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A History of Wales [Paperback]

John Davies
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 Jan 2007

Stretching from the Ice Ages to the present day, this masterful account traces the political, social and cultural history of the land that has come to be called Wales.

Spanning prehistoric hill forts and Roman ruins to the Reformation, the Industrial Revolution and the series of strikes by Welsh miners in the late twentieth century, this is the definitive history of an enduring people: a unique and compelling exploration of the origins of the Welsh nation, its development and its role in the modern world. This new edition brings this remarkable history into the new era of the Welsh Assembly.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Revised edition (25 Jan 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140284753
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140284751
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 145,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

John Davies is a native of the Rhondda. He was educated in schools in Treorci, Bwlchllan and Tregaron and at University College, Cardiff, and Trinity College, Cambridge. He taught at the University Colleges of Swansea and Aberystwyth and was for eighteen years the Warden of Neuadd Pantycelyn, Aberystwyth. His other publications include Cardiff and the Marquesses of Bute, Hanes Cymru, Broadcasting and the BBC in Wales, The Making of Wales, The Celts and Cardiff: a Pocket Guide. He is the consultant editor of The Encyclopaedia of Wales. His wife comes from Blaenau Gwent and they have two daughters and two sons.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Once upon a time, the Welsh knew when their history began. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best 23 Oct 2007
As a librarian, I'm sometimes asked which is the best one-volume work on the history of Wales. Until the first edition of John Davies' book was published, this was something of a problem. The best books on Welsh history dealt with particular periods, while there were drawbacks to all the complete one-volume histories.

John Davies changed all that. Always objective and fair-minded, he neither parrots cliches, as so many books on Wales do, nor rides his own hobby-horses. He gives space to political history, social history, economic history and cultural history. He manages to cram a remarkable quantity of information into 700-odd pages, while still keeping it very easy to read.

The second edition has a new chapter taking us up to the Welsh Assembly era. Sufficient to say that it is of the same high standard as the remainder of the book. If you only buy one book on Welsh history, make it this one.
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95 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive book on Wales 2 Mar 1999
By A Customer
Dr Davies modestly titled his book 'A History of Wales". A wise decision as history can be difficult to define when so much is based on subjective information and story telling passed down over many centuries.
Yet this is a masterful book, probably the best book on Welsh history to date. It is clear, factual but never tedious. Above all, it places Welsh history where it belongs; alongside English and Scottish history, the latter two dominating British text books for many years.
It is very tempting to become overly romantic about Wales, in a way that distorts historical facts. The relationship between Wales and England is a good exmaple. John Davies deals with these conflicts of interest in an honest and illuminating way, remaining objective whilst never failing to under-portray Wales.
A highly recommended book for those genuinely interested in the first nation of Britain.
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long overdue 20 Dec 2005
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
Even in the great 'Celtic revival' of the past generation, where the cultures of the Celtic fringes of Britain and continental Europe have re-exerted themselves in various political and non-political ways, the Welsh revival has been late in coming, and a little less forceful in affect and event.
Perhaps history is to blame here -- the Welsh have been only marginally protected by geography; the mountainous area was difficult terrain to conquer, but the supply lines to those mountains were relatively easy to maintain and sustain, unlike the trek to the northern reaches of Scotland or crossing the sea into Ireland, areas that (however much English history might want to contradict this statement) never were completely conquered and subdued, remaining under the hegemony but outside the total control of Londinium/London from Roman times to the recent past. Wales was never so fortunate. Indeed, it is a miracle that the Welsh survive. The Scots lost land, language and independence, but retained administrative and legal systems separations that preserved many aspects of nationhood. The Irish never completely lost independence. The Welsh, however, lost everything of nationhood, and barely sustained an independent culture. Thus, when the 'nations' of the British Isles began to re-exert their independent interpretations of history, the Welsh were among the last.
However, sometimes the last shall be first. In terms of quality of writing and interpretation, the volume by John Davies, `A History of Wales', is indeed in a class of its own in terms of Welsh history. Dafydd Elis Thomas read into the `Hansard' (the British Parliamentary equivalent of the `Congressional Record') that this is 'the greatest of book of Welsh history ever written'.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great reading 5 Feb 2004
ok, ok, i'm not completely finished reading this book, but i can tell you that what i'vew read so far has been astonishingly interesting and just so easy to read! it even gave me a crisis of conscience concerning my choice of university course, and i feel that a book that moves you in any way is a book that you should own. the writing is both interesting and informative, captivating and convincing. i honestly am glad that i own this book, and now i want the Welsh version, because the English one was so so good!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Complete History of Wales 13 Feb 2013
By cymro
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the seminal work on the subject written concisely, clearly and interestingly throughout whether in the original Welsh or inits excellent English translation. No library whether municipal or private should be without it and it should be advisory reading for anyone who has a problem understanding why Wales and England are not perceived as the same by the Welsh. it was particularly well received by a Dutch Psychologist acquaintance.
The latest edition is totally up to date.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars definitive book for the history of Wales 16 Oct 2002
By Deborah MacGillivray HALL OF FAME VINE VOICE
While Scotland and the medieval periods is my area of history, I often have need to know what is going on in England, Ireland and Wales, to fully understand what is going on in the 'big picture'. The history of Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland did not happen individual vacuums, you so need to know all their histories to fully comprehend external pressures as well as the inner problems of each nation. So I have found this a wonderful work for reference on Wales.
It covers the history of the country from the dawn of time to 20th Century. So if you wish to know about Ffynnon Beuno or the Rebecca Wars, this is your book.
Excellent reference for Historical writers.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars This is quite a detailed history littered with difficult Welsh ...
This is quite a detailed history littered with difficult Welsh names. The earlier parts I found interesting but I lost interest when I came to the more recent times.
Published 2 months ago by H. C. A. King
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
Very slim volume for a big topic. However it does include information I did not know and I would recommend it.
Published 6 months ago by Graham John Cooling
5.0 out of 5 stars A History of Wales
This book is must for anyone of Welsh roots. Charting the history of the Princes of Wales and the battles with the English Kings. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Gwyneth Ann Harding
3.0 out of 5 stars Wales History
This is OK but it is such a small book for such a large subject it obviously isn't going to help with deep studies,
Published 11 months ago by K. Taylor
1.0 out of 5 stars Rubbish edition
Fortunately I have the print version so I know this is a good book, however, the Kindle edition is rubbish, full of typos, conjoined words, and poor Welsh spelling. Read more
Published 14 months ago by P. Squires
3.0 out of 5 stars Past Unsolved
This represents a knowledgeable tour-de-force of the history of Wales from the earliest times. It is particularly instructive in terms of statistics for the later periods, and the... Read more
Published 21 months ago by S. G. Raggett
4.0 out of 5 stars Wales - the Unknown Country
I've always felt a bit sorry for the Welsh as their proximity to England has put them at a disadvantage to the other Celtic nations - Ireland separated by the sea and Scotland... Read more
Published on 14 Mar 2012 by John Fitzpatrick
5.0 out of 5 stars what a shame this wasn't translated into English sooner
This book is as numerous reviewers have said an ideal introdeuction to the history of Wales. What a shame that for several years it was available only in Welsh.
Published on 5 Mar 2012 by green-cheese
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of formatting errors and spelling mistakes - Kindle version
I own the paperback version (which is a great book and an enjoyable read) however due to travelling frequently, I also bought the Kindle version to read on the go. Read more
Published on 14 Feb 2012 by James N Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars mahosny
Excellent service, arrived in time and well packed. I bought it for my wife who is Welsh and interested in Welsh history. Read more
Published on 7 Jan 2012 by mahosny
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