The Silk Roads: A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Silk Road. Just the very name conjures up images of travellers carrying expensive bolts of cloth, exotic spices and fine ceramics from the Far East to Europe. This road was more than that though, it was how the two separate domains of East and West first encountered each other, was the backdrop to countless wars, as power ebbed and flowed back and forth across the continent. The road has been responsible for the spread of numerous religions over millennia, not just the Abrahamic ones, but Buddhism and Zoroastrianism spread along the route. Great cities grew along the road, which spawned even greater cultures.
Western countries have dominated the planet for the last 500 years but in this book he argues that most of these turning points in history have had some greater or lesser influence from the Silk Road in world history. Not sure I agree with all of the inferences, but I think that he is right in that the fulcrum is tilting world power away from the West and back to the East once again. It is a very detailed, huge, broad-brush view of world history seen through the prism of this ancient route from Europe to the Far East. I had hoped there would be more on the ancient history of place and people that trekked and made their lives from the Silk Road network; there wasn’t sadly, but it was still a good history of the world seen from this perspective. 3.5 Stars overall.
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