How Black were our Valleys – Book Review

How Black were our Valleys

How Black were our Valleys

Debora Price and Natalie Butts-Thompson

“If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything”
This is what one of the women interviewed for this book feels that she has learned from living in the South Wales valleys and growing up during the coal miners’ strike of 1984/85.  In this way, through interviews and extracts from documents, the book tells of how the strike remains a lived reality in the valley towns of South Wales. One man, a young striker in his teens in 1984, reflected  that “the violence that was inflicted on me and the violence I witnessed fellow miners receive will stay with me for the rest of my days”.

The book itself was inspired by a speeches and discussion at a social evening at the Newbridge Hotel held on the occasion of the funeral of Mrs Margaret Thatcher. This led two undergraduate students to document stories of the strike that  they felt deserved to be more widely heard.  In a very short time, they have collected the materials, and published them in this excellent collection. One of them (Natalie Butts-Thompson) was a teenager herself in 1984 and her personal account is particularly moving. In exploring the voices of the young people the book brings a perspective that has been silent in many accounts of the strike. More generally  it challenges many of the myths that still exist, and helps to explain its lasting significance of the strike in people’s lives.

Review for Amazon

Huw Beynon