of Soil and Soul Web Pages
1. Critical Acclaim
(on this page)
2. About the book
(on this page)
3. New 2015
TheStoryWeb podcast reading of Chap 1
Buy (UK/Europe) via Word Power
Kindle edition (2012)
Buy French translation ("Chronique d'une
North America distributor - Trafalgar Square
George Monbiot's Foreword
My Introduction to the book
and Bibliographic Extensions
Paperback 2nd & 3rd Edition Additions
Update - Superquarry Saga conclusion
Update - Photo Essay of Mountain Summit Return
Contents Index of my Other Publications
for Soil and Soul
OK - so let's be
honest. I put these book review passages up here to encourage people to
buy and read it. The reviews have been very generous. Here's a selection
of the very best ... and, for honesty, the very worst. Enjoy the lot!
"A beautiful, beautiful book." - Swampy, 15-3-10.
"I cannot recommend the book highly enough." -
of Deacon Blue.
"A must read, that I believe is as important for our
generation as Silent Spring was to our parents. It’s an
entirely factual book and yet much of its poetic impact
derives from real-life magical realism. " - Kevin Redpath,
Soil and Soul by Alastair McIntosh.... His book is
both elegant and prophetic. There is earth in the ink and,
yes, this is the voice crying out from the wilderness.
Good bedtime reading in the Outer Hebrides." Rev
Peter Owen-Jones, Sunday Times, Sept 10 2006.
reading a book called soil & soul, by alistair
somebody, it is truly mental, thats not very punk is it,
unlike mr lydon, who is very punk." - Thom Yorke
of Radiohead (voted rock band of the decade), At
Ease, Nov. 2004. Yorke adds on the
"Links" page of the Radiohead website,
June 2005, "ive finished a book
by him called soil & soul which was very inspiring...
a desire for ecological change with no ego or malignance
and no messianic tendendies...and he has a beard thmx."
Record Interview, 8-6-05, but check with my wife to keep his eulogy in
book in these last days has been the heart in my chest.
Mesmerising. Expansive. A weave! It linked some of my more
lonely thoughts and songs in to an older bigger
picture.... Right up there with Herman Hesse." - Luke
Concannon, lead singer of the chart-topping duo, Nizlopi,
of JCB Song fame, 2004/6.
and relevant." - Iain Anderson, Iain Anderson Show, BBC.
Alastair McIntosh's terrific book, Soil and Soul" - Brian
Logan - The Guardian.
most excellent book. Read it. Peace and goodwill to
all" - (the late great) children's illustrator Harry Horse
in his Sunday Herald Christmas political cartoon on
the theme of 'complicity' with evil, 24 December 2006.
has to be the book of the decade. Lyrical, passionate and poetic.
McIntosh's writing is truly compelling." - Robin Harper MSP
(Green Party), Sunday Herald.
activists win such resounding victories in their lifetime, fewer still
take the trouble to write down how they did it and what inspired them
through the dark days. None that I know of have done it with such a
natural gift for storytelling. The treasures he finds are gems for any
environmental activist in any part of the world." - Jake Bowers, The Ecologist.
new book [is] a powerful addition to the literature of Highland grievance,
distinguished for its attempt to set it in a world context and for the
fluent grace of the writing. Some of it, I confess, I took with a pinch of
impatience. McIntosh writes beautifully about his upbringing on the Isle
of Lewis but can arouse irritation when, for example, he interrupts an
absorbing account of bringing a stag down from the hill with reflections
on the bardic tradition." - Arnold Kemp, The
and Soul is a beautiful book. The message is beautiful and the
writing is beautiful. The message is that power over the land should be
given back to those who live upon it, and McIntosh is a good writer - he
is where poetry meets science.... Although he is not a Gaelic speaker it
is clear that he has deep roots in the place [and] has read what Gaelic
scholars have to say.... He weaves in and out between these two issues
[Eigg and the superquarry campaigns] in a way that will keep your nose
glued to the page, for McIntosh uses a novelist's skills." - Ronald
Black, "A' creidsinn ann an slanachadh 's anns an fhearann", The Scotsman (Gaelic Page,
"There is much of the New Age in this, though McIntosh is careful
to disown the label..... Much of Alastair McIntosh's spirituality comes
across as emotional and disordered, perhaps because he is not a polished
writer.... The appeal of Soil and Soul is in its fearless,
guileless Highland combativeness against evil and error in both matter and
spirit." - Walter Schwartz, The Tablet
"This is a deliciously heavyweight book, rich in substance. It
sets the soul aflame and the mind a-dancing. Seriously playful, it opens
up new avenues of seeing and hearing, poetic and prophetic ...
