The Story of Wales Paperback – 6 Jun 2013
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An ambitious one-volume history
From the Back Cover
Accompanying a landmark BBC series presented by Huw Edwards, The Story of Wales is an ambitious account of Welsh history for a new generation. Drawing on the latest research, Jon Gower revaluates the critical events in Wales's timeline and what relevance they have for Wales today.
This one-volume history examines Wales on an epic timescale, from the earliest settlements through to the present day. Gower revisits the major turning points in Welsh history, including the forging of Welsh identity during the Middle Ages and the rise and fall of the fledgling Welsh state under Llywelyn the Last, through to the country's transformation into an economic power with the Industrial Revolution, its participation in the creation of a modern British Welfare State and the economic boom of the 1940s and 50s.
Gower re-examines many of the myths and misconceptions about this glorious country, uncovering rich evidence of its outward-looking dynamism and its important role on the world stage, as well as revealing a Welsh people who have reacted with energy and invention to changing times and opportunities. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
In terms of word count and the author's background as a general man of letters it cannot stand up against the heavyweight academic historians of Wales. But nor was it intended to; it is pitched at a popular audience. This is made clear from the fact that the publishers have opted to give a larger blurb and photograph to a television face than to the actual author. The view through a cultural lens anyhow varies from that of the professional historian. As example, the Eton-educated director of "The Proud Valley", we are told, originally wanted to call it "One in Five", in reference to the injury rate in the mines at the time.
The book has several virtues. It is clearly structured; five parts, divided into twenty-eight chapters. It is readable throughout. Thus Vikings do not just attack but "they would shark in from the open waters." The author reports on a woman in wartime Cardiff dawdling on her way to the air raid shelter. The reason is that she cannot locate her teeth. "Hitler's dropping bombs, not sandwiches" comments her neighbour.
I personally have small interest in medievalism, where and when the borders of Sycharth or Deheubarth may have moved and shifted. But I am interested in the last couple of centuries. The Rebecca Riots happened in my part of Wales- a former tollbooth that was attacked is visible from the room in which I write. I began by seeing what the book had to say. The Riots get a couple of pages and it is a full and good description.
It is right up to date. It is good on the history of rugby.Read more ›
Unfortunately the book is also marred by factual errors of which here are a few examples. The Black Prince died in 1376 not prematurely in 1346 (p 133). The battle of Bryn Glas was in 1402 not 1403 (p 139 - 140). The strange statement `Many of the copper mines of Wales often sprang up alongside coal mining areas' (p 192.) Copper mines and coal mines are in totally different geological areas. Copper ore had to be shipped to coal rich areas or vice versa. Again `From 1845, the British navy plumped for copper bottomed ships': the boom in the naval usage of copper sheathing was in the 1780s after the invention of cold rolled copper bolts by 1845 Muntz metal (60% copper, 40% zinc with a trace of iron) was the favoured sheathing material. The Greenfield Valley was not coal rich (p 193: copper ore was shipped to St Helens not Greenfield.
There is no mention of the textile industries of north and mid Wales, of the brick and pottery industries, of the more recent oil and natural gas related developments or of the devastation caused to communities by the closure of coal mines, steel making and textile industries in the twentieth century. At best an easy to read book of interesting anecdotes but definitely not `The History of Wales'.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My friend loves this book and all things welsh, as he is one and loves his history.
He like to know everything about everything and this certainly allows him to delve... Read more