BIRKENHEAD, Earl of.; [E. MCKNIGHT KAUFFER, Illus.] The World in 2030. London: Hodder and Stoughton, .
8vo., original black waxed cloth lettered in red to upper cover and spine; upper edge red; in the original and unrestored dust jacket; with frontis and a further 8 illustrations by E. McKnight Kauffer to match each chapter heading; one or two with the tissue guards loose or lacking; pp. [vi], vii-xi, [i], 1-215, [i]; boards a little rubbed to head and foot, p. 175-178 with a couple of small holes to lower margin of paper (not affecting text); else a clean, tight copy in unclipped (12/6 net) jacket; toned, but one of the most superior we have seen, with some chips and nicks to spine ends and internal flaps; one small closed tear to lower panel; lettering faded to spine; a very good example of a scarce work.
Frederick Edwin Smith (1872-1930), 1st Earl of Birkenhead, was a British Conservative statesman, barrister, and one of Winston Churchill's closest friends and allies. He was also a member of the 1924 Olympic Committee (portrayed in Chariots of Fire by Nigel Davenport) and a significant player in the creation of the Irish Free State in 1921.
The World in 2030 was written in the final year of his life, and contains nine chapters encompassing everything from industry and women to world polity, and everyday life. His book follows the usual pattern of startling accuracy mixed with error, in which:
- Agricure becomes extinct ("beefsteaks made by the ton in laboratories")
- Ca are past their best-by date, having “sunk to the nadir of their popularity... now occupied by the bicycle."
- Preparations for a transmission to Ma are under way – but the first attempts miscalculate, missing the planet entirely.
- Tanks and other combat vehicl are all controlled wirelessly.
- Reproducti is carried out in laboratories via "the ectogenetic birth and development of children born from fertilised cells drawn from a woman's body".
- Televisi has advanced: “stereoscopic television in natural colours, enabling a test match in Australia to be seen with perfect clearness in London; Parliamentary debates heard by everyone.
- Disee has been practically abolished.
The text is accompanied by striking modernist images by the American artist Edward McKnight Kauffer, and remains a surprising final statement from a fiery and brilliant, if frequently flawed, statesman.