Strike! When Britain Went to War and “Ghost Dancers – The Miners’ Strike 1984-85” by David John Douglass. eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

NEW FILM: STRIKE! When Britain Went To War — The 1984-85 Miners’ Strike (click the Films link)

Ghost Dancers
Ghost Dancers (Kindle edition)

Also, announcing GHOST DANCERS, the final volume in Dave Douglass’s mining trilogy, Stardust and Coaldust, published to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the end of the miners’ strike. A first-person, insider’s view, of, probably, the last generation of miners and their union. Following on Cameron’s description of ‘a broken Britain’ this book comes close to describing who broke it and how.

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The definitive history of the great coal strike of 1984/85 and the background to it, this book explodes all the prevailing myths around that epic period, and corrects the inaccuracies in dozens of books previously penned by academics and journalists. Written by a participant at the sharp end of that struggle, it uniquely deals with the poststrike period, which hitherto no other writer has attempted to describe, nor any commentator understood. It portrays the efforts of the miners to stay in the ring and stay on their feet, in the run-up to the John Major assault in ’92/’93 and the last stand of the miners as a social force. The book reveals the harsh internal relations within the National Union of Mineworkers in the post-strike years, set against a backdrop and commentary on other world and domestic events like the Poll Tax, the Gulf War, and the Good Friday Agreement. Inevitably, it addresses the role of Arthur Scargill both during and after the strike — which in the author’s view displays two distinct and conflicting aspects of his leadership. However, Dave shows how the central role in both periods was that played by the miners themselves organised in their Union.  Dave has not sought to exclude those smaller, more personal aspects that intersect this trajectory and link the personal to the political, the major to the minor. Though it is not written in the style or with the pretensions of academic neutrality, this book will be an essential reference for any serious academic study in the future. The title of this work, Ghost Dancers, is inspired by the last stand of the Native American Indians in their efforts to retain their culture and dignity, and by the Durham Miners’ Gala as a mining equivalent of that same endeavour. The book records the last stand of the last generation of pitmen and their communities.

David Douglass is a long-standing and well-known  member of the National Union of Mineworkers in the Durham and Doncaster coalfields. He was a coalminer for 40-plus years and a branch official of the Union for 25 years, as well as a member of its Yorkshire Executive during its most testing and dynamic period. He remains a full member of the NUM and is still active in the internal affairs of the Union, as well as being one of its more public and well-known representatives and a published author and historian of the coal communities.

Ghost Dancers — The Miners’ Last GenerationDavid John Douglass (ISBN 978-1-873976-40-1) LOOK INSIDE

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Available from Central Books Ltd, 99 Wallis Road, London E9 5LN. Tel: 0845 4589911 Fax: 0845 4589912