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The Silk Roads: A New History of the World

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  26,360 ratings  ·  2,465 reviews
For centuries, fame and fortune were to be found in the west – in the New World of the Americas. Today, it is the east which calls out to those in search of riches and adventure. Sweeping right across Central Asia and deep into China and India, a region that once took centre stage is again rising to dominate global politics, commerce and culture.

A major reassessment of wor
Hardcover, 636 pages
Published August 27th 2015 by Bloomsbury
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Jenn Yes this was a new hypothesis to me too. Yet the way he explained it made sense, and certainly explained why the whole pack of cards came collapsing d…moreYes this was a new hypothesis to me too. Yet the way he explained it made sense, and certainly explained why the whole pack of cards came collapsing down upon the assassination of the Archduke. It is something that would be worth exploring more. `Sleepwalkers' seems to be the authoritative text on the subject if you are interested - I started reading it then my kindle packed up!(less)
Brian The West plays a fairly major role in the story he's telling - and it dominates the latter half of the book. But the author does present the actions o…moreThe West plays a fairly major role in the story he's telling - and it dominates the latter half of the book. But the author does present the actions of the West objectively, and he isn't shy at highlighting the fact that the actions of the West have led to the predicaments it now finds itself facing. It's an illuminating read. (less)

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Katia N
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
Oh - I am really disappointed with this book! Maybe because I had very different expectations about it. I've read the title and the introduction by the author, and I thought that it was exactly what I want - to know more about the people of this region over the centuries. I wanted to find out about their way of life, religions, political systems, culture and economy. I wanted to know more about their interactions with each other and (only at the last place) their interactions with the other part ...more
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody
Recommended to Jaidee by: a special somebody
4.5 " epic, illuminating, depleting, disheartening " stars !!

2018 Honorable Mention Read.

I started this very long book back in September of 2017 and almost half way through took a lengthy break as there was a chapter missing in my ebook and I had to wait a few months to get a copy from the library. I also needed a break from the many evils of world history.

Over my life I have tried to read a number of very thick books that cover the world from the beginning of historical time and have always f
Tariq Mahmood
Sep 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is the most unbiased and objective narration of history focussing on the rich history of countries on the old Silk Route. The aim was simple, somehow focus the spotlight of history back on this region instead of focussing on European and American historical version which seems to be widely prevalent. Peter has weaved a tremendous story which at times almost seems apocryphal to someone like myself who is steeped with the popular historical narrative. The fact that Peter is a well respected h ...more
The Silk Roads is part of the genre of popular history books that purports to tell the history of the world through one particular theme or from one particular vantage point, and is better than most of them. Peter Frankopan is a trained historian, and so knows how to synthesise a great deal of information from cultures across Asia and Europe and the span of several centuries in a nuanced manner. As an example of a sweeping chronicle, there's much to admire here. The author knows how to keep a na ...more
Omar Ali
Jun 13, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a frustrating, though still useful, book. Historian Peter Frankopan's title claims this is "a new history of the world". He then proposes that what the world needs is to reorient its focus from Europe to "the silk roads", vaguely defined by him as "the region between East and West.. from the Eastern shores of the Black Sea and the Mediterranean to the Himalayas". This almost certainly reflects the fact that the core of this region happens to his particular area of interest (Turkey, Persi ...more
Simon Clark
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Simply stunning, a clear-eyed, convention-defying overview of human history. If you were to give an alien a single book to understand the large-scale building blocks of history, this would be an excellent choice. Comparing favourably with Yuval Noah Harari's blockbuster Sapiens due to its meticulous referencing, this is a book on - really - economic history that I simply could not put down. If I could make this review physically glow, I would. I loved this book that much. ...more
Richard Newton
Well written, well researched, interesting and original - all good points about a book that is excellent in parts. I enjoyed reading it, found much to be compelling and challenging to some of my own views, but at times I found this book frustrating.

For all its excellence, this is less one book than two. And neither of those books quite fulfils the promise of the title. The first book, roughly chapters 1-16, is a history of trade routes - and in being that, it is largely about Eurasia. The secon
Jenny Schwartz
Feb 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Don't let the size of "The Silk Roads" daunt you. It's very readable. The scope is huge, geographically and over centuries, but Peter Frankopan keeps everything clear and moving along.

