Planet 234

Martin Johnes reviews
The Welsh Extremist by Ned Thomas

by Ned Thomas

Victor Gollancz, (out of print)

The Welsh Extremist was first published in 1971. It opened with a bland statement that belied the emotion and effect of what followed: ‘This book is about the pressures on the Welsh language community, the responses to those pressures, and the record of what is happening to us as it can be found in the best modern Welsh literature.’

Thomas intended the book for an English readership, wanting to explain to them the conviction and psychology of the Welsh national movement. This was the time of Plaid Cymru’s first parliamentary gains, of vandalising roadsigns and serving time for language rights, of bombs and a pseudo political army, of lives lost and a small boy maimed. Thomas wanted to ensure that such things were not simply condemned as extremism but understood as part of the international struggles of marginalised groups. He did not condone the violence, but he understood its roots and cause and wanted to explain this to others. For him, violence was the last resort of a culture staring its extinction in the face.

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