Andrew Smith's Reviews > The Silk Roads: A New History of the World

The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan
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bookshelves: history-politics, non-fiction

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. His view is that as people travelled the Silk Road routes, between China and the Mediterranean, ideas and religions as well as all sorts of goods travelled with them and that early scholars from the surrounding areas were, in fact, way ahead of the curve.

At an early stage I was seeking out early maps of the area to ascertain where exactly Persia, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Asia Minor and other ancient names actually featured in the geography as we understand it today. The text is, in truth, rather textbook dry but it’s also peppered with small bits of wisdom and knowledge that surprised and delighted me. But it's a long book and I started to find myself rushing through sections to get to the periods I was most interested in.

The final sections of the book deal with events post WWII. I found to this part to be fascinating; even though I'd lived through most of this period, I quickly realised how little I really knew about how this bit of history had unfolded. The conclusion to the book is sobering too as it draws attention to the rich natural resources of the area (gas, oil and minerals) and how this is bringing increasing wealth to nations I couldn't even point to on a map. Frankopan suggests that history may well be turning full circle and cites examples to support his case that in the future the East may be rediscover its former pre-eminence over the West.

A thoughtful and thought provoking book for anyone interested in discovering more about the colourful history of this area.
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Reading Progress

March 20, 2018 – Started Reading
March 20, 2018 – Shelved
March 20, 2018 – Shelved as: history-politics
March 20, 2018 – Shelved as: non-fiction
March 26, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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Lori Excellent review!


Andrew Smith Lori wrote: "Excellent review!"

Thank you, Lori 😊


message 3: by Candi (new)

Candi Great review, Andrew. The Silk Road is so rich in so many different cultures. I never quite realized this until I read a book on the topic a year or two ago - really fascinating!


Andrew Smith Candi wrote: "Great review, Andrew. The Silk Road is so rich in so many different cultures. I never quite realized this until I read a book on the topic a year or two ago - really fascinating!"

Thank you, Candi. Yes, you're right - so many different cultures. And a rich and interesting history behind it all. As you say, it's a fascinating area to learn about.


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