"dualchas araid agus luachmhor" ... Its radiance pierces the
gloomy winter half-light of nihilistic consumerism. Enough flesh on the
bone then to sustain us through these love-starved times. O taste and see
that God is good!" - Babs Macgregor, Coracle,
"The longer-term interest of this book
surely lies in the scholarship of its more philosophical sections. We can
debate how far the horrifying events of September 11 have really changed
the world.... What hopefully has happened is that we are all more
reflective about what is missing from our lives, our social and political
institutions and our tenancy of the planet [but] remember that McIntosh
and his colleagues at the Centre for Human Ecology were there first,
notwithstanding their expulsion from the University of Edinburgh, an event
which he describes in a remarkably charitable way." - Roger Sidaway, Ecos: Journal of
the British Association of Nature Conservationists.
is here consciously resurrecting the ancient Bardic tradition of the Celts
[asking] how can individuals and small groups stand up against the assault
of 'the Powers'? How can people regain their sense of meaning? McIntosh's
answers to these questions are perceptive and needed. Read them. Let their
essentially spiritual nature influence your own perspectives. And then go
out and act for the world." - Noel Charlton, Resurgence.
beautiful, spiritual book..." Joe Kresse, Timeline, USA.
here for Amazon.co.uk reader reviews
is just a beautiful book, a fantastic book, a book that will help
reconstitute the world." - Professor Walter Wink,
Hudson, NYS, August 2003.
"This is a world-changing book; an adventure in
theology, economics, ecology, history and politics which seeks to guide us
towards a new means of defeating the powerful. One day it'll be recognised
as a classic." - George Monbiot, Sunday Express, (Top 5
"Soil and Soul tackles some of
the most timeless issues about what it means to be
human, to live and care for this planet, and
addresses our own responsibility in this." -
Gerry Hassan, The Scotsman, 2-4-11.
"Alastair’s book ‘Soil and Soul:
people versus corporate power” is hugely important.
I rarely do the “fan” thing, but this is one of the best
books I have ever read and I have never ceased
recommending it to others. His writing, with its
lyrical and spiritual power does not demand a shared
belief, but a shared sense of values, which I think
are hugely relevant today and, in many ways, voice
an unspoken cultural yearning in many people. I
would be delighted to persuade thousands of people
to read (buy!) this book in the certain knowledge it
will be good for them!"
Smit, The Eden project, to Friends of Eden, 9-3-07
"A really wonderful and inspiring book [offering] a fascinating perspective on globalization and development from
someone who comes from a still intact traditional culture. Highly
recommended!" - Starhawk, pers. com., 2003.
"Every now and again you read a book which you can describe in no
other way than 'life-changing'! Soil and Soul by Alastair McIntosh
is such. It was one of the first that I read as I entered the field hedged
in by both ecology and theology. It provided a map for my journey.
Conversations with the author by e-mail and in person have made a great
impact on me." - Bishop James Jones of Liverpool, in
"Jesus and the Earth", SPCK, 2003.
and Soul is a kind of No Logo in a Fair Isle jumper; essential reading
for anyone who cherishes the hope that humanity can yet triumph over the
corporate demon." - Susan Flockhart, Sunday Herald.
"It is a beautifully written analysis.... Its thesis is that it is
still possible for communities to take on corporate big boys and win ...
"turning market forces against themselves"... I warned
you." - Antonia Swinson, Scotland on Sunday (Business
"It is right and proper that he [McIntosh] now has the opportunity
to explain himself and give background colour to these children of the New
Scotland to which he has been a key midwife.... Whilst the writing is
often painfully overblown, the quality of the narrative carries the reader
along if only out of a sense of curiosity to see how long he can sustain
his rant. But there is far too much bad history here, far too much
insecure, self-serving selectivity, far too much dwarfish demonisation of
the enemy and not enough objective confessional about how his own quirky,
sometimes autocratic, style has sometimes led to the alienation of the
causes that he espouses so passionately.... I only hope that this book
brings closure to his political adolescence and gives him the success that
he so richly deserves." - The Honourable Sir Maxwell MacLeod of
"I had at the end some niggling doubts. For one thing, Alastair
throws himself into his activism heart and soul. This is an endearing
quality but not necessarily something that we are all called to and it
would have helped if he had acknowledged this." - Dr Margaret Hannah,
Scientific & Medical Network Review, 2003.
"McIntosh offers a revolutionary praxis which, as it actually
worked itself out, never demonized its opponents but which continued to
extend love and understanding to them.... The book has received wide
praise, and can be read on many levels.... What has not attracted comment,
and the reason for reviewing it here, is that it is also a book of
theology.... Providing the backbone to the narrative of the whole book, is
a theology of creation which draws on ecofeminist insights but which is
also a robust theology of grace. This is what makes the book theologically
important.... Here we have a liberation theology, emerging out of
liberative praxis, in which Calvinism and ecofeminism are indissolubly
fused to offer a liberation theology of creation.... As an unregenrate
Marxist and Barthian I do not agree with all the theological and political
emphases, but on the other hand this is without doubt one of the most
creative pieces of British liberation theology ever written, and it
deserves wide currency, debate and discussion." - Professor Timothy
Gorringe, Political Theology, Continuum, 2003.
"Soil and Soul is an extraordinary adventure in theology,
economics, ecology, history and politics. To quote George Monbiot again,
"It overflows with ecstasy, quiet wisdom and love - love for
humanity, for the world, to our failings and possibilities...." We
agree. This is an uplifting, empowering and inspirational read." Positive News.
"I agree with George Monbiot as he concludes his Foreword
with the words: 'Make no claim to know the world if you have not read this
book.' This enchanting work will be read and discussed for many a long
year." - Frances Hutchinson, The Social Creditor.
"Most people will find things they disagree with: for me it was
the Celtic romanticism, postmodern politics and deep ecology, though he
makes a good case.... Agree or not, this is a powerful book about ecology,
social justice and radical spirituality.... Almost reluctantly, I have to
concede that this is a great book." - E.S., What on Earth (Friends of the Earth).
"A book of passion and wit
... weaving a dizzying range of ideas into a bright fabric.... It is a
book every Scot should read." - John Burnside, The Scotsman.
"McIntosh describes the miracles that can happen when there is a
recovery of the mythological underpinnings of a culture's psyche, as well
as the feminine force of a people's soul and intuition bonded to the
sacred landscape of place.... Very, very inspiring." - Sr. Miriam
MacGillis, Genesis Farm Newsletter (USA).
back cover (right - hardback edition) gives crits from campaigning journalist George
Monbiot, ecofeminist academic Professor Carolyn Merchant and life-sentence "innocent
imprisoned" Tommy "TC" Campbell.
time in history, everywhere on earth, we must redeem our relationship with the
earth if we are to survive as a species. This Scottish-based work is vividly
useful to people everywhere who care about reclamation in the full spiritual and
practical sense of the word.
- Professor Robert Greenway, Olympic Ecopsychology Institute, USA..
Alastair McIntosh’s Soil and Soul leads me on from my
first reading of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. The
same thirst for justice, the same identification of the
eloquent bard with the voiceless ones rekindles poetry and
revolution in the readers heart and thunders forth “alarm!
alarm!” as deep as any Biblical prophesy.
is able to leave one foot firmly planted in the old ways of a native Celtic
people and the other slap bang in the middle of scholarly argumentation thereby
bridging the great divide between poetry and science. He helps us to come to
terms with our broken hearts and understand the dysfunctional power behind the
and Soul is a major work which
stretches us from the psychohistory of colonisation as seen through the lens of
Hebridean culture to inspiring, empowering and entertaining case histories of
community empowerment and cultural healing in which the author has played a
pioneering part: read it!
Australian ecological activist and author of Thinking Like a
Cover (hardback edn): The Stone of the People, Isle of Eigg, erected 1987.
description from the inside cover flap)
is easy to feel helpless in the face of the torrent of information about
environmental catastrophes the world over. In Soil
and Soul, Scottish writer and campaigning academic Alastair McIntosh shows
how it is still possible for individuals and communities to take on the might of
corporate power and emerge victorious.
beliefs are rooted in his upbringing on the Isle of Lewis. The
first part of his book explores how the old way of life in the
Hebrides was threatened with extinction by global capitalism.
He does not advocate returning to a
preindustrial golden age, but balances the gains of
modernity against what has been lost. In particular, he
demonstrates how the rise of the modern era undermined
communities governed by a sense of reverence and mutual
responsibility. But right relationship can be restored, he
suggests, by learning from the bardic tradition to create a
new harmony of soil, soul and society.
second part of the book demonstrates how such principles of
community empowerment can be successfully applied. As a
founder of the Isle of Eigg Trust, Alastair helped the
beleaguered residents of Eigg to become the first Scottish
community ever to clear their laird from his own estate. In a
campaign that earned worldwide renoun, the islanders raised
sufficient funds to oust their landlord , very much against
his will, and successfully galvanized political demands for land
reform in Scotland. Similarly, plans to turn a majestic
Hebridean mountain into a roadstone “superquarry” were
overturned after Alastair persuaded Native American War Chief
Sulian Stone Eagle Herney to visit the Isle of Harris and
testify at the government inquiry.
extraordinary book weaves together theology, mythology, economics, ecology,
history, poetics and politics as the author journeys towards a radical new yet
ancient philosophy of community, Spirit and place. His daring and imaginative
responses to the destruction of the natural world make this an uplifting,
inspirational and often richly humorous read.
McIntosh is a Scottish academic and activist. A fellow of the Centre for Human
Ecology, he lectures all over the world on subjects including new economics,
community and nonviolent defence strategies.
+44 (0)20 7637 3225
+44 (0)20 7580 2469
here to return to the main Soil and Soul menu.
18 Apr 2019