England and Scotland.

Stewart was raised along the border of the two countries, the frontier taking on poignant significance in his understanding of what it means to be both Scottish and English, of his relationship with his father, who's lived on this land his whole life, and of his ties to the rich history and culture of the region. Now representing this borderland as a Member of Parliament, Stewart's march begins as his father turns 90, Scotland is about to vote on independence, and Britain may disappear forever. At times alone and at times joined by his father, Stewart melds the story of his journey with an intimate portrait of the changing social and political landscape of the region.

Stewart has written for the New York Times Magazine, Granta, and the London Review of Books.

©2016 Rory Stewart (P)2016 Recorded Books

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  • mary
  • 16-03-2017

Excellent

l liked this book,very informative. So much history that I never knew. Great narration,I will listen again,andagin.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Nassir
  • 29-04-2017

Uneven and unexpected, still worth it.

You should read this book if you've read Stewart's previous books and enjoyed them, otherwise it's probably skippable. It's extraordinarily unexpected. It's almost like it was supposed to be one of those books that rising politicians always tend to write, where they encounter Real People from True Country, whose innate and good knowings trump the elitist swots from London (or Washington, or where have you) who think they know best. Fortunately, Stewart has way too much going on upstairs and has seen way too much in his life to write a book exactly like that (although the second part of three comes pretty close.)

As Stewart walks along Hadrian's Wall and from England to Scotland, he bring along the eye of a man who has both seen and experienced empire, and who has negotiated borders more stark than any in the British Isles. What he sees as a result is not what he expected or hoped to find, not in the landscape or the people. He's aided by the presence of his elderly father, a man who is the same time a lovable old eccentric and an old pillar of the British Empire, a man who in his 90s still speaks several dialects of Chinese, was once known as the "Butcher of Penang" (possibly a joke?), and served as the quartermaster of the intelligence services ("Q", in James Bond terms.) The two Stewarts, as warriors, spies and diplomats of real calibre, barely stand out as they negotiate a landscape apparently used to their type. Here there is a statue to the man who conquered India, here is a farmer whose ancestor once captured the king of Afghanistan, here is a man who sings songs in the language of a nation nobody now remembers...

What does it all mean, about Great Britain today? Stewart has no idea and frankly admits as much, several times despairing his father that he has no idea what kind of book he's going to write. This gives it all a frustrating, meandering nature. But it's stuck with me, in a vaguely unsettling way. The suggestion in the end is that where we are from is at the same time somewhere and nowhere, and that this is no new phenomenon of modernity. The stories we tell and the artifacts we venerate are made as much of projection as of actual history, and that our own lives await the same inevitable, inescapable interpretation, and not always before we ourselves are gone from the scene. So not a typical politician book.

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  • NANAS
  • 18-09-2020

Not what I expected

I thought it would be more of author's relationship with his father on a walk. It was more a history of the border, good but not what I bought the book for.

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  • Keith
  • 30-07-2020

Not what I expected

Rather than a narration of a trip along Hadrian's Wall with his father, this book is more of an exploration of Scottish identity and Rory Stewart's relationship with his father. That said, it makes it an even more interesting book.

Rory's father is a very interesting person with a history in the military during the second world war, continuing on to colonial work and the less spoken of secret service. From a very different era, it is enjoyable to hear of his anecdotes, advice, and conversations with his son.

The walk involves a number of trips on the borderland between Scotland and England initially understanding the Roman occupation and building of the wall, and later talking to people living in the area and their views on life and identity. What comes across is a greater understanding of how the people on both sides of the border are more alike than different and less traditional than they consider. In fact the whole idea of what is traditional is brought into question.

Bearing in mind that this was written around the time of the independence vote, it could be biased in order to have some influence on the vote. However, it highlights a theme with Rory Stewart in that he takes time to research the people in depth in order to gain a better understanding of a situation, rather than saying what he thinks. In this respect, I believe the book represents the people of the border land between the two countries, and an important read for anyone interested in the whole Scottish independence discussion.

