The last years of the nineteenth century saw the birth of a new phenomenon: international terrorism. Bombings and assassinations shook the great cities of Europe and America, threatening social order. Fiendish networks of anarchist conspiritors were blamed and the public whipped into a frenzy of anxiety.
The reality was rather different. These dramatic events were only the most visible part of a longer, clandestine struggle waged between the forces of revolution and reaction, in which little was as it seemed. Alex Butterworth interweaves group biography, cultural history and meticulous detective work to create a revelatory account of the age. Both intimate and panoramic, it is a story with uncanny resonances for today.
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Exhilarating...almost any paragraph packs more action than an entire Dan Brown novel - Financial Times
Butterworth has created an impressive work which will captivate those unfamiliar with anarchist history and teach even specialists much that they did not know before - Independent
Compelling and insightful... The World That Never Was is a compelling narrative history both of a generation of demonised and battered - but optimistic - revolutionaries...and of the political police forces ranged against them - Guardian
A rich and passionate account of the world's first international terrorist campaign... Brilliant... A thrilling and important book - Sunday Times
One of the most absorbing depictions of the dark underside of radical politics in many years...a riveting account, teeming with intrigue and adventure and packed with the most astonishing characters - New Statesman
This is an amazing book full of incredible people all of whom turn out to be real and unbelievable stories, all of which turn out be true... A genuine tour de force -
Intriguing, provocative and written with a novelist's eye for detail, this book is an engrossing journey into a murky, subterranean world - BBC History Magazine
One of the most absorbing depictions of the dark underside of radical politics in many years... Butterworth has opted to present the anarchists in a mode that emphasises narrative over analysis. The result is a riveting account, teeming with intrigue and adventure and packed with the most astonishing characters. One cannot help wishing there were more extended analysis, however, for when Butterworth does offer broader observations, they are exceptionally astute. - New Statesman
Alex Butterworth, in this wide-ranging account of 19th-century anarchist activity, does justice to both sides of the picture - the glowing ideal, its shady enactment - Daily Telegraph
Sweeping, extensively researched - Express
Butterworth writes lucidly, in fine detail - Observer
This is an exhilarating gallop through the history of anarchism - Financial Times
Historian Butterworth makes a first-rate addition to the growing list of books dealing with terrorism's origins and history... Delivering a virtuoso performance, Butterworth adds the hope that history will not repeat itself and that a successful new bloody ideology will not create the next scourge - Publisher's Weekly
This is entertaining stuff - Sunday Times, Christmas Round Up
Butterworth's fascination with his subject drips from the page...this is entertaining stuff - Sunday Times
An astounding story of bitter civil warfare that raged across many countries for decades. Butterworth's passionate account of the anarchist movements born in the late 19th century describes a conflict that spawned its own 'war on terror' - Guardian
About the Author
Born in 1969, Alex Butterworth is an historian, writer and dramatist whose first book Pompeii: The Living City won the Longmans-History Today New Generation Book of the Year. He lives in Oxford.