The majority of contemporary reports of the Highland Clearances were composed by journalists or the parties who put the evictions into effect. Landowners did not maintain accurate numbers of evictions and the negative consequences that resulted. Villages were destroyed to discourage tenants from returning, often before they could remove themselves or their possessions, resulting in severe hardship and even death. Originally a series of newspaper articles grouped by topic and published over a period of many months, Macleod's writings have remained largely unread. MacGowan edits and annotates the letters to present a chronological and powerful account of the tragedy.