We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
Call anytime(888) 283-5051
 >   > 
1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War | [Charles Emerson]

1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War

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.
Regular Price:$29.95
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

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.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (39 )
5 star
 (9)
4 star
 (14)
3 star
 (11)
2 star
 (3)
1 star
 (2)
Overall
3.8 (35 )
5 star
 (12)
4 star
 (10)
3 star
 (8)
2 star
 (4)
1 star
 (1)
Story
3.4 (35 )
5 star
 (11)
4 star
 (7)
3 star
 (7)
2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (5)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    GANESHi El Cerrito, CA, United States 08-02-13
    GANESHi El Cerrito, CA, United States 08-02-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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?

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Monticello, WI, United States 06-16-13
    Karen Monticello, WI, United States 06-16-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    61
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joshua New York, NY, United States 08-31-13
    Joshua New York, NY, United States 08-31-13 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well written, *very* poorly read"
    What didn’t you like about Kevin Stillwell’s performance?

    Stillwell's voice is actually pleasantly neutral. Neutrality is not a bad quality: while an unsuitable or irritating voice can ruin an audiobook, only the rarest readings are memorably outstanding; simply not noticing the voice is the mark of a workmanlike reading, competent and unintrusive. Stillwell's performance is solid on this matter.

    However - and this is a very big qualification - as other reviewers have pointed out, Stillwell's pronunciation of even the commonest foreign words or names - or sometimes even of fairly common English words like "quay" - is abysmal. The pronunciation is occasionally confusing ("Does he mean ...?"), but more often just jarring; I know what he means, but constantly find myself audibly correcting him, over and over. Because the text deliberately jumps from locale to locale, the listener can't even overcome the mispronunciations by becoming used to them, as every chapter brings the text to a new place where Stillwell will find a whole new crop of words to mangle.

    This completely undermines the admirable neutrality of his voice, by constantly intruding on the listener, dragging him out of the story and into a pedantic confrontation with the narrator. What's worse is how easily this could have been corrected: one particular howler was Stillwell's failed attempt to pronounce the surname of the French writer André Gide, which Stillwell pronounces as if it were "guide." Gide, a Nobel Prize winner, is hardly so obscure that the correct pronunciation would have been difficult for Stillwell to find; a Google search gives it immediately.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Andrews Schlemmer Ohio 12-16-13 Member Since 2005

    carolina inthemorning

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    28
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "fascinating history, embarrassingly bad reader"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I would recommend only the print version. Kevin Stillwell's mispronunciations make me wince. How can he have been hired to read 67 books?!!!!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of 1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War?

    I keep listening to understand what London, Shanghai, Cairo, and other world capitals really FELT like before World War 1. The research is wide, including contemporary newspapers, diaries, guidebooks, music, and political tracts.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Kevin Stillwell?

    Someone fluent in English. And acquainted with German, Chinese, and other languages' pronunciations.


    Do you think 1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    Probably not. The content is thorough and satisfying as it is.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Doerr CA USA 10-31-13
    K. Doerr CA USA 10-31-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    30
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great idea, not well executed"

    The idea of a world survey of 1913 was great, but there is no strong theoretical thread, nor narrative thread in this work. It seems like a series of postcards, but the postcards aren't those funny or interesting ones we liked to get (back when people actually sent postcards), but are instead those common cards that show the 'important' buildings, or the local celebrities.

    Stillwell has a great voice, but his mispronunciations become more and more distracting.

    I would have liked skimming through this book in a paper or electronic version. It doesn't have enough continuity to sustain a lengthy listen.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A music lover Alexandria, VA USA 10-23-13
    A music lover Alexandria, VA USA 10-23-13 Member Since 2007

    in Alexandria

    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    281
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Listener's experience hurt by subpar reader"

    While I'm certain Mr. Stillwell is a perfectly acceptable reader for many books--specifically, ones requiring an American accent--he was a poor choice as narrator of this volume. "1913" describes the mood, highlights, lowlights, popular longings, political and intellectual atmosphere, and foreign and defense policy outlooks of Big Power and Lesser Power capital cities immediately before World War I. It is reasonably interesting, though a bit shallow as intellectual history.

