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Publisher's Summary

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 Europe’s 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 world’s human geography. Steamships and sub-sea cables encircled the earth, along with new technologies and new ideas. Ford’s 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.
©2013 Published in Great Britain by The Bodley Head. Published in the United States by PublicAffairs, a Member of the Perseus Books Group (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By GANESHi on 08-02-13

Good book ruined by bad read

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

This is a pretty good book that does what it says it will do: Sets out portraits of the worlds countries at the time as they represented themselves and as they actually behaved. But the audio presentation is ruined by a reader and/or producer who has no idea how to pronounce the terms used or the names of people or places.
For example, the French centime is pronounced SAHN-teem, not SENT-time; a "row", as in tussle, sounds like, "Ow! You hit me", not Row, like your boat gently down the stream; Camille Saint-Saens is san-SOHNS, not sant sigh-ENS.
Simple words were mispronounced, like saying "pro-TESTS in the streets", instead of, "PRO-tests in the streets." Granted, the Qing Dynasty is not commonly known to be pronounced CHING Dynasty, but in the age of the internet wouldn't it behoove producers of audiobooks to check these things out? It's certainly not KWING Dynasty, as pronounced in this book; there's no "u".
My enjoyment of this book was ruined by cringing every few minutes at the continued, flagrant disregard for the listener's intelligence as regards simple knowledge of the proper pronunciations. But what can one expect when the makers of the product are ignorant themselves?

How could the performance have been better?

How hard can it be to simply check these things before recording? Otherwise, the reader did a serviceable job, his voice reminding me of the excellent Scott Brick.

Did 1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War inspire you to do anything?

This is the first time I have ever been inspired to write a review for an audiobook. Too bad it's because of the poor quality of its production.

Any additional comments?

I know the current trend is to eliminate the engineer and producer/director, and have the voice actor record and edit themselves without oversight, but if this is a product of this kind of system perhaps it should be reconsidered, and preferably abandoned.
Quality work needs the input of professionals of specific disciplines. Let the engineers record, the directors direct, the producers produce, and the actors act.
If this sort of shoddy product is the result of cheap budgets why do them in the first place?

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11 of 11 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Ballika on 06-16-13

Practice, Please!

Any additional comments?

The narration was very distracting...Foreign terms and names were mangled badly. Unfortunately, the scope of the book covered several nations and different tongues. It would be a good idea to practice or get some coaching prior to recording!

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Delighted, Tunbridge Wells on 07-21-13

A fascinating book, rather let down by the reader

What did you like best about 1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War? What did you like least?

An excellent tour d'horizon before WW1

Who was your favorite character and why?


Would you be willing to try another one of Kevin Stillwell’s performances?

Certainly not. His lack of familiarity with basic foreign names and foreign terms commonly used in English is embarrassing and makes the reading uncomfortable at times.

Any additional comments?

It's a high quality book. It would have much better with a different reader

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Mary on 08-22-14

Fresh, broader perspective on the era before WW1

Would you consider the audio edition of 1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War to be better than the print version?

Don't know, but I will definitley buy the book.

What did you like best about this story?

The new insights into the pre-Great War world, drawn from around the world, not just the major powers. For instance, the chapters on Mexico and Argentina filled huge gaps in my knowledge and would probably only be otherwise available in the kind of specialist tomes that I never pick-up. It's brilliantly researched, providing glimpses of the real lives behind the history and really well written with clarity and purpose, presenting the complexities of geo-politics in a highly digestible style.

Would you be willing to try another one of Kevin Stillwell’s performances?

I would have given Kevin 5 stars were it not for his incessant mangling of foreign names, which often detracted from the serious tone or even comprehension of the piece. However, I consider the blame to lie not with the performer but with the editor who failed to select someone with some small familiarity with the French, German, Italian languages particularly. (I think Kevin was more familiar with Spanish). I would secondly criticise the ediorial process for not editing out the worst howlers (including in English e.g. 'quayside' pronounced 'kwayside'). After all, these books cost enough and I think both the reader and the author have the right to expect them to be performed to the standard of the printed work.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

A truly global perspective on a global conflict.

Any additional comments?

Yes. I'd like to know what Charles Emerson, the author, has to say about this performance.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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