Wales since 1939

By Martin Johnes

Wales since 1939


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8667-0
  • Pages: 480
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £17.99
  • Published Date: May 2012
  • BIC Category: European history, 20th century, c 1900 to c 1999, HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, Humanities / 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000, Humanities / British & Irish history, History, United Kingdom, Great Britain, History & Archaeology


The period since 1939 saw more rapid and significant change than any other time in Welsh history. Wales developed a more assertive identity of its own and some of the apparatus of a nation state. Yet its economy floundered between boom and bust, its traditional communities were transformed and the Welsh language and other aspects of its distinctiveness were undermined by a globalizing world. Wales was also deeply divided by class, language, ethnicity, gender, religion and region. Its people grew wealthier, healthier and more educated but they were not always happier. This ground-breaking book examines the story of Wales since 1939, giving voice to ordinary people and the variety of experiences within the nation. This is a history of not just a nation, but of its residents' hopes and fears, their struggles and pleasures and their views of where they lived and the wider world.


'This is a truly magisterial study and analysis which deserves and will certainly achieve a wide and indeed varied readership.' (Welsh Books Council)

'Martin Johnes has written a fresh, insightful, and interesting study of Welsh history since 1939, telling the story of a small yet complicated nation in a fascinating and engaging way that will be of interest not only to Welsh historians, but to scholars in all areas of modern history.'
Twentieth Century British History

'As a social history of a given corner of our world, this is a good book; scholarly, erudite, comprehensive and exciting. As an account of modern Wales, this is an important, perhaps even vital, document. Indeed, in writing it, Johnes has marked himself out as an historian fit to join the likes of Gwyn Alf Williams, Kenneth Morgan and John Davies as a great panoramic storyteller of the two western peninsulas resolutely known as Wales, but whose recent past is shaped by things that matter more'

'Martin Johnes has written a meticulously informed account of our recent history, founded on prodigious data, and refreshingly enriched by the 'evidence' of poets and novelists. It is a healthy corrective to idealised narratives of Welsh progress, although perhaps a milder one than he may have intended.'

'Modern Welsh history is not conveniently 'boxed' into categories in Wales since 1939, but instead its multifarious shades of grey of are articulated. Johnes has succeed in portraying the diversity of Wales in the second half of the 20th-century and has remedied the long-standing neglect of several topics under the microscope here. In many ways, this book does for Wales what Peter Clarke's Hope and Glory or Dominic Sandbrook's post-war histories do for Britain: providing an approachable history that does not forget its academic roots.'
Reviews in History

'[It] should be the standard narrative for some time of the forces that have combined to make the Wales of the new century's second decade.'
Wales Arts Review

'This is a truly magisterial study and analysis which deserves and will certainly achieve a wide and indeed varied readership.'
J. Graham Jones, Morgannwg: The Journal of Glamorgan History, volume LVI 2012


1. 'The waging of war', 1939-45
2. 'The spirit of reconstruction'1945-51
3. 'The hard times are finished': The coming of affluence, 1951-64
4. 'Promiscuous living': Youth culture and the permissive society, 1951-70
5. 'A new society': Class and urban communities, 1951-70
6. 'Life among the hills': The Welsh Way of Life, 1951-70
7. 'A cottonwool fuzz at the back of the mind': Language and nationhoods, 1951-70
8. 'Nationalists of many varieties', 1951-70
9. 'Black times': The Passing of Labour, 1966-85
10. 'Under an acid rain': Debating the nations, 1970-85
11. 'Adapt to the future': The Tory remaking of Wales, 1979-97
12. 'Who's happy?': Social change since 1970
13. 'They don't belong here': The countryside since 1970
14. 'A nation once again', 1997-2009


Martin Johnes is Head of History & Classics at Swansea University

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