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Publisher's Summary

Brittle with Relics is a landmark history of the people of Wales during a period of great national change.

'There is no present in Wales, and no future; There is only the past, brittle with relics.' ('A Welsh Landscape', R. S. Thomas)

In the closing third of the 20th century, Wales experienced the simultaneous effects of deindustrialisation, the subsequent loss of employment and community cohesion and the struggle for its language and identity. These changes were largely forced upon the country, whose own voice, rarely agreed upon within its borders, had to fight to be heard outside of Wales.

Brittle with Relics is a history of the people of Wales undergoing some of the country's most seismic and traumatic events: the disasters of Aberfan and Tryweryn, the rise of the Welsh language movement, the miners' strike and its aftermath and the narrow vote in favour of partial devolution.

Featuring the voices of Neil Kinnock, Rowan Williams, Leanne Wood, Gruff Rhys, Michael Sheen, Nicky Wire, Sian James, Welsh language activists, members of former mining communities and many more, this is a vital history of a nation determined to survive, while maintaining the hope that Wales will one day thrive on its own terms. 

©2022 Richard King (P)2022 Faber Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"Richly humane, viscerally political, generously multi-voiced, Brittle with Relics is oral history at its revelatory best: containing multitudes and powerfully evoking that most remote but also resonant of times, the day before yesterday." (David Kynaston)

"A testament to the brutal circumstances that bonded the communities of Wales into a new polity for the 21st century." (Gruff Rhys)

"This book is a guide to remembering who we can be when we work together." (Gwenno Saunders)

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If you love Wales, you must listen to this!

Like thousands around the world, I’m learning the Welsh language. If you are, too, you absolutely need to listen to this. This is exciting, riveting listening! And I learned so much. I’ve jotted down names and places and events to go back and research later. This book is a gold mine of modern Welsh history. A big thanks to the author and all of the narrators.

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  • D. Lewis-Smith
  • 07-09-22

If Richard King did not exist,

...we would have to invent him.

An excellent interweaving of voices - both in source material and readers - giving a multi-faceted reflection of a period that needs this sort of deep dive. Well done to the author of being able to weave a narrative from strands often kept far apart in popular media.

Though I’m not sure why the quoted lyrics from “Can I Gymru” stop two thirds of the way through.

A minor quibble - a book that puts Rowan Williams, Dave Datblygu, Carmen Thomas, Ann Pettitt, Neil Kinnock and Anghard Tomos into conversation is a vital, and splendidly read, contribution to historical understanding.

1 person found this helpful