    The fact that the book surveys so many national capitals--Berlin, Paris, Vienna, Rome, St. Petersburg, among others--means that it would be a real advantage if the reader knew how to pronounce words and names in the languages of those cities. It is unreasonable to expect perfect pronunciation, but a game attempt based on some coaching from a trained linguist certainly would help. Instead, Mr. Stillwell thought plowing ahead with an unaided American accent would work just fine. It doesn't. People with a smattering of French or German will cringe every time the narrator attempts to render straightforward words in those languages. The author of the book is trying to strike a sophisticated pose with his wide learning and cultured asides. The effect is completely ruined when the narrator mispronounces the name of a well-known writer, politician, intellectual, or the best-known street in a world-famous city.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George Washington, DC, United States 09-19-13
    George Washington, DC, United States 09-19-13 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Ghastly reader"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The book is beautifully written and fascinatingly conceived.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    His inability to pronounce common names and phrases correctly, again and again, ultimately insulting at least five languages before I gave up in despair, combined with his utterly bland and colorless delivery.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charlotte E. Cyphers Wayne, NJ 10-01-14
    Charlotte E. Cyphers Wayne, NJ 10-01-14 Member Since 2013

    GrannyGlasses

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    14
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Understanding for today"

    This was a great background to the why and who is/are of the current conflicts. It provides logic and compassion for generations of people who have are struggled with the modern age. And continue to struggle to to break free of the old ways.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Lieberman Shelburne Falls, MA United States 04-13-14
    Daniel Lieberman Shelburne Falls, MA United States 04-13-14 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good book marred by poor reading."
    What did you like best about 1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War? What did you like least?

    Interesting survey of the world on the eve of the First World War. Rich in detail about the political, economic, and cultural life of the great cities of the world in 1913.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of 1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War?

    The account of Woodrow Wilson's shameful refusal to do anything about institutional racism in the United States federal government.


    What didn’t you like about Kevin Stillwell’s performance?

    His narration includes dozens of egregious errors in the pronunciation of French, German, Italian, and Russian words. This really should have been better edited.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Austin, TX, United States 08-19-13
    John Austin, TX, United States 08-19-13 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    66
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    36
    18
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    5
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Comprehensive and very Informative"

    This overview of the world on the edge of war is a wonderful narrative history. It doesn't keep playing the irony card with observations on how little people knew about what was coming. Instead, it takes a deep snapshot of a remarkably varied set of nations and gives us an honest account of what was going on with them that contributed--or not as the case may be--to the war that followed. I found the chapter on Japan in 1913 especially helpful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 10 results
Sort by:
  • Peter
    london, United Kingdom
    7/21/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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?

    N/a


    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

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Frank
    9/21/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great work"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Its attention to detail and the range of places it covered. Not just the standard Paris-London-Berlin, but also Melbourne, Winnipeg, Tehran, Buenos Aires, Detroit and so forth. The author had interesting things to say about all of them with almost no repetition of information.


    Which character – as performed by Kevin Stillwell – was your favourite?

    not applicable for this book, but I particularly liked the Winnipeg, Buenos Aires and Tehran chapters.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm not a pronunciation snob, but the narrator's mispronunciation of foreign words, especially the French ones could be genuinely distracting... as in I-have-no-idea-what-word-that-guy-just-said distracting. But, small point, he did a very good job overall.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mary
    Radnage, United Kingdom
    8/22/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Geoffrey Cockayne
    Walsall, UK
    8/12/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Shockingly bad pronunciation"
    Would you try another book written by Charles Emerson or narrated by Kevin Stillwell?

    The author probably but the narrator never.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The focus on a single year without seeing it as a necessary prelude to WWI.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The narrator is utterly incapable of pronouncing any foreign word, to the extent of making the whole performance a joke. There is also rather too much upward intonation in normal sentences, ok in soap operas but not historical narrative.


    Any additional comments?

    The bad pronunciation went from infuriation to humour. Is the narrator aware, I wonder, that there are such languages as French and German?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Henry
    8/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "FASCINATING BUT BADLY FLAWED BY POOR NARRATION"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    The idea of describing the world on the eve of the greatest catastrophe of the First World War is well thought out with fascinating vignettes of a wide range of the worlds' cities.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of 1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War?

    For me the most memorable moment was the description of the relationship between China and the other Powers in the years after the Boxer Rebellion.


    What didn’t you like about Kevin Stillwell’s performance?

    Stillwell's performance ruined the experience for me. His monotonous voice coupled with his complete inability to pronounce important words in the text (as an example Quay pronounced Kay instead of Key). In particular his mutilation of most German and French names drove me to distraction. Only fascination with the topic kept me going to the end.


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

    Stillwell's perfomance inspired me to write my first ever book review.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-5 of 5 results

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.