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Bibliographical Information
From Aberdare to Albacete - A Welsh International Brigader's Memoirs of his Life
Edwin Greening
ISBN: 9780954890483 (0954890485)Publication Date August 2006
Publisher: Warren & Pell Publishing, Pontypool
Format: Paperback, 219x149 mm, 160 pages Language: English Available from publishers only Our Price: £12.99   
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This book recounts the early life of the author, his experiences in the Spanish Civil War and World War Two and his career as a teacher after his return. Includes photographs and names of International Brigaders known by Edwin Greening.

Cyfrol sy'n olrhain hanes cynnar yr awdur, ei brofiadau yn Rhyfel Cartref Sbaen a'r Ail Ryfel Byd a'i yrfa fel athro ar ôl dychwelyd adref. Yn cynnwys lluniau ac enwau aelodau'r Frigâd Rynglwadol yr oedd Edwin Greening yn gyfarwydd â nhw.
Edwin Greening was born and brought up in Aberaman, Aberdare at a very particular period in the history of the valleys, the mining industry, and the international spread of communism and hatred of fascism. He was a natural writer and chronicler and kept copious notes and diaries throughout his life. This book includes his own written memoirs and extracts from his numerous diaries. It gives a vivid account of life in the Cynon Valley during the harsh days of the mid 20th century depression, his conversion to communism and his heroic decision to volunteer for the British Battalion of the International Brigades of the Spanish Republican Army to fight in the Civil War in Spain.

The first part of the book is a personal history of a boy with a keen, intelligent mind having to leave school to go down the mines, being pitched from mine to mine as mining faltered, struggling to educate himself in order to improve his prospects, becoming a communist and taking part in local politics. His family history and circumstances are recorded frankly and provide a vivid picture of life in that close Welsh community in the 1920s/30s.

The rest of the book records his enrolment in the Brigade in 1937 and his horrifying experiences fighting a losing battle in the hot, arid areas of the Ebro valley in Spain through most of 1938 until the International Brigades were withdrawn from Spain at the end of that year. He was careful to send reports back to the Aberdare Leader of all the terrible events he lived through. Many of his comrades, some from the Welsh valleys, died in front of him and he sent back a sympathetic account to their relatives. Because Edwin Greening was such a meticulous diarist the details of their day-to-day existence is recorded with an immediacy and detail that only those who actually experienced it could know.

Edwin Greening went on to fight in the Second World War and in 1948 achieved his ambition of qualifying as a teacher. He died at the age of 92 years in July 2003.

As a personal record of the Welsh valleys and the Spanish Civil War this book is of great historical significance, but it will also be of tremendous interest to anyone who enjoys reading biographies of people who lived eventful, unusual and full lives.

Beryl Thomas

It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgement should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.

Gellir defnyddio’r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatad Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.
Shan Willis from Porthcawl rated this title and wrote:
"The first chapters brought to life the reality of life in the valleys during the twenties and thirties for the ordinary working class families. Edwin also writes about the hardships, poverty and lack of opportunity, for those with intelligence and talent and describes the frustration that he and others felt about their circumstances. I enjoyed reading this book immensely and as a native of Aberdare I found it easy to relate to the people, places and events. I hope that others will enjoy this book as much as I did. "
 
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