Mining communities have long provided compelling backdrops to works of literature and drama, from Zola's Germinal to Stephen Daldry's Billy Elliott. They have also been exhaustively studied by sociologists and social anthropologists for insights into the working and social lives of men and women who survived against the odds in physically crippling jobs while maintaining both their individual dignity and their community spirit. Peter Crookston's book offers a beautifully written journalist's account of a Durham mining village woven around the life of Robert Saint, the composer of Gresford, a brass band composition commemorating an earlier mining disaster in which 256 workers died. Crookston brings his formidable observational qualities and writing skills as a journalist to produce a gripping narrative with utterly compelling characters and a heart-rending culmination in the demise of the mining industry under assault by Thatcher and her henchmen. The story is told in a gentle, unpretentious way, frequently giving voice to the characters themselves, many of whom the author knew personally or got to know in preparing the book. Apart from capturing a critical moment in a disappearing world, the book offers a vantage point from which to reflect on our own culture, what we have lost in a world of sensationalism, consumption and constant internet browsing: the loss of community which did so much to sustain and nurture those miners in their desperate plights.