1913: The World before the Great War Paperback – 6 Feb 2014
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
"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)
"If Downton Abbey still colours your impression of what Britain was like on the cusp of the First World War, 1913 could be a useful corrective" (David Robinson Scotsman)
"One of the great merits of Charles Emmerson’s global panorama is to show events in the months leading up to the summer of 1914 as something other than a precursor to mass slaughter" (Mark Damazer New Statesman)
A portrait of a world on the precipice of war – and the brink of globalisation.See all Product description
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Top customer reviews
The build up to WWI has often framed purely in terms of rising nationalism and xenophobia across Europe, the truth however is more complex as the book extensibely explores. Middle-class Europeans often traveled and mixed around Europe with ease, as Emmerson points out there were 100,000 Germans living in London alone in 1913, European monarchies were also often closely related. On the day Austria declared war on Serbia many key figures on both sides found themselves on the wrong side of the frontier. The book is a wonderful window into the past and the issues which troubled domestically at the time, often involving women's suffrage, workers rights, empire and trade. Europe was very much the centre of the world at the time, artistically, culturally, financially and militarily, the USA, Russia, China were not yet the superpowers they later became. This one continent controlled much of Africa and the Middle East and the amount of trade backwards and forwards was staggering. Emmerson also does a fine job balancing the presentation of first hand sources with analysis and also balancing facts and figures with individual sentiments and impressions of the time.
Paris is next, Emmerson focusses mostly on negative matieral about the decline of Paris in many observers eyes, fitting this into a wider pessimism about the future of France in a country with failling birth rates and a powerful new neighbour on it's doorstep. French art is also dicussed at some length.
Berlin is potrayed as a city of paradoxes, a representation then of the Kaiser himself in that sense. Prusian militarism is every in the background.
Rome while dismissed by many at the time as simply a city of beauty and history is revealed to be a centre of Italian ambition for a greater modern Italy. The movement of futurism is also explored.
Vienna next is described while focusing more on the wider contradictions and problems plaguing the Austrio-Hungarian Empire. To many it's very existence is seen as a mystery given it's ethnic and linguistic mixtures.
Other favourite chapters for me were New York, Detroit, Algiers, Mexico City and Shanghi.
Don't buy this book expecting a detailed analysis of the factors leading up to the Great War, instead think of it as a collection of impressions of the world as it stood in 1913. I thought some of it was a bit disjointed though and it's hard to do justice to a country's culture and political problems on just 10-15 pages. All in all though a good effort and an interesting read.
However, I lost interest very quickly, and very unusually for me, only got about a quarter of the way through. I can't quite put my finger on what put me off, but it just did not grab me at all. The descriptions and evidence used were fine, most seemed relevant, but the whole just didn't hang together, and I began to ask myself what the point of the book was. Once I asked myself that question, all was lost!
Well yes, and the newness here is in the approach taken: not a broad canvas but rather a collection of almost two dozen linked sketches. What the author does is tell us about key capital and major cities throughout the world, what they were like in 1913, the lives and hopes of the people living in them, the nature and activities of those governing them, where they seemed to fit into the order of things. And he does it very well. The research has been thorough and the information is there and in some detail, but it never threatens to overpower the reader or to make things dull. The style is very readable and there is a lightness of touch and an ability to take you to a place and immerse you in it. We get enough by way of regional overview and linking themes to stop the collection feeling disjointed but the cities are the main characters.
The combination of novel approach and readability make this a great read and also a very informative one. I certainly recommend it.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews