Books: Island Scots

THE CROFTER AND THE LAIRD by John McPhee, 159 pages. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $5.75.

Until three centuries ago, before the great clans were broken and the brutal clearance policies of the late 1700s forced Highlanders to emigrate and make way for sheep, every McPhee in the world lived on a tiny island 25 miles off the western coast of Scotland. Among them were the ancestors of John McPhee, an American writer who has been responsible for several fine books of reportage, including last year's tennis classic, Levels of the Game. All his life...

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