Today, 1913 is inevitably viewed through the lens of 1914: as the last year before a war that would shatter the global economic order and tear Europe apart, undermining its global pre-eminence. Our perspectives narrowed by hindsight, the world of that year is reduced to its most frivolous features last summers in grand aristocratic residences or its most destructive ones: the unresolved rivalries of the great European powers, the fear of revolution, violence in the Balkans.
In this illuminating history, Charles Emmerson liberates the world of 1913 from this prelude to war” narrative, and explores it as it was, in all its richness and complexity. Traveling from Europe’s capitals, then at the height of their global reach, to the emerging metropolises of Canada and the United States, the imperial cities of Asia and Africa, and the boomtowns of Australia and South America, he provides a panoramic view of a world crackling with possibilities, its future still undecided, its outlook still open.
The world in 1913 was more modern than we remember, more similar to our own times than we expect, more globalized than ever before. The Gold Standard underpinned global flows of goods and money, while mass migration reshaped the world’s human geography. Steamships and sub-sea cables encircled the earth, along with new technologies and new ideas. Ford’s first assembly line cranked to life in 1913 in Detroit. The Woolworth Building went up in New York. While Mexico was in the midst of bloody revolution, Winnipeg and Buenos Aires boomed. An era of petro-geopolitics opened in Iran. China appeared to be awaking from its imperial slumber. Paris celebrated itself as the city of light, Berlin as the city of electricity.
Full of fascinating characters, stories, and insights, 1913: In Search of the World before the Great War brings a lost world vividly back to life, with provocative implications for how we understand our past and how we think about our future.
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A fascinating book, rather let down by the reader
An excellent tour d'horizon before WW1
Certainly not. His lack of familiarity with basic foreign names and foreign terms commonly used in English is embarrassing and makes the reading uncomfortable at times.
It's a high quality book. It would have much better with a different reader
- Delighted, Tunbridge Wells
Fresh, broader perspective on the era before WW1
Don't know, but I will definitley buy the book.
The new insights into the pre-Great War world, drawn from around the world, not just the major powers. For instance, the chapters on Mexico and Argentina filled huge gaps in my knowledge and would probably only be otherwise available in the kind of specialist tomes that I never pick-up. It's brilliantly researched, providing glimpses of the real lives behind the history and really well written with clarity and purpose, presenting the complexities of geo-politics in a highly digestible style.
I would have given Kevin 5 stars were it not for his incessant mangling of foreign names, which often detracted from the serious tone or even comprehension of the piece. However, I consider the blame to lie not with the performer but with the editor who failed to select someone with some small familiarity with the French, German, Italian languages particularly. (I think Kevin was more familiar with Spanish). I would secondly criticise the ediorial process for not editing out the worst howlers (including in English e.g. 'quayside' pronounced 'kwayside'). After all, these books cost enough and I think both the reader and the author have the right to expect them to be performed to the standard of the printed work.
A truly global perspective on a global conflict.
Yes. I'd like to know what Charles Emerson, the author, has to say about this performance.