100 books like The Perilous Frontier

By Thomas Barfield,

Here are 100 books that The Perilous Frontier fans have personally recommended if you like The Perilous Frontier. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

Kenneth W. Harl Author Of Empires of the Steppes: A History of the Nomadic Tribes Who Shaped Civilization

From my list on how the nomadic peoples enriched and shaped civilizations across Eurasia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Professor Emeritus of Classical and Byzantine History, and I was fascinated by Attila and the Hun and Genghis Khan from early childhood when I decided that I would become a historian. I set out to write the history of the Eurasian nomads from their perspective, and so convey their neglected history to a wider readership.

Kenneth's book list on how the nomadic peoples enriched and shaped civilizations across Eurasia

Kenneth W. Harl Why did Kenneth love this book?

A literate history of the economic and religious history of Europe, the Middle East, and adjacent Eursian steppes from fifth century B.C. down to the opening of the twenty-first century. I found the book a delight to read.

The first ten chapters are complementary to my work Empires of the Steppes. Professor Frankopan, however, continues the story to emergence of the global economy based on oceanic trade. The excellent analysis of colonial rivalries of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is a must reading for understanding the geopolitical role of Eurasia today the Belt and Road initiative of China.

By Peter Frankopan,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Silk Roads as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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 the east which calls out to those in search of adventure and riches. The region stretching from eastern Europe and sweeping right across Central Asia deep into China and India, is taking centre stage in international politics, commerce and culture - and is shaping the modern world. This region, the…


Book cover of Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

Kenneth W. Harl Author Of Empires of the Steppes: A History of the Nomadic Tribes Who Shaped Civilization

From my list on how the nomadic peoples enriched and shaped civilizations across Eurasia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Professor Emeritus of Classical and Byzantine History, and I was fascinated by Attila and the Hun and Genghis Khan from early childhood when I decided that I would become a historian. I set out to write the history of the Eurasian nomads from their perspective, and so convey their neglected history to a wider readership.

Kenneth's book list on how the nomadic peoples enriched and shaped civilizations across Eurasia

Kenneth W. Harl Why did Kenneth love this book?

This fast-paced, wide-ranging history of Genghis Khan and his successors is by an author with first-hand experience of living among the nomads of the Eurasian steppes.

This work is the best introduction for the general reader on the role of Genghis Khan as a conqueror and ruler as well as the impact of the Mongols on shaping the modern world.

By Jack Weatherford,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The name Genghis Khan often conjures the image of a relentless, bloodthirsty barbarian on horseback leading a ruthless band of nomadic warriors in the looting of the civilized world. But the surprising truth is that Genghis Khan was a visionary leader whose conquests joined backward Europe with the flourishing cultures of Asia to trigger a global awakening, an unprecedented explosion of technologies, trade, and ideas. In Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, Jack Weatherford, the only Western scholar ever to be allowed into the Mongols’ “Great Taboo”—Genghis Khan’s homeland and forbidden burial site—tracks the astonishing story of…


Book cover of The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World

Kenneth W. Harl Author Of Empires of the Steppes: A History of the Nomadic Tribes Who Shaped Civilization

From my list on how the nomadic peoples enriched and shaped civilizations across Eurasia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Professor Emeritus of Classical and Byzantine History, and I was fascinated by Attila and the Hun and Genghis Khan from early childhood when I decided that I would become a historian. I set out to write the history of the Eurasian nomads from their perspective, and so convey their neglected history to a wider readership.

Kenneth's book list on how the nomadic peoples enriched and shaped civilizations across Eurasia

Kenneth W. Harl Why did Kenneth love this book?

Anthony has synthesized a vast literature on historical linguistics and archaeology to explain the origins of the first steppe nomads on the South Russian steppes in the fourth millennium B.C.

