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  • Published: 5 September 2019
  • ISBN: 9781473545212
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 752


The Long End of the Great War and the Birth of a New World, 1917-1924

A brilliant work of narrative history with an international cast of characters that captures this definitive period after the close of the Great War.

What comes first: the character of the times, or the characters who give it theirs?

Crucible charts the trajectories of the characters who fell from power in the bloody breakdown of Europe’s old order between 1917 and 1924, and those who for whom the restless chaos marked the beginning of an unlikely rise to fame.

Year by year, we follow Kaiser Wilhelm into his wood-chopping Dutch exile, and Lenin from his Swiss library-desk to his muddled end as an invalid in revolutionary Russia gone stale. Ernest Hemingway criss-crosses the Atlantic in search of himself: soldier, hack journalist, writer, fisherman. Surrealism is born in a Paris attic. Europe suffers a nervous collapse, alternating between revolution and reaction. America takes fright. A Viennese doctor of eclectic tastes becomes an intellectual celebrity. An Austrian ex-soldier touts himself as the tribune of the German people.

Outside the classic frames of war and peace, these all-too-human tales – funny, tragic and fateful – tell a wider story of the exuberant dreams, dark fears, grubby ambition and sheer chance which marked Europe’s post-war metamorphosis, and the century to come.

  • Published: 5 September 2019
  • ISBN: 9781473545212
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 752

About the author

Charles Emmerson

CHARLES EMMERSON is an Australian-born writer and historian. He studied modern history at Oxford University and international relations in Paris. He is the author of The Future History of the Arctic and 1913: The World Before the Great War. He lives in London.

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Praise for Crucible

Ricochets the reader around the globe, providing a visceral sense of the power and pace of the whirlwind that in the wake the Great War birthed the world as we know it. The result is a kaleidoscopic portrait, brilliantly curated and elegantly executed, of a world on the cusp of modernity

Wade Davis, author of Into the Silence

A remarkable book… An amazingly audacious and completely innovative way of writing history … immediate and gripping

William Boyd

An ambitious, original, seductive and important work

Robert Gildea

Brings this extraordinary time to life with great vividness by evoking key moments from the daily lives of a dazzling variety of people

Adam Hochschild

Emmerson skilfully tells the story of this lingering end to the Great War and Europe’s subsequent and dramatic transformation

History of War

Emmerson… vividly bring[s] out…the sheer unpredictability of events, the role of personality and pure chance…that lay behind the tidier narrative which…we label ‘history’

David Crane, Literary Review

In its intimate details and its grand overviews, Crucible is a compelling patchwork depiction of an era

Lucy Hughes-Hallett, Times Literary Supplement

The fragmented form of Crucible matches its content… Though never formless, Emmerson’s book dramatises that variegated chaos, dodging to and fro across the globe and veering between tragedy and farce, high politics and low culture

Peter Conrad, Observer

Writing in the present tense, the author hops and skips around the capitals of Europe…giving us short, erudite and often colourful snatches of the lives of a series of individuals which when taken together describe the crucible in which the world is changed

Wynn Weldon, Spectator

Crucible… somehow metastasises into one’s consciousness… The reader is…thrown raw, wet entrails and left to divine them. It’s unsettling, entertaining, aggravating and intriguing

Gerard DeGroot, The Times

[The Reinvention of Humanity is] told very engagingly by Charles King

Julia Llewellyn Smith, Mail on Sunday

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