The Year Before the Storm

Book - 2013
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An International Bestseller

"An absolute gem of a book." -- The Observer

Just before one of its darkest moments came the twentieth century's most exciting year . . .

It was the year Henry Ford first put a conveyer belt in his car factory, and the year Louis Armstrong first picked up a trumpet. It was the year Charlie Chaplin signed his first movie contract, and Coco Chanel and Prada opened their first dress shops. It was the year Proust began his opus, Stravinsky wrote  The Rite of Spring , and the first Armory Show in New York introduced the world to Picasso and the world of abstract art. It was the year the recreational drug now known as ecstasy was invented.

It was 1913, the year before the world plunged into the catastrophic darkness of World War I.

In a witty yet moving narrative that progresses month by month through the year, and is interspersed with numerous photos and documentary artifacts (such as Kafka's love letters), Florian Illies ignores the conventions of the stodgy tome so common in "one year" histories. Forefronting cultural matters as much as politics, he delivers a charming and riveting tale of a world full of hope and unlimited possibility, peopled with amazing characters and radical politics, bristling with new art and new technology . . . even as ominous storm clouds began to gather.
Publisher: Brooklyn, NY :, Melville House,, [2013]
ISBN: 9781612193519
Branch Call Number: 940.288 Illies 11/2013
Characteristics: 268 pages :,illustrations ;,23 cm


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Feb 07, 2020

As unusual in it's construction as fascinating as a broad canvas of the instant before 'the war to end all wars', 1913 is a gift to those who love history, art, politics and literature. Written with dry wit and a wonderful sense of irony it was a treat to read. I did use Wikipedia and other on-line sources to flash out art and historical characters. l thought l was familiar with most of them but discovered fabulous gems in the process.
Highly recommended

jacqui_a Mar 26, 2018

1913 is a methodical month-by-month march through the cultural world of Europe in the year before the first World War. Florian Illies adds entertaining and melodramatic context to the lives and works of European artists, writers, and royalty against a backdrop of growing political tension.

Aug 27, 2014


Fascinating details and layout of the book. Each month divided into factual events be they love or lament, painter or poet. The events are woven throughout, Characters I knew by name only, have become alive.


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