Here are the few facts I know about him. He was born in Dalmuir on the River Clyde. He presently lives – “in exile”, he says – in deepest, darkest Lincolnshire. He is retired, his retirement, like mine, acting as a trigger for him to begin writing in earnest. And oh, yes, he’s older than me. Man, that makes him very old. So old, in fact, that he can remember as a wee laddie being evacuated from his home during the Clydebank Blitz!
What else do I know about him? Well, not only has he been writing books, he’s also been self-publishing them on Amazon. (At his age? I hear you ask.) It turns out that oor Alasdair is a bit of an ancient history buff. A confirmed Egyptophile, his first book, called Thoth: Divine Words, examines the origins of writing in Ancient Egypt. His second, The Exodus: Aaron’s Story, delves into the reasons behind the Children of Israel’s flight from Egypt to the Promised Land. And his third, Pleasant Pastures, builds on the legend that Jesus of Nazareth once visited Britannia.
I’ve read the three books and found all of them fascinating. My reviews of a couple of them are reproduced below. They confirm in my view that Alasdair is a brilliant historian, but a storyteller first, with the ability to transform dry history into highly convincing real life. I’m eagerly awaiting sight of his latest book, which he’s just finishing. He says it’s a sort of Dan Brown pastiche. But it might not be. He is an enigma, after all.
(By the way, Alasdair has also penned a delightful coming-of-age novel set on a small island in the Highlands. Called The Island, the novel was published by McStorytellers late last year. I’m pretty sure it’s autobiographical – but he’ll neither confirm nor deny that, of course.)
Divine Words, Indeed
While McPherson may well be someone with a deep interest in all things Ancient Egypt, he is also a born storyteller; his words in this book are indeed divine.
Alasdair McPherson has gone one better by developing the legend into a full-scale novel. Using that visit by Jesus as a starting point, Pleasant Pastures goes on to relate a great sweep of history, taking in the flight from Judea of the nascent Christians (including a pregnant Mary Magdalene) after Christ’s crucifixion; the Roman invasion and occupation of Britannia (not forgetting the valiant revolt by Boudica); and the spread of Christianity initially in Britannia and later across Erin.
And all of this is told in superb, authentic detail through the mouths of first the ageing Joseph of Aramithea and then the younger Aristobolus. As is also the case in Thoth: Divine Words, McPherson’s earlier foray into Ancient Egypt, it is his ability to humanise history in this way that makes the novel not only a joy to read, but also eye-opening in its revelations about that other “ancient time”.
To quote again from Blake’s poem, McPherson has “built Jerusalem” from what could easily have been a dry history lesson.