The Silk Roads

By Peter Frankopan,

Book cover of The Silk Roads: A New History of the World

Book description

The No. 1 Sunday Times and international bestseller - a major reassessment of world history in light of the economic and political renaissance in the re-emerging east For centuries, fame and fortune was to be found in the west - in the New World of the Americas. Today, it is…


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Why read it?

6 authors picked The Silk Roads as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Even more than the oil curse, the location curse is key to understanding the Middle East. Peter Frankopan’s The Silk Roads is one of the best explorations of what imperial geographers identified as Eurasia, the ancient, much-fought-over land bridge between west and east running from the eastern Mediterranean to the Himalayas of which the modern construct of the “Middle East” is only one, sadly reduced part. Frankopan looks away from today’s association with regimes that are unstable, violent threats to international security and/or human rights, and popularly perceived as somehow peripheral to the interests of the West—to its historic center…

From Zimler I learned even in the 18th and 19th centuries Portuguese zipped around the world. From Frankopan I learned this was going on much longer than that! Frankopan´s comprehensive history book is not only about Portugal, but it is more robust and expansive than the short book often mentioned, The First Global Village: How Portugal Changed the World by Martin Page. Both show Portugal as a fulcrum. All helped explain why Portugal is weird. I also recommend Frankopan's short sequel, The New Silk Roads, which clarifies the global power shifts happening now.

From Wendy's list on why Portugal is weird.

An enjoyable read from start to finish, Frankopan vividly describes the successive civilizations that arose in the Middle East, and which influenced the course of world history. As the chapters trace the rise of new technologies, sophisticated philosophies, and cultural refinements, it becomes apparent that he is subtly decentring our traditional view of world history. Europe, we realise, came late to the game, far behind the Assyrians, Byzantines, Sasanians, Abbasids, Mughals, and Persians, who could legitimately have regarded their societies as the centre of world civilization. And their successors, Frankopan argues, still play pivotal roles in global politics.

From Fernanda's list on making us rethink global history.

This book is amazing. In addition to being encyclopedic in scope and detail, this highly readable "reference" book accounts for much of human history. Frankopan focuses on some two dozen 'roads'—some ancient, others recent, and several metaphorical 'roads' that were more historical processes than defined routes. He includes major historical events, but he also gives details that fill out and bring to life the greater stories. He begins with the role that the Silk Roads played on the history of silk, but those roads also were the basis of much of Eurasian history for millennia. This engrossing book is so…

From Robert's list on the history we never learned.

I, like many Brits, studied woefully little non-European history at school. Peter Frankopan’s Silk Roads is a revelation because it re-centres our understanding of global history, shifting the focus from Europe to Eurasia. By discussing the empires, people, trade, and ideas of the Silk Roads — and it is significant that he refers to these overland routes in the plural — Peter makes us reevaluate which events truly changed the course of history, and better appreciate why things are as they are in the world today. This book is available in illustrated and children’s editions, as well as in the…

From Sophie's list on to discover the Silk Road.

This is one of those books that you come back to again and again. Most of us learn a history of the wars that our country happened to win, rather than how we learnt to live together between those conflicts. I asked students in 16 countries to work out what was missing from their education. All identified a sense of global history. This book is the answer to that need. 

From Tom's list on navigating an unstable world.

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