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King Copper: South Wales and the Copper Trade 1584-1895 Paperback – 15 Mar 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wales Press; second edition (15 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0708324916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0708324912
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,416,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"This is a most impressive book that provides a concise and lucid general account of the copper industry in south Wales . . . King Copper is a stimulating study grounded in careful scholarship and written in a lively, confident style. It throws much new light on a vital dimension of South Wales's industrial history and for this reason the book deserves to be widely read." -Welsh History Review

About the Author

Ronald Rees is a retired Professor of Geography at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By jjandannette@onetel.co.uk, Dr Jeremy J A Black on 1 Sept. 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a narrative history of the development and social impact of a major Industry producing one of the vital raw materials for the industrial age. The production of copper from the crude ores (smelting) is covered in reasonable detail, but this is not a treatise on the applied chemistry of the process. Professor Rees concentrates more on the social and trade aspects of the industry, revealing its origins in the physical geography of the UK and describing the worldwide traffic in copper ores in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He paints a graphic picture of the working conditions in the ships transporting ore to the South Wales coast as well as the smelters there. He also describes the effects of the developing industry on the social as well as the physical geography of the area. I thought the descriptions of the court cases (concerning the effects of the industrial pollution the smelters produced) were unneccessaily long. The Copper Magnates are presented in a neutral light and the reader can form his/her own opinions regarding their actions. They make interesting comparison with the Iron-masters of the same region. The book also examines the issue of industrial pollution and public health. The attitudes of many of the leading medical experts are (in retrospect) jaw-droppingly complacent. The book suffers from having few maps of the areas described, and since there are few if any remains now to be seen, it is difficult to envisage the industry at its height. Do not buy this book as a field guide! Nonetheless, it is an accessible and easy read and illuminates an industry that has now passed into the depths of history but whilst its furnaces burned, it managed to mould a major city and its environs.
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By AJS Sharples on 30 May 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book consists of some interesting but brief bits and pieces on things like the seaborne trade before descending into a detailed description of nineteenth century legal disputes over pollution from the smelting works. It would have made a good, if not particularly important, section in a serious history. What it isn't is a study of King Copper 1584-1895.

The tin and copper smelters were one of the most extraordinarily secretive commercial groups in British history and research on them, if it's even possible, must be a nightmare. One can, therefore, sympathise with Ronald Rees who writes elegantly and well. But it's still a missed opportunity. And the publishers shouldn't have used such a misleading title.
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