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.