Synopses & Reviews
A thrilling history of the rise of anarchism, told through the stories of a number of prominent revolutionaries and the agents of the secret police who pursued them.
In the late nineteenth century, nations the world over were mired in economic recession and beset by social unrest, their leaders increasingly threatened by acts of terrorism and assassination from anarchist extremists. In this riveting history of that tumultuous period, Alex Butterworth follows the rise of these revolutionaries from the failed Paris Commune of 1871 to the 1905 Russian Revolution and beyond. Through the interwoven stories of several key anarchists and the secret police who tracked and manipulated them, Butterworth explores how the anarchists were led to increasingly desperate acts of terrorism and murder.
Rich in anecdote and with a fascinating array of supporting characters, The World That Never Was is a masterly exploration of the strange twists and turns of history, taking readers on a journey that spans five continents, from the capitals of Europe to a South Pacific penal colony to the heartland of America. It tells the story of a generation that saw its utopian dreams crumble into dangerous desperation and offers a revelatory portrait of an era with uncanny echoes of our own.
"Historian Butterworth (Pompeii: The Living City) makes a first-rate addition to the growing list of books dealing with terrorism's origins and history. His focus is the alienated young men and women who, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, turned to anarchist and nihilist terrorism. This gripping and unsettling account depicts the movement's rise from the failed Paris Commune of 1871 through the abortive 1905 Russian revolution and its decline into the 1930s. Alternating among Russia, Europe, and America, the author produces a narrative packed with colorful figures, plots, assassinations, and bombings, betrayals, persecution, heroism, and martyrdom. Despite inflicting great damage (including assassinating a czar, an American president, and many European leaders), it failed. Successful attacks produced only more oppression. However, the first 'war on terror' also failed. Police wreaked havoc among plotters (and many innocents), but the terror declined only after WWI, when rising communism and fascism attracted a new generation of disaffected idealists. Delivering a virtuoso performance, Butterworth adds the hope that history will not repeat itself and that a successful new bloody ideology will not create the next scourge. 8 pages of b&w illus." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In this thrilling history of the rise of anarchism, historian Butterworth follows the rise of violent revolutionaries from the failed Paris Commune of 1871 to the 1905 Russian Revolution.
About the Author
ALEX BUTTERWORTH is a historian and dramatist whose first book, Pompeii: The Living City, won the Longman-History Today New Generation Book of the Year Award in 2006. He lives in Oxford, England.