In my opinion, Anthony does an outstanding job of explaining the origins and distribution of the speakers of Indo-European languages whose migrations have defined the linguistic map from Ireland to India. Subsequent DNA analysis of the populations of Yamnaya steppe culture has confirmed his thesis based on linguistic evidence and archaeology.

I recommend this book as the fundamental work for any study of the early Indo-European-speaking nomads.

By David W. Anthony,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Horse, the Wheel, and Language as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Roughly half the world's population speaks languages derived from a shared linguistic source known as Proto-Indo-European. But who were the early speakers of this ancient mother tongue, and how did they manage to spread it around the globe? Until now their identity has remained a tantalizing mystery to linguists, archaeologists, and even Nazis seeking the roots of the Aryan race. The Horse, the Wheel, and Language lifts the veil that has long shrouded these original Indo-European speakers, and reveals how their domestication of horses and use of the wheel spread language and transformed civilization. Linking prehistoric archaeological remains with the…


Book cover of Cotton, Climate, and Camels in Early Islamic Iran: A Moment in World History

Kenneth W. Harl Author Of Empires of the Steppes: A History of the Nomadic Tribes Who Shaped Civilization

From my list on how the nomadic peoples enriched and shaped civilizations across Eurasia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Professor Emeritus of Classical and Byzantine History, and I was fascinated by Attila and the Hun and Genghis Khan from early childhood when I decided that I would become a historian. I set out to write the history of the Eurasian nomads from their perspective, and so convey their neglected history to a wider readership.

Kenneth's book list on how the nomadic peoples enriched and shaped civilizations across Eurasia

Kenneth W. Harl Why did Kenneth love this book?

I recommend as a very readable account based on original research about the role played by Oghuz Turkish tribes in extending the range and importance of the international trade along the Silk Road between the tenth and eleventh centuries by breeding hybrid camels.

Bulliet has established his reputation as a scholar of vehicles and beasts of burden with his first groundbreaking book The Camel and the Wheel. While Bulliet’s arguments for an advent of colder climate as the stimulus for the breeding of the hybrid camels can be debated, his overall thesis is sound and explains why the Seljuk Turks emerged as the new military power in Eastern Islam in the eleventh century. 

By Richard Bulliet,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cotton, Climate, and Camels in Early Islamic Iran as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A boom in the production and export of cotton made Iran the richest region of the Islamic caliphate in the ninth and tenth centuries. Yet in the eleventh century, Iran's impressive agricultural economy entered a steep decline, bringing the country's primacy to an end. Richard W. Bulliet advances several provocative theses to explain these hitherto unrecognized historical events. According to Bulliet, the boom in cotton production directly paralleled the spread of Islam, and Iran's agricultural decline stemmed from a significant cooling of the climate that lasted for over a century. The latter phenomenon also prompted Turkish nomadic tribes to enter…


Book cover of Living the Vanlife: On the Road Toward Sustainability, Community, and Joy

Nicole Antoinette Author Of What We Owe to Ourselves: a 500-mile hike on the Colorado Trail

From my list on when you want to quit your life and escape to the mountains.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a former indoor kid and big-city girl, and I never imagined I’d wind up spending months of each year pooping in the woods—by choice! But walking all day every day on footpaths through the wilderness has become one of the greatest loves of my life, and I’m so glad to have books by other adventurous folks to keep me company when I’m back at home. I’ve written two of these books myself: How To Be Alone and What We Owe to Ourselves. I also write a weekly newsletter called Wild Letters, where I share honest stories of self-exploration both on and off the trail.

Nicole's book list on when you want to quit your life and escape to the mountains

Nicole Antoinette Why did Nicole love this book?

Hiking isn’t the only way to escape to the mountains, of course.

After spending three years living part-time in a 20-square-foot van myself, it was such a joy to revisit that particular flavor of wanderlust through Noami’s story—particularly since she doesn’t gloss over the harder aspects of an unconventional, nomadic life on the road.

By Noami Grevemberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Living the Vanlife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discover what it's really like to live and work on the road in a camper van full time from eco-vanlifer and founder of the Diversify Vanlife movement, Noami Grevemberg.

Feeling dissatisfied with her office job and her "stationary home," in 2016 Noami Grevemberg took a bold step. She quit her job, sold her belongings, and set out in her 1985 VW Vanagon to pursue a life of simplicity and travel with her husband and German Shepherd by her side.

In her years living fulltime on the road, Noami has become an expert in the many aspects of vanlife. In her…


Book cover of The Hungry Steppe: Famine, Violence, and the Making of Soviet Kazakhstan

Shoshana Keller Author Of Russia and Central Asia: Coexistence, Conquest, Convergence

From my list on modern Central Asia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of Russia and Eurasia at Hamilton College. I teach courses on Russian history, Central Asia, and the modern Middle East. We usually think of these as separate regions of the world, but in fact they are all connected across the vast Eurasian continent. Russians, Turks, Iranians, Mongols and more have been intertwined with each other throughout their histories. My formal research specialty is Soviet Central Asia. I have written on Stalin’s attempt to destroy Islam, on education and creating a historical narrative for Uzbekistan, and on cotton and manual labor under Khrushchev.

Many people are fascinated by the ancient Silk Road, but don’t know much about how we got from there to the “Stans” that emerged out of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. These books showcase the most recent scholarship on how Central Asia was gradually taken over by the Russian and Chinese empires, and how the republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan were created, as well as Xinjiang Province in the People’s Republic of China.

Shoshana's book list on modern Central Asia

Shoshana Keller Why did Shoshana love this book?

The Kazakhs suffered a devastating famine 1928–1932 that was caused by Stalin’s collectivization campaign. Because the Kazakhs were nomadic herders, the first step was to “modernize” them by forcing them to become settled farmers. Cameron uses Russian- and Kazakh-language sources to show how Soviet communism’s obsession with creating modern nations led to near-genocide.

By Sarah Cameron,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hungry Steppe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Hungry Steppe examines one of the most heinous crimes of the Stalinist regime: the Kazakh famine of 1930-33. More than 1.5 million people, a quarter of Kazakhstan's population, perished. Yet the story of this famine has remained mostly hidden from view. Sarah Cameron reveals this brutal story and its devastating consequences for Kazakh society.

Through extremely violent means, the Kazakh famine created Soviet Kazakhstan, a stable territory with clear boundaries that was an integral part of the Soviet economy; and it forged a new Kazakh national identity. But ultimately, Cameron finds, neither Kazakhstan nor Kazakhs themselves integrated into Soviet…


Book cover of Nomads in the Middle East

Nicholas Morton Author Of The Mongol Storm: Making and Breaking Empires in the Medieval Near East

From my list on the Mongol conquest of Western Eurasia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an associate professor at Nottingham Trent University and my interest in the Mongols first began many years ago during my MA at Royal Holloway University. I had always been interested in the historic relationships between nomadic and agricultural societies, but what I found fascinating about the Mongols was the sheer speed and range of their expansion—how could they have conquered the greater part of the Asia within only a few decades? Exploring how the Mongols grappled with the realities of ruling such a vast imperium remains a very thought-provoking issue, so too is the question of how the peoples they overthrew accommodated themselves to Mongol rule. 

Nicholas' book list on the Mongol conquest of Western Eurasia

Nicholas Morton Why did Nicholas love this book?

The Mongols only form one part of Nomads in the Middle East which paints on a far broader canvas, looking at the long-term history of relations between nomads and agricultural societies in the Middle East.  Spanning from the seventh century all the way up to the modern era, and discussing peoples as diverse as the Bedouin, the Seljuk Turks, and of course the Mongols, Beatrice Forbes Manz provides an incredible overview of the role played by nomadic societies in shaping this region. For those interested in the Mongols, this book helps us to take a step back and a take panoramic view of their actions within a much longer timeline. 

By Beