CHARLES EMMERSON: 1913: The World Before the Great War

Charles Emmerson

5af Dihaoine 31 An Damhair
5pm Friday 31st October

1913-World-Before-the-Great-WarEclipsed by the Great War, 1913 is usually seen as little more than the prologue to apocalypse.  The world of that year reduced to its most frivolous features: last, lost summers in grand country houses set against the gathering darkness among the great European powers beyond the horizon.  Our images dominated by upper-class indulgence or the onrushing blackness of the abyss.

But what if the war had not happened? 1913: The World before the Great War proposes a radically different portrait of the first years of the twentieth century, returning the world then to its contemporary freshness, its future still open, its fate undecided.  Beyond Europe, 1913 was the year when Henry Ford’s production line cranked into action in Detroit, when China began to wake from centuries of imperial slumber, when Buenos Aires and Winnipeg were considered the bright metropolises of the future, when Japan had just established itself as a great power, when Tsarist Russia celebrated three hundred years of the Romanov dynasty – and an industrial boom.  What might have been, indeed.

Dynamic, modern, global: 1913: The World Before the Great War engages with the idea of the last year of European peace and of the high imperial age, as a year of encounters and interconnections, a year of possibility not predestination.

p01nr74yCharles Emmerson (born 1976) is an Australian historian.  He was born in Melbourne and grew up in London.  He studied Modern History at Oxford University, and postgraduate studies at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris.  He has worked for the International Crisis Group, the World Economic Forum, the Financial Times, and Chatham House, where he is currently a senior research fellow. He has also written the well-received book: The Future History of the Arctic (2010). Emmerson has also contributed to programmes on BBC Radio 3.


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