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John Smolens[Butterworth] recounts in exhaustive detail the nefarious plots and schemes of both the anarchists and the spies who were determined to stop them. At times, his attention tends to flit about nervously, yet he also writes vivid, sustained passages that render the desperation behind such incidents…In its thorough, compelling examination of anarchism, The World That Never Was is not a chronicle of isolated violent acts committed by deranged individuals. Rather, it convincingly portrays anarchism as the product of an inexorable human impulse. And it leads one to ask if anarchism might again (or, perhaps, still) be lurking at the fringes of society.
—The Washington Post