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New Release: The World That Never Was

51FPcZd2aUL._SL160_By Alex Butterworth
Pantheon | 528pgs
Release Date: June 15, 2010

Summary:
Historian Alex Butterworth studies the years spanning the late 19th and early 20th centuries when unstable global economies and social upheavals turned some young people into anarchist terrorists, in The World That Never Was: A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists, and Secret Agents. The intense, captivating narrative follows the anarchist movement from its beginnings in a struggling Paris Commune in 1871, to the bloody Russian Revolution in 1905, and finally to the movement’s decline in the 1930′s. The story line moves between, Europe, Russia and the U.S. and prominent anarchist leaders such as Kropotkin, Rochefort, and Bakunin, are discussed. As the disenchanted social idealists resort to increasingly violent acts of terrorism in pursuit of a utopian way of life, governments react by creating secret police forces to investigate and prosecute the anarchists. Drawing parallels with today’s turbulent political landscape, Butterworth offers this history as a cautionary tale in hopes that new generations will not repeat the bloody mistakes of the past.

What critics are saying:
The World That Never Was is Butterworth’s second book. His previous book, the critically acclaimed Pompeii: The Living City was the 2006 winner of the Longman-History Today New Generation Book of the Year Award. Critics have lauded the author’s sophomore endeavor, complimenting his riveting storytelling and adept handling of his subject matter. Peter Preston of The Observer remarks, “Alex Butterworth writes lucidly, in fine detail, seeking answers that must sometimes prove elusive . . . He has to try to separate the bad from the true believers, to put the terror of decades into a frame of understanding that even those in the thick of it couldn’t always discern. He can’t escape the resonances of our post-9/11 world, but he has to set the reader free to think for himself. It’s a formidable task, formidably (and entertainingly) accomplished.”

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