I lack familiarity with the history, so I can't say whether his arguments, his judgements on history, are true -- and what is truth? Probably if each of us studied the same scholarly texts we'd decide things a bit differently. But his arguments did hang together: the evidence he presents supports his insights.

An extremely well researched but defintely not "dry" history of the Silk Roads. I am definitely a happy camper.

Need time to gather my thoughts and refer to my notes for a better and cohesive review reaction...
Andrew Smith
This book covers the history of the area known as the Silk Road since it was first used, by traders circa 200 years BCE, up to very recent times. I'd touched on some of this history before but Peter Frankopan comes at events from a slightly different angle: essentially, his premiss is that early civilisation wasn't actually shaped by the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians - it was the Persians who provided the catalyst for much of the learning and development that established the world we now live in. ...more
Philip Allan
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Silk Roads is history painted on an epic scale. The books starts with the birth of human civilisation in the Fertile Crescent and in China, and takes the reader through to the 21st century, becoming more reportage on current events. Between is a journey as fascinating as one made by any caravan crossing the mountains and deserts of Central Asia on the silk road of the title.

This a book about Asia, and the links that run between the Far East and the Atlantic in the Far West. Frankopan uses t
Jun 09, 2018 rated it did not like it

This book. It's been such a disappointment: Not only is the title an exercise in how to cram several misrepresentations in less than ten words, but the writing style left me rather unimpressed, too.

There is little that is new about the history contained in the book. It certainly is not a history of the world (Europe, perhaps, but the focus on the power struggles between Christianity and Islam, and later on the West v. the East, and the US against Iraq/Iran/Afghanistan does not make this a b
Clif Hostetler
Nov 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
This is a world history from the perspective that the area between China and Europe is the “center of gravity” of everything important in human endeavors. For the author, Frankopan, this loosely defined region is bounded by western China, northern India, the Horn of Africa, eastern Syria, and southern Russia. Roughly speaking this places Uzbekistan in the center. When passage through this area was the only way for trade goods to be transported between east and west it was indeed an important are ...more
Rohit Enghakat
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star, history
This is one of the most beautiful history books I have ever read. It was recommended to me by 7Jane (thank you, 7Jane) and in turn I have recommended this to a few other people. What attracted me was the title and the beautifully designed cover. However, the title was a bit of a misnomer when it says that it is a new history of the world.

The book largely concentrates on Europe and the Middle East with a passing reference to other countries. The book is written in a chronological order starting
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A broad and comprehensive overview of the history of the world, starting with the Persians in the 6th century BC, and ending with the contempory challenges in Central Asia. For me, this book had three merits.
First of all, I admired the way the author explains the connections between and the interdependency of historical events in completely different parts of the world. After reading this book, I realized that globalisation is not new, but existed throughout the history of the world. One great
Apr 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a profoundly ambitious book, aiming to tell the whole history of the world from the perspective of the "Silk Roads" that run through Asia. In a way it is almost impossibly ambitious, because the subject itself is limitlessly broad, potentially. The author runs through the history in a way that is generally satisfactory, although by necessity he has to skim over many events that were quite monumental. This is a general world-history, a clearly written and useful one, but not one that nece ...more
In this book, Peter Frankopan wants to give an alternative insight in the history of the world by describing the history of the Persian region which has shaped and still shapes the world we live in today

The traditional view that the world we know today was shaped by the Romans and the Greeks is challenged in this book. Instead, Frankopan places the center the centre of the world in the region of modern Iraq, Iran, the Caucasus and the Russian steppes.

The silk roads have functioned as the world's
I LOVED this book. If you are extremely well versed in history, then, to you, it might not read like the "new history of the world," the book promises. Since I am only a moderate reader of history, there was plenty of new information for me in this book. Usually, the history that interests me most involves great scientists or inventors or the kings, queens, and other rulers of the world from the distant past. When trying to read about more recent events, such as the Revolutionary war, WWI or WWI ...more
This is not the history of the Silk Road. If you are looking for descriptions on the trade routes, system, goods, traders, trade journeys, etc, forget about it. The book focuses more on Western-based historical development as well as events. Totally not what I am looking for.
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a beast of a book - in actual size, but also in the sheer volume of information and ideas contained within.

