MONMOUTHSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL, 1888-1974. Edited by G. Prior; written by G. P. Ambrose. Monmouthshire County Council, 1974. Pp. 222. This handsome volume is the official obituary of the Monmouthshire County Council, which expired on 1 April 1974 (All Fool's Day, its last chairman wryly remarks), when the historic county was dissolved in the new and enlarged area of Gwent. The author disarms criticism and stirs sympathy by revealing that it was compiled in about four months; as he observes, 'the wonder is, to quote Dr. Johnson, not that the volume is imperfect, but that it has appeared at all'. Scribbling against the clock, he has in fact produced a commendable piece of work. This is a clear and lively account of the way in which the modest administrative legacy which Quarter Sessions bequeathed to its successor in 1889 was rapidly expanded by the absorption of the ad hoc authorities for elementary education and poor relief and by the ever increasing burdens cast upon the county by the evolving Welfare State; with the result that, to take the simplest measure of growth, the County Council, which disposed of a revenue of E30,000 in its first year, was handling over £ 42 million in its last. The record is a proud one, particularly in more recent years. Once the gloom and restrictions of depression and war had lifted, the Council launched into a programme of social improvement which ranged it amongst the most forward-looking authorities in the country; and its work won notable praise from the Local Government Commission for Wales, whose report in 1962 paid tribute to the efficiency of the county's schools and health and welfare services. Inevitably, given the haste in which the book was written, the analysis does not cut very deep, and there are some very evident faults of omission, emphasis and proportion. Much remains to explore: the working of the committees, for example, in whose minutes and papers the real history of a County Council is to be read. Personalities do not emerge (even the most famous, Aneurin Bevan, rates only one incidental mention) since, in the Council's view, 'their achievements are the result of teamwork'; the clash of persons and parties, a necessary and surely not disreputable part of the decision-making process, thus passes in silence. The illustrations are numerous and splendidly reproduced; they are not always, however, well chosen or well presented. Some lack captions, such as the political cartoon on p. 53 which has no source, no date and no explanation; some have little or no specific connection with Monmouthshire, such as the full-page pictures of troops and trenches in Flanders during the 1914-18 war. More than a third of the text and illustrations deals with the years since 1962. It is understandable that the outgoing councillors should show pride in recent achievements, the new schools and colleges, the libraries and health clinics, the police and fire stations, the roads and bridges, with which the county has been endowed under their rule; but this necessarily is at the cost of a foreshortening of perspective which distorts the historical picture. The historian, therefore, in welcoming this addition to our all too few studies of modern county government, must hope for the fulfilment of the chairman's wish that it 'may serve as a signpost to more thorough and time consuming research', and that the Monmouthshire