Markus Krajewski, World Projects. Global Information before World War I, trans. by Charles Marcrum II, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2014, 328 pp., 17 b&w photos.
Drawing from a broad array of archival materials, Krajewski reveals how expanding commercial relations, growing international scientific agreements, and an imperial monopolization of the political realm spawned ambitious global projects. World Projects contends that the late nineteenth-century networks of cables, routes, and shipping lines—of junctions, crossovers, and transfers—merged into a “multimedia system” that was a prerequisite for conceiving a world project. As examples, he presents the work of three big-thinking “plansmiths,” each of whose work mediates between two discursive fields: the chemist and natural philosopher Wilhelm Ostwald, who spent years promoting a “world auxiliary language” and a world currency; the self-taught “engineer” and self-anointed authority on science and technology Franz Maria Feldhaus, who labored to produce an all-encompassing “world history of technology”; and Walther Rathenau, who put economics to the service of politics and quickly transformed the German economy.
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