A lively read (as far as history goes at least) The Silk Roads is a sweeping view of world history, covering particularly the rise, fall and rise of The East. From Persia to Rome, the Black Plague to the Renaissance and even recent events in the Middle East, it's amazing to see the repetition of themes and events throughout civilization. This should be required reading for any would-b
Inderjit Sanghera
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Frankopan's style is both engaging and informative as he offers an alternative view of history; one which concentrates on the importance and richness of 'Eastern' culture, society and ideas on history as opposed to the dominant Western-centric narrative. ...more
Katie Lumsden
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I found this very interesting, dealing with a lot of complex issues in an interesting way. It did take me a while to get into though - I might have got more out of it reading it in book form not on audiobook.

This is neither non eurocentric nor devoid of the west. The second half of the book comprises mostly of the West whereas China and India doesn't even have a dedicated chapter. More of a history of the world from western POV. It's not a bad thing, this is very readable and well structured, but just doesn't fit the title of Silk Roads. Even Ottoman empire was only mentioned in passing and the whole Trade in itself is overshadowed by regional histories. It has good chapters for Christianity and
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Hugely ambitious history of the world told very deliberately from a viewpoint centred on the areas of Central Asia, the Middle East and Southern Russia (and the trade routes that linked them) rather than the usual Eurocentric view and also written very much from a top down political/military/economic viewpoint of great people and events rather than as a social history.

The book proceeds chronologically but with each chapter Road themed (the road to Furs, Revolution, Gold, Empire etc.) starting w
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 Bu ...more
61st book for 2017.

This book is all over the place. While I enjoyed sections of it (the discussion of slave markets in Central Europe was an eye opener), it lacked clear focus. You'd be forgiven for thinking that this would be a "new history of the silk roads", but it's not. It's mostly a story about European (predominantly England - France barely gets a mention - and later US and USSR) relations to Asia, but it jumps all over the place. Why on earth was their a whole chapter on Spain's conquest
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
This new take on the history of the world has set my head spinning. What's that you say, Peter Frankopan? The Holocaust came about because...of what? Food shortages in Russia? What? And Germany wasn't the only burly aggressor in World War II? Huh? And the center of the world hasn't always been Europe? What?

If Peter Frankopan didn't have such sterling credentials, and if The Silk Roads hadn't been published by such an esteemed company as Knopf, I'd have set this book aside before I got very far
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Would you like to pull back from all the politicking, name-calling and Euro-American self-absorption to get a unique perspective on how we got where we are?

I recommend reading Peter Frankopan's "The Silk Roads: A New History of the World."

You see, while we in the West were only taught the world history that directly impacted on us - and made us look heroic, important things were going on in all those areas we felt were important enough to keep a presence, but not important enough to be part of
Rodrigo Acuna
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"Time, the creation of gods, the needs of commerce "

Hammurabi is mention at the very beginning (1810 - 1750 BC) of this incredible expansive and ambitious book, taking us through the ages and arriving to very recent history, opening doors and unapologetically exposing the interest and machinations of power, clearly coldly; because this world is dog eat dog world, and if you are not the powerful you are the weak and the meek and this history will tell you what that really means, and what happens
I am genuinely upset this book had to end. This spans such a large time frame specific to Western China, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe; the original Silk Roads. Its very readable and unbiased. Virtually every page is full of history that leads to the next time frame. Very interesting this specific part of the world has been fought over since the Roman times to present day United States/Russian involvement. Nations are desperate for control or to prevent control of this resource rich land. ...more
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Peter studied History at Jesus College, Cambridge, where he was Foundation Scholar, Schiff Scholar and won the History Prize in 1993, when he took an outstanding first class degree. He did his D.Phil (Ph.D) at Corpus Christi College, where he was elected to a Senior Scholarship before moving to Worcester College as Junior Research Fellow in 1997. He has been Senior Research Fellow since 2000 and i ...more

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