The World That Never Was Now on Sale

Alex Butterworth’s “gripping and unsettling” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) The World That Never Was, a thrilling history of the rise of anarchism, told through the stories of a number of prominent revolutionaries and the agents of the secret police who pursued them, is now on sale from Pantheon. Butterworth’s book “has much of value to impart, from the understanding that today’s radicals may be tomorrow’s sensible visionaries to the unanticipated perils of both terrorism and counterterrorism.” (

Alex Butterworth is a historian and dramatist whose first book, Pompeii: The Living City, won the Longman-History Today New Generation Book of the Year Award in 2006. He lives in Oxford, England.

“Gripping and unsettling . . . 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.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Reports that al-Qaeda operatives were studying Bakunin have encouraged journalists to explain twenty-first-century Jihadists by quoting nineteenth-century anarchists. Butterworth fears that ignorance of anarchist principles often makes these explanations misleading. And it is genuine understanding of this forgotten tradition that he here offers . . . Butterworth urges his readers to recognize the alarming contemporary parallels. A narrative taut with intrigue and freighted with contemporary significance.”
Booklist (starred review)