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A History of Wales

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  346 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
This account traces the history of Wales, from the earliest times to the late-20th century. From the first Welshmen at Ffynnon Beuno to the miners' strike, from the Red Lady of Paviland to the establishment of the Welsh television channel, from the end of the Ice Age to the politics of today, this book is a comprehensive and detailed study of the whole span and history of ...more
Paperback, 736 pages
Published March 1st 1995 by Penguin Books (first published 1990)
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Stephanie Griffin
Apr 22, 2008 Stephanie Griffin rated it it was ok
A HISTORY OF WALES, by John Davies, chronicles the turbulent history of Wales from ancient times until the late part of the 20th century.
Only those familiar with the layout of Wales can really follow the text, as there isn't a general map that shows major cities, rivers, etc. Therefore, it doesn't do a lot of good to tell us that something happened between this river and that river if we have no idea where those rivers are. Oddly, there are several maps of insignificant items such as "the distri
...more
Sam
While this took me over a month to get through I was kind of glad I persevered with it as it is well researched and very detailed and even I learned a thing or two about my native land that I didn't know. Having said that though it is a very dry read and it does focus on the political and religious side of things a bit too much for my liking, particularly given the diverse characters we have both past and present, not to mention the stories, folklore and tall tales that have been handed down ...more
Rod
Jul 27, 2011 Rod rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Davies is to be commended for the huge amount of time and research he must have invested to produce such a detailed chronology of the Welsh experience.
Gaby
Aug 09, 2012 Gaby rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wales, favorites
absolutely brilliant, a book full of information
Paula
Nov 11, 2016 Paula rated it did not like it
I love reading history. I really wanted to love this book, since I have Welsh ancestry and wanted to understand my roots. I can put up with a lot of dry reading if I feel that I am learning something. With all of the great reviews, I thought for sure this would be a good read. However, this was among the driest reading I have ever struggled through. It was page after page of names, dates and places (with few maps to help locate these) with few enriching details. The author often said things like ...more
Benjamin
Mar 30, 2016 Benjamin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wales
John Davies' A History of Wales is quite the comprehensive work on Welsh history! It's a dense volume spanning prehistory until the early 21st century and deserves serious applause.

It did, however, take me an astonishing amount of time to trudge through (15 months off and on). For me, this is because the focus of this "History Of" leans heavily towards the politico-religious history of Wales. Davies' discussion of the early Welsh identity up until the closure of its medieval period was a really
...more
Jon
Oct 27, 2009 Jon rated it did not like it
Shelves: will-not-finish
I gave it all I had, but it finally crushed my sole at about page 450. I almost made it through, but I could just not read another page. The author's prose, his approach of the subject matter, and the lack of depth of information regarding much of the material was just disappointing. I felt myself not being able to follow his train of thought at times.
The author spent much of the time just covering the different religious movements through out the countryside of the time, while never painting a
...more
Reddogs11
Jun 22, 2016 Reddogs11 rated it liked it
Shelves: european-history
i haven't finished reading this book yet, but i wanted to mention what is in it .

i brought the book on-line without reading many reviews(it was recommended as a top book on a history site i like). i brought this book wanting to learn about early welsh history from about 48-1500, but this book is pretty light on the early history, page 1 to 386 is dedicated to fist settlement of wales to 1850, while page 387 to 711 is about wales from 1850 to present, which i wasn't very interested in.

so if you w
...more
David R.
Mar 16, 2014 David R. rated it it was ok
Davies takes the long view, and is the case with Penguin Classics, grinds through a workmanlike history of the troubled land of Wales. Despite a few flashes of clever, understated phrasing the book is rather dry and tedious especially in the sections from the 16th through 18th centuries. Davies spends too much time obsessing about the political choices of the Welsh (uniformly anti-England) and not as much diving how the Welsh managed to hold on to so much of their ethnic nationhood despite long ...more
Elizabeth F
Jun 01, 2011 Elizabeth F is currently reading it
This book takes you from early archeologic history of the British Isles,into written history. It is PACKED (and I do mean packed)with information, such that I have to have a laptop at my side, with a Welsh-English dictionary open, as well as Wikipedia, for a reminder/explanation of whatever event is being discussed. While mostly a straightforward history, Mr Davies does allow himself the occasional twentieth or twenty-first century comment, providing a rare chuckle in the midst of this dense ...more
Michelle
May 31, 2010 Michelle rated it liked it
Shelves: british-history
Man, this was a tough read. Literally took me over two years to slog my way through it, but I finally made it. I do agree and wish the author paid more attention to the personalities, which we all know *make* the very history we enjoy reading. Still, as a non-Welsh, but someone who's very interested in Wales, this provided great insight. Need an update through 2010 as my edition (is there an updated version?) only went through the late 80s.
Michaela
Jun 17, 2015 Michaela rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, welsh
I finally finished! A history book of epic undertaking, so it was a slog at times. Unfortunately for me much of history is political and that I have a very hard time maintaining interest. But for sheer historical quantity I feel it deserves 5 stars. Plus, it is Wales! And I am more than normally biased.
Emily
Mar 26, 2014 Emily rated it really liked it
Because the topic is so broad (the entire of history of Wales from the beginning to now), the sections don't always have the depth I would like. It's already very dense, so making it any longer would probably require it to be divided into volumes, which may not have been a bad thing. Overall, though, this is a good comprehensive history for putting more specific events in perspective.
Marc Bentley
While the books is overall quite dry, it does pick up after 1536 or so; the sections on Wales 1980-2007 is quiet well done and should be appreciated. A tough read, but if you want to know Welsh history, it's a must read.
Ruth
Dec 28, 2013 Ruth rated it liked it
This has been quite a tough read for me, probably because I am new to the subject, but it has been interesting, and I have learned a lot. Since this is one of my places of origin, it has been worth it to me to work through.
secondwomn
Jul 23, 2010 secondwomn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, 2010
well done political history of wales. some detours into culture and linguistics. comprehensive look at the entire history of the region. this book won't give you the details, and it does presume a passing familiarity with welsh-ness, but it's a great broad overview.
Annette
Nov 17, 2008 Annette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is the Bible re. the history of Wales, in my point of view. I have read it a couple of times and consult it every now and again.
Mr C
Mr C rated it it was amazing
Nov 13, 2015
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May 04, 2015
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Nov 05, 2016
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Harry Tomos rated it it was amazing
Dec 14, 2014
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Sep 24, 2013
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Jun 27, 2014
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Oct 18, 2013
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John Davies is a Welsh historian, and a television and radio broadcaster. After teaching Welsh history at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, he retired to Cardiff, and appears frequently as a presenter and contributor to history programmes on television and radio.

In the mid-eighties, Davies was commissioned to write a concise history of Wales by Penguin Books to add to its Pelican series of the
...more
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