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This review is taken from PN Review 183, Volume 35 Number 1, September - October 2008.

WELSH ENOUGH After the First Death: An Anthology of Wales and War in the Twentieth Century, edited by Tony Curtis (Seren) £9.99

The test of a good anthology is whether it prompts the reader into searching out unfamiliar authors. In this way, After the First Death is a catalyst for further reading. It is more than 'another war anthology', for Curtis's selection isn't centred on the male experience, and it isn't about bullets and bombs. The home front, reportage, and relationships, feature just as strongly - but in trying to cover too much ground, any potential themes are spread thinly and any intended focus is lost in a welter of competing voices. Some extracts are too short to convey much at all, which leads me to wonder why they were included; eight inconsequential lines by Lady Margaret Davies on p. 50 being a noticeable example. Perhaps the companion volume Wales and War in the Twentieth Century: A Collection of Critical Essays would enlighten me here, but I would hope that in only 272 pages, each entry fully earns its keep and provides the reader with a new perspective.

Sadly, this anthology is not a stand-alone volume. Entries are provided without much context - no dates, reasons, or sources provided alongside most of them - so readers without the cultural input are likely to need both books if they want to know anything other than the surface value of the words. You can scrabble in the minuscule Acknowledgements list for sources, but this won't lift some of the extracts off the page. Although a ...


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