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  • Sue Smith
  • 03-11-2019

A treasured companion

Ultimately, every bit as good as the author's The Places In Between. This book can be your treasured companion for weeks. I literally didn't want it to end. The author-narrator sings and also performs a series of voices, languages, and accents. This book leaves you with a list for life.

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  • John S.
  • 13-08-2017

Should've hired a professional!

I stuck with this one for about three hours, until I decided I could not listen to the author's voice for one more minute. So very upper class that it sounded like a bad parody - ugh! Material itself may have had some promise, though I wasn't interested in his, or his father's, philosophies on life. At Your Own Risk.

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  • DG Wilmont
  • 30-09-2017

A loving memoir for me.

A great listen, it was the retelling of the relationship with his father that I found most enjoyable about this audible book. I'm not sure if that was the purpose of the book but it rose above the story of modern life and the detailed history of the border lands between England and Scotland. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

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  • John
  • 26-02-2019

Absolutely wonderful!

Rory Stewart has great integrity in everything he does and clearly his father is his great influence. Fascinating book on history and geography of the Marches.

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  • Ellijay
  • 11-08-2018

An Easy Listen

A great story about Father Son relationship that held my attention from beginning to end.

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  • AF
  • 17-12-2017

The Marches

Delightful journey alongside Hadrian’s Wall and meanderings back through the Borderland Marches. Plenty of fascinating facts, impressions and opinions. Anyone who enjoys delving into the history of the Scottish/English border, its languages, landscape will love this book. Relationship with his somewhat eccentric but highly intelligent father is obviously very close. Very touching section on his father’s end. It is a delight to hear the author read his book with such clarity and feeling.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-05-2020

A charming book read with poise and presense

It's difficult to surmise this book. Rory weaves gorgeous descriptions of landscape, insightful interviews, fascinating lesser known histories and an intimate study of his father, Brian Stewart. Read with delicate care, this book clearly means a lot to him and it was a pleasure to listen to. It gave me a great deal to reflect on.

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  • Peter Bates
  • 10-10-2021

A love-letter to the memory of his Father

Ostensibly setting out as an account of English & Scottish nationhood, history and tradition, and their footprints in the modern State Of The Union, framed by descriptions of a series of walks through the Border landscapes and habitations, and conversations with an eclectic cast of locals, illustrated by musings on parallels between the Roman occupation of this land and Britain's own Empire and foreign incursions in the Far East, Iraq and Afghanistan, the connecting thread of Mr Stewart's conversations and relationship with his aging father moves ever more centre stage until it becomes clear that this book is in essence a touching love-letter to that bond and memory, concluding fittingly with an account of his last days and an affirmative nod to his life phiilosophy- to 'Get on with it!'

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  • eric.rayner@btinternet.com
  • 23-09-2021

Rory lost his way when he reached Scotland

I expected an interesting travelogue, some history and some commentary on modern life, and I got a decent serving of that, but the final chapters of the book deals with the death of Rory's father and his funeral. It gave the book a strange twist at the end which sat oddly for me.

I would have liked another few chapters of travel and commentary and the death of his father to be written in as a page-long postscript.

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  • jane
  • 28-10-2020

An unusual and totally captivating book

Wonderful book! Thought provoking and companionable, authentic and profound.
The author reads it beautifully and with love.

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  • Zachary James Osman
  • 23-10-2020

Eminently listenable voyage through a father son relationship, and the Borders of Scotland and England

A wonderful book, very suited to an audio format. Its a humorous reflection on his incredible father, full of idiosyncrasies and eccentricities, and a historical reflection on the ‘Middleland’, Cumbria, Hadrian’s Wall, British geography and Scottish nationalism.

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  • R.
  • 18-07-2020

Great ‘father and son’ story

Rory is a devoted and loving son. His father was an adoring and loving father. One may interchange the adjectives. It was read brilliantly. It was written excellently. Gives an idea how one of the best statesmen of current times was brought up and loved. The words used to describe the environs, The Highlands and all, take readers there without having to physically travel. Amazing read!

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