MICHAEL OF WALES by Paul S. Conklin


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Strong photos, with a How-Green-Was-My-Valley feel for Wales and the Welsh, and a text appreciative of the miners' hard lot overweigh the passing moments with Michael at home, at school, and at large--where, firstly, he identifies with King Charles on his way to the block and, latterly, becomes ""aware of what a great contribution his small country had made to the American cause."" Most of the book, however, describes family life on Arael Street and the mining operations at Six Bells, along with the ""unspeakably bad"" conditions in the valley in the 19th and early 20th centuries and the mining disasters that--climaxing with the 1966 coal tip collapse--have made headlines. Apropos of the last, Conklin juxtaposes an account of reclamation with one of his typically active, empathic photos of bowlers on ""a stretch of manicured grass once occupied by an old tip."" Now and again, too, he captures Michael in mid-flight--swinging from a rope over the valley, cradling one of his collection of birds' eggs in his hand. But chiefly this is a closet documentary--informative and emotionally resonant.

Pub Date: May 23rd, 1977
Publisher: Dodd, Mead