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.
What emerges is a rich and complex world, more familiar than we expect, connected as never before, on the threshold of events which would change the course of global history.
Long at the margins of global affairs, the Arctic now finds itself at the frontline of issues which will challenge and define our world in the twenty-first century: climate change, energy security and the struggle for the world's resources, the return of great power competition and the remaking of global trade patterns.
In The Future History of the Arctic, geopolitics expert Charles Emmerson weaves together the history of the region with reportage and reflection, revealing a vast and complex area, loaded with opportunity and rich in challenges. Travelling from the oil-fields of Prudhoe Bay and the Russian port of Murmansk to the shores of Greenland and the militarised borderlands of northern Norway, he brings the contemporary Arctic to life and explains why what happens there matters to the world.
Charles Emmerson has suffered from a life-long addiction to maps, geopolitics and the power of history to illuminate the future. Born in Australia, Charles grew up and was educated in London. After graduating top of his class from Oxford University in modern history, he was awarded an Entente Cordiale scholarship to study politics and law in Paris. Since then he has worked for a variety of international organisations focusing on global issues, including the International Crisis Group and, latterly, as Associate Director of the World Economic Forum and head of their Global Risks' team. He is the author of The Future History of the Arctic and 1913: The World Before the Great War. He now lives in London where he works as a writer and adviser on international affairs.