history and politics

October 2019

224pp (+16pp photo section)





Government and Disaster
(Revised & updated second edition)

Iain McLean & Martin Johnes

The full truth about Aberfan
The Guardian

The research is outstanding...the investigation is substantial, balanced and authoritative...this is certainly the definitive book on the subject...Meticulous
John R. Davis, Kingston University
. 'Contemporary British History' 2002

Excellent...thorough and sympathetic...well worth the money spent on it
Headway 2000 (Aberfan's Community Newspaper)

Intelligent and moving

‘Definitive...authoritative...anyone who wants to understand the process of government and its obsession with secrecy should read this book.’
Ron Davies, Secretary of State for Wales 1997-1998



The tragic events at Aberfan on the morning of October 21 1966, when 116 children and 28 adults died in a sea of slurry following the collapse of a coal tip from the mountain above the mining village, will forever be etched in the memories of the people of the industrial valleys of south Wales.


Aberfan - Government & Disaster is widely recognised as the definitive study of the disaster and, following meticulous research of previously unavailable public records - kept confidential by the UK Government’s 30-year rule - the authors explain how and why the disaster happened and why nobody was held responsible.


Iain McLean and Martin Johnes reveal how the National Coal Board, civil servants, and ministers in the Labour Government of Harold Wilson including the Secretary of State for Wales, George Thomas, who should have protected the public interest, and specifically the interests of the people of Aberfan, failed to do so. The authors also consider what has been learned or ignored from Aberfan such as the understanding of  psychological trauma and the law concerning ‘corporate manslaughter’.


Aberfan - Government & Disaster is the revised and updated second edition of Iain McLean and Martin Johnes’ acclaimed study published in 2000, which now solely focuses on Aberfan.

Iain McLean is Professor of Politics at the University of Oxford and Official Fellow in Politics at Nuffield College, Oxford. 
Martin Johnes is a Reader in History at the University of Swansea.