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"Brad Evans captivating history of south Wales is written with authentic authority. It is evocative and excellent in every possible way. Evans provides a cliche-free, myth-lancing account of a “Coal Colony" discarded by the powers that were after tearing use and relentless abuse. He doesn’t turn away from the alchemy of poverty which “numbed ambition” or the fates of lives corroded into disengagement, but he is tough enough to “hold to the glimmer within the darkness”. Sometimes lyrical, never romantic he offers analytical passion, acidic candour, some love, deep melancholy, dry mirth, scorn for nostalgia about “a past that never really existed” and an unbreakable grip on truth. Dylan Thomas wanted “rage against the dying of the light”. Brad Evans bids us join him in that”. 


Neil Kinnock 
Former leader of British Labour party


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“How Black Was My Valley is more than a memoir. Its in-depth analysis captures the beauty of the South Wales Rhondda valleys, mountains and rivers; reflects the dignity of the people, whose language and rich culture has been confronted by the despair of ‘poverty apartheid’ inflicted on abandoned mining communities. From his reflections on the impact of personal loss and destitution, Evans writes sensitively of time, place and circumstance, unpacking the historical detail behind events that shaped the valleys and blighted their communities. Each carefully constructed sentence, every beautifully recorded or imagined moment, is placed alongside tragedy’s reality, ensuring that the ‘view from below’, as lived by the women and men who remain in the grip of economic marginalisation, is heard.”


Phil Scraton 
Author of Hillsborough: The Truth


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“This heartrending book summons powerful spirits from a great well of suffering. People in the valleys of South Wales remade the United Kingdom in the twentieth century, but have been far beneath the concerns of political and economic elite for decades. Brad Evans refuses to ignore these people — his people — as he tallies the steep cost of their abandonment. With striking insight, he shows how neglect has blocked the way to their future. As places in between, valleys can also be passages through. From within the darkest shadows of late Great Britain, both Evans’s prose and Meza’s haunting artwork allow us to glimpse a new vision of folk history from the deep: but it warns that humanity has taken the wrong path, and the light ahead may be too dim to guide us.”

Vincent Brown

Professor of History, Harvard University

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“Evans beautifully crafted words and thoughts are now seared into me forever. Sit with each chapter for a while as its true devastation dawns on you. These are tales of survivance when the outcome looks preordained because of neglect and cruelty, told with a level of detail that truly immerses. Thank God these stories are now being told. The boy of the valleys has come home and roared.”

Lucy Easthope

Author of When the Dust Settles

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“Anybody interested in the history of working class resistance, and people’s daily struggles when confronting deep poverty blighting postindustrial communities should read this devastating study.”

Paul Mason

Author of Post-Capitalism

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"This is a phenomenal, poignant memoir that pulsates with the militant passion and mordant wit of a Welsh Valleys landscape ravaged in turn by the forces of white-on-white colonialism and globalisation. Oscillating between acute socio-economic-political observation and lush, almost mystical lyricism, it is a must read for anyone interested in British social history and all fans of stunningly beautiful prose.”

Gareth Owen

Humanitarian Director, Save the Children

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“Brad has gone down the mines and extracted a wealth of history that had been covered in soot and given serious literary attention to a vital yet overlooked aspect of working class and south Welsh life... a passionate, political, and personal retelling of the history of a place most people aim to avoid.”

Rhys Thomas

Author of The Future of Wales

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