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1913 The World Before the Great War by Charles Emmerson

1913 The World Before the Great War

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Charles Emmerson gives us a tour of the great cities of the world in the fatal year, 1913. Not that anyone saw it as an end, the world was changing, for the good it was thought, new technologies, new inventions, political change – the old order making way for the new. Charles Emmerson gives us a view of what was happening, how the world seemed to its population as it stood on the brink of a war that very few predicted it’s a dazzling history that skilfully blends contemporary sources with modern analysis.

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1913 The World Before the Great War by Charles Emmerson

Forever in the shadow of the war which followed, 1913 is usually seen as little more than the antechamber to apocalypse. Our perspectives narrowed by hindsight, the world of that year is reduced to its most frivolous features - last summers in grand aristocratic residences, a flurry of extravagant social engagements - or its most destructive ones: the unresolved rivalries of the great European powers, the anxieties of a period of accelerated change, the social fear of revolution, the violence in the Balkans. Our images of the times are too often dominated by the faded pastels of upper-class indulgence or by the unmitigated blackness of a world rushing headlong into the abyss of an inevitable war. 1913: The World before the Great War proposes a strikingly different portrait, returning the world in that year to its contemporary freshness, its future still undecided, its outlook still open. Told through the stories of twenty-three cities - Europe's capitals at the height of their global reach, the emerging metropolises of America, the imperial cities of Asia and Africa, the boomtowns of Australia and the Americas - Charles Emmerson presents a panoramic view of a world crackling with possibilities, from St Petersburg to Shanghai and from Los Angeles to Jerusalem. What emerges is a rich and complex world, more familiar than we expect, connected as never before, on the threshold of events which would change the course of global history.


'Majestic and cliche-defying' -- Sheena McDonald Herald

'Presents the true nature of the time, poised in hope' - Discover Britain

'Every so often a book comes along that simply must be read. 1913 is such a work. Luminous and majestic, rich in detail and stunning in its depth of research, 1913 is a sweeping and haunting portrait of the world on the edge of the precipice. Read this book, but be prepared to stifle at the end of every page an urge to scream out a warning to those long since dead that they must take another road' -- Wade Davis

'Charles Emmerson explores an endlessly interesting question: How did the great glossy world of the European Empires come to grief in 1914? This is a most elegantly written book and should stand comparison with the much older classic, Barbara Tuchman's The Proud Tower' -- PROFESSOR NORMAN STONE, author of World War One: A Short History

'A masterful, comprehensive portrait of the world at that last moment in its history.' -- David Crane Spectator

About the 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 (2010), he writes and speaks widely on international affairs. He is a Senior Research Fellow at Chatham House (the Royal Institute for International Affairs).

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Book Info

Publication date

15th November 2013


Charles Emmerson

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Vintage an imprint of Vintage Publishing


544 pages


World War One Literature
eBook Favourites

20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000



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