The Book Worm: Review: 1913 The World before the Great War

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Review: 1913 The World before the Great War

Book Review: 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.

Genre: non-fiction

Publication date: April 2013

Mature content: none

Review:  There's a world of information in this book. It's an amazing report of the life, the politics, the good and the bad of people and countries at the beginning of the twentieth century. Even though I had a general knowledge about that era, I still learned a lot while reading the book. It is amazing to see how the world was so different just a little over a hundred years ago, how much we have evolved since then - and yet, at the same time, how some of the social and political problems at that time are still unsolved today.

I admire and congratulate the author for the extensive research needed to weave such a detailed description of the world in 1913. My only concern is that there are so many details put together that the book becomes a bit too academical and harder to follow. It is true the book is well organized by the main cities of the time, but it's still very long (my paperback version has 528 pages) and not easy to read in some places. 

Still, I'm of the opinion that history is never boring and brings us many useful lessons and, as such, 1913: The World before the Great War by Charles Emmerson (2013-04-25) still gets a solid four stars rating from me.

Happy Thursday, 

the book worm, book blog


  1. That's my kind of reading material! You're right. Writers of nonfiction often get so much information to give us that it becomes more academic than the average person can read. Those are the books that end up taking me months to read. I love the subject material though.

    1. Then you will love this book, even if it takes a bit longer to read. Thank you for stopping by!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...