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The True Story Behind 'Whisky Galore'

by Roger Hutchinson


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ISBN: 9781780278506
Published: 07 Mar 2024
Format: Paperback
Extent: 176
Publisher: Birlinn Ltd
Imprint: Birlinn
Local history / Humour
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About the Book

Early on a wartime winter’s morning in 1941, the 8,000-ton cargo ship SS Politician ran aground in the beautiful but treacherous seas of Scotland's Outer Hebrides. Among its cargo were 260,000 bottles of whisky destined for the American market – a godsend to the local Eriskay islanders whose home-grown supply had dried up due to wartime rationing.

News quickly spread and boats came from as far as Lewis, and before local excise officer Charles McColl could intervene, more than 24,000 bottles had been 'rescued'. Villages were raided as bottles of whisky were hidden in the most ingenious ways – or simply drunk to get rid of the evidence. Meanwhile, official salvage operations foundered, and in order to pre-vent what the islanders themselves regarded as legitimate salvage, the hull of the Politician was dynamited.

The story is well known through Compton Mackenzie’s bestselling book Whisky Galore and the famous 1949 Ealing comedy of the same name. In this book, acclaimed journalist and Hebridean expert Roger Hutchinson tells the true story of one of the most bizarre events ever to have happened in Scottish waters.

The Author

Roger Hutchinson

Roger Hutchinson is an award-winning author and journalist. After working as an editor in London, in 1977 he joined the West Highland Free Press in Skye. Since then he has published thirteen books, including Polly: the True Story Behind Whisky Galore. He is still a columnist for the WHFP, and has written for BBC Radio, The Scotsman, The Guardian, The Herald and The Literary Review. His book The Soap Man (Birlinn 2003) was shortlisted for the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year (2004) and the bestselling Calum’s Road (2007) was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize.

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