1913 by Charles Emmerson
In Search of the World Before the Great War

75%

6 Critic Reviews

Charles Emmerson captures all the world's hope and excitement as it experienced an economic El Dorado. "1913" is history without hindsight at its best.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

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.
 

About Charles Emmerson

See more books from this Author
Charles Emmerson was born in Australia and grew up in London. After graduating top of his class in modern history from Oxford University, he took up an Entente Cordiale scholarship to study international relations and international public law in Paris. The author of The Future History of the Arctic, he writes and speaks widely on international affairs. He is a senior research fellow at Chatham House (the Royal Institute for International Affairs).
 
Published May 7, 2013 by PublicAffairs. 546 pages
Genres: History, War. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for 1913
All: 6 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 1

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Anthony Sattin on Feb 09 2014

To capture a year of the world in a single snapshot is, of course, impossible, but Emmerson provides a real sense of 1913 by combining details of individual lives with sweeping international trends: one of the great pleasures of this book is to see parallels between then and now.

Read Full Review of 1913: In Search of the World ... | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Kathryn Hughes on May 08 2013

Throughout this ambitious, subtle account, Emmerson tries hard not to play the hindsight game. Still, he's honest enough to acknowledge the cheap pleasure that comes from knowing what happens next.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Ian Thomson on Apr 27 2013

Emmerson, a historian at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, often loses sight of the broader picture.

Read Full Review of 1913: In Search of the World ... | See more reviews from Guardian

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Jun 03 2013

No reader will leave this work without ever again looking at current events as clues, a living history of powers to come and go with all the possible advancements and catastrophes that will follow.

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WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by Mark Archer on Jun 14 2013

Charles Emmerson captures all the world's hope and excitement as it experienced an economic El Dorado. "1913" is history without hindsight at its best.

Read Full Review of 1913: In Search of the World ... | See more reviews from WSJ online

The Economist

Good
on Jun 08 2013

This is no modest undertaking. Mr Emmerson draws from a wide range of sources, including memoirs, billboards and newspapers, to recreate a year that was fairly uneventful.

Read Full Review of 1913: In Search of the World ... | See more reviews from The Economist

Reader Rating for 1913
80%

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