Far more than a history of the Silk Roads, this book is truly a revelatory new history of the world, promising to destabilize notions of where we come from and where we are headed next. From the Middle East and its political instability to China and its economic rise, the vast region stretching eastward from the Balkans across the steppe and South Asia has been thrust into the global spotlight in recent years. Frankopan teaches us that to understand what is at stake for the cities and nations built on these intricate trade routes, we must first understand their astounding pasts.
Frankopan realigns our understanding of the world, pointing us eastward. It was on the Silk Roads that East and West first encountered each other through trade and conquest, leading to the spread of ideas, cultures and religions. From the rise and fall of empires to the spread of Buddhism and the advent of Christianity and Islam, right up to the great wars of the twentieth century—this book shows how the fate of the West has always been inextricably linked to the East.
About the Author
PETER FRANKOPAN is a historian based at Oxford University. He is the author of The First Crusade: The Call from the East, a major monograph about Byzantium, Islam and the West in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. He is a senior research fellow at Worcester College, Oxford, and the director of the Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research at Oxford University. His revised translation of The Alexiad was published in the United States in 2009.
“One of Mr. Frankopan’s gifts as a storyteller is his ability to draw unusual connections across his vast canvas . . . . Frankopan has written a rare book that makes you question your assumptions about the world.” —The Wall Street Journal
“This provocative history challenges the view of the West as heir to a pure Greco-Roman culture. . . . Frankopan marshals diverse examples to demonstrate the interconnectedness of cultures, showing in vivid detail the economic and social impact of the silk and the slave trades, the Black Death, and the Buddhist influence on Christianity.” —The New Yorker
“In his new book, The Silk Roads, Frankopan has created something that forces us to sit up and reconsider the world and the way we've always thought about it. . . . The book takes us by surprise right from the start.” —NPR
“This is deeply researched popular history at its most invigorating, primed to dislodge routine preconceptions and to pour in other light. The freshness of . . . Frankopan’s sources is stimulating, and their sheer range can provoke surprising connections. He likes to administer passing electric shocks.” —Colin Thubron, New York Review of Books
“This is history on a grand scale, with a sweep and ambition that is rare. . . . A remarkable book on many levels, a proper historical epic of dazzling range and achievement.” —William Dalrymple, The Guardian
“A glorious read. . . . Frankopan is an exhilarating companion for the journey along the routes which conveyed silk, slaves, ideas, religion, and disease, and around which today may hang the destiny of the world.” —Vanity Fair
“Dazzlingly rich and accessible. . . . By reorienting the history of the last few millennia to the east, and by resolutely keeping the camera rolling there, Frankopan unhooks us from the usual story of ‘Western Civ’ and gives us a startling and brilliant perspective on events that may once have been familiar—and plenty that aren’t.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Beautifully constructed, a terrific and exhilarating read and a new perspective on world history.” —History Today