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1913: In Search of the World Before the Great Warby Charles Emmerson
Synopses & Reviews
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 Europes 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 worlds human geography. Steamships and sub-sea cables encircled the earth, along with new technologies and new ideas. Fords 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.
"Two decades into the 21st century what could possibly be left to say about the 20th? Emmerson, a fellow at the Royal Institute for International Affairs has reached back 100 years and found plenty. His engrossing book profiles world cities who will play pivotal roles in the century's narrative arc, from 'Old World' European powers through Asia's 'Twilight Powers'. This historical time is unique in being the moment the globe was finally completely discovered and claimed, as well as interconnected via telegraph wires, railway lines, and shipping routes, creating what has become the globalization we presently take for granted. Emmerson's best chapters lay foundations for the global issues on the horizon like race and diplomacy in America, and oil and religious differences in the Middle East; lesser-known personal and institutional stories laying the groundwork for enriched understandings of world events to come. By staying so tightly focused on this single year, Emmerson is able to reveal causal mechanisms while simultaneously making readers wonder what could have been. 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. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Today, we inevitably view 1913 through the lens of 1914: as the last year before a war that would shatter the global economic order and tear Europe apart. Yet hindsight can obscure as much—or more—than it reveals. In this illuminating history, Charles Emmerson liberates the world of 1913 from this prelude to war” narrative and explores it as it was.
Traveling from Europes capitals to Bombay, Tokyo, St. Petersburg, Winnipeg, Los Angeles, Peking, and beyond, Emmerson restores 1913 to contemporary freshness and illuminates a world more integrated and internationalized than we recall. A truly global economy had emerged for the first time, underpinned by the gold standard. New railroads, shipping routes, and cables made the world smaller. The first Model T-Ford drove off an assembly line. The Young Turks challenged the Ottoman Empire in Istanbul. Mass migration was fundamentally reshaping the globes human geography.
Full of fascinating characters, stories, and insights, 1913 brings a lost world vividly back to life, with provocative implications for how we understand history and ourselves.
About the Author
Charles Emmerson is currently senior research fellow at Chatham House—The Royal Institute for International Affairs—in London, England. He has been a global leadership fellow at the World Economic Forum, resident geopolitical specialist of the Global Risk Network, and a writer for the International Crisis Group. He is the author of The Future History of the Arctic.
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