Category Archives: Writer

How Alastair Borthwick Became Nationally Famous In Scotland

Alastair Borthwick was an acclaimed nature writer and broadcaster. He was born in Scotland and became a writer when he was just 16 years old. His life included writing two literary classics, serving in World War II, and decades as both a radio and television broadcaster. He died at age 90 after achieving national fame.

At age 16 he joined the Evening Times in Glasgow and then the Glasgow Weekly Herald. Since this newspaper had just five employees he was put to work writing multiple features, answering letters to the editor, news articles, and creating the crossword. This newspaper had an open-air page and it was through this that he developed a lifelong passion for rock-climbing and being out in nature.

His first book, Always A Little Further, was published in 1939. In this book, he shared his adventures in nature. Other nature books of the time were pretty dry. His books were lively with comedy, interesting characters, and situations. 15 years later, Alastair Borthwick wrote Sans Peur which detailed his experiences in World War II. This book was as acclaimed as his first one by critics and readers alike.

He moved to London in 1935 and before long became a BBC radio broadcaster. He is best-known for talking about the outdoors but he covered other topics as well. He was very talented at this and nobody listening knew he was reading as he talked. When the war broke out he returned to Scotland and enlisted. He was eventually a captain and served through to the end of the war.

Alastair Borthwick had married just before entering the military. After the war was over, he and his wife moved away from the city to the coast of Jura. They lived in a small cottage for seven years and had a son there, Patrick. During this time he worked for the BBC as a radio broadcaster. He also wrote for the News Chronicle. In the 1960s, he signed with Grampian TV and produced programs covering a wide range of subjects with his best-known one program being Scottish Soldier.

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Filed under Adventurer, Historian, Journalism, Radio Broadcaster, Writer

Alastair Borthwick, Great in War and Writing

Alastair Borthwick grew up in Troon. He studied at Glasgow and left when he was sixteen. Alastair started working for the Evening Times as a copytaker. After some time, he was employed by the Glasgow Weekly Herald which was smaller than the Evening Times. However, he was assigned better roles, and he wrote on various topics for the front page, children’s and the women’s pages. He was also tasked with creating the crossword.

Mr. Borthwick discovered rock climbing through writing for the Herald magazine. Rock climbing was an activity for the rich, but it started gaining popularity within the working-class and young people. Alastair started writing about the culture of hiking, and it became the main topic for his Open Air columns for the Heralds magazine. The knowledge he gained on rock climbing was incorporated in his first book, “Always a Little further.” In spite of his social status, Alastair associated with common people. He led a simple life.

The first book by Alastair Borthwick was based on the fun times he had when mountain climbing in the Scottish highlands. It was published in 1939. “Always a Little Further” captures the beginning of many movements including the grass-roots movement and the establishment of associations such as the national youth hostels association.

While author of the time wrote about the art of mountaineering and captured elites from well off families, Alastair described the personalities of the common folks, their challenges, and their hiking preferences.

His second novel, “Battalion” was based on the Second World War. He led an army into the war until the end of the Second World War. His experiences in war inspired him to write “Battalion.” For Alastair Borthwick, being in war was a great experience. Towards the end of the war, Colonel John Sym gave him a task of documenting the battalion. Finally, he was doing something he loved.

As the title of his first book suggests, Mr. Borthwick was always moving a little further in his life. Alastair’s books are important for history. One was written during an era of great social changes, and the other one was documenting the last days of the world war. Alastair Borthwick  is remembered as a talented broadcaster, journalist and a war historian.

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Doug Levitt and the Greyhound Diaries

In 2008, a war zone foreign correspondent for among others, CNN and MSNBC took his notebook and his acoustic guitar, and boarded a Greyhound bus to take to the road in an effort to get to know real people in America for whom this low point in our country’s economy were impacted the most, and worst. Doug Levitt interviewed other travelers, played on street corners, in bus terminals, and at city council meetings across the country, writing and strumming his special blend of folk-pop-rock music.

Levitt has logged in over 120,000 miles since then, having published his book written on the road, “The Greyhound Diaries” which is comprised of testimonials of people’s lives and the impact poverty, economic hard times, and social politics has had on them and their families. He walks in the footsteps of other social activists and artists, including Woody Guthrie and John Steinbeck.

He has performed at USC, Kennedy Center and countless homeless shelters, photographed thousands of people, and asked real questions of ordinary Americans. The result was a 212-page paperback book from North, South, East and Western areas of the country.

The Greyhound Diaries comes off to the reader as arresting, sometimes depressing, and definitely a grim cross-section of gender, race, creed, poverty levels, outliers, drug and alcohol abusers, and other artists of a kind, discussing along this “odyssey” of a journey on hard, plastic and sometimes tattered seats via fully-seated busses, taking off from city and small town terminals.

As a musician, there are several MP3, CD and live streaming opportunities to hear selected songs, written and performed by Levitt with titles such as:



Fayetteville 3AM

Strongest Soul

In the Shadow of the City

Truck Drivers Road


Ballad of the Sunrise Motel

Awake on Orchard Street


Way Stations

Tall Lights

Anywhere But Here

McClean, Virginia


All of these are labeled EP for Extended Player, longer than a single but shorter than an album, usually between 4 and 6 tracks. EP versions of an artist’s creation is what the music industry defines as “used to raise awareness of their talent.”

Doug Levitt still takes to the road, taking notes, and still songwriting with an increased focus on being a voice for perhaps millions of Americans who travel by bus, fight to survive, and hopefully, find some peace along the ride. It might be called a road trip journal, as it includes his voice and style in the telling of fascinating stories from voices that, according to Levitt, need to be heard.

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Filed under Poet, Writer