The Perilous Frontier

By Thomas Barfield,

Book cover of The Perilous Frontier: Nomadic Empires and China, 221 BC to AD 1757

Book description

Around 800 BC, the Eurasian steppe underwent a profound cultural transformation that was to shape world history for the next 2,500 years: the nomadic herdsmen of Inner Asia invented cavalry which, with the use of the compound bow, gave them the means to terrorize first their neighbors and ultimately, under…

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Why read it?

1 author picked The Perilous Frontier as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This is the fundamental, well written work for the relationship between imperial China and the nomadic peoples.

I am impressed how Barefield perceptively analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of successive nomadic confederations from the Xiongnu down to the Mongols.

He argues convincingly, in my opinion, that often the Chinese Empire and the nomadic confederation often depended upon each other economically and militarily as is well seen in the alliance between later Tang emperors and the Uyghur Khans in the eighth and early ninth centuries.

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