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Shadows in a Landscape

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edited by Martin Wibberley

  It's difficult to know where to start in reviewing a book like this - there is just so much about it that is good. The nearest I can come to criticism is to say that the editor, Martin Wibberley, deserves more credit than he has been given on the front cover.

  Subtitled "The Evolution of a Community", Shadows in a Landscape is the millennium publication of the Llangynidr Local History Society.  In an earlier version of this review, I wrote that it had received Lottery funding; but I have been corrected on this point - which makes it all the more remarkable an achievement.  The society helped finance it by subscription, the names of those who contributed being listed at the back of the volume. Apart from the identity of the publisher, only the layout gives this production away as the work of "amateur" authors. The attractive cover, professional standards of proof-reading, editing and printing, and the wealth of illustrations, both colour and black-and-white, all come together superbly in a publication which must be the envy of other local groups throughout the UK.

  It is an ambitious enterprise, aiming to provide a comprehensive record of the history of Llangynidr and its surrounding area - which includes the manor of Tretower and sections of the Brecon and Abergavenny Canal. Although much of the research behind the book originated from the activities of local history classes, it is clear that the enthusiasm of the local community has carried them onto a higher plane. They seem to have been unable to rest until they produced something as near to perfection as they could hope to achieve with their resources. It seems to me that they have surpassed this goal.

The book is neatly and sensibly laid out, in a logical sequence that begins with a listing of all the historical monuments in the district and progresses through a chronological discussion of the periods they represent. Appropriate attention is given to the "meat" of local history: the detailed description of the development of transport, industry, buildings and social life in the area around Llangynidr. Finally, we are treated to a series of walks which promise to bring the content alive for visitors and those who do not already know the area well. The quality reproduction of old photographs, maps, plans and drawings is a significant feature which is bound to attract readers from far afield, and represents outstanding value for money. Unlike so many books of this type, which fall down in the detail, Shadows in a Landscape also includes a decent index, something I consider vital for such a major undertaking.

  In short, it is impossible to find adequate praise for the community effort which has gone into the making of this book. All I can say is that I hope the Llangynidr History Society, after this magnificent achievement, can find another challenge on which to focus their enthusiasm and abilities.


ISBN 0 9538778 1 7  Published by Llangynidr Local History Society, 2000.
298pp, illustrated paperback    Retail price 10

Open Book

Review by Deborah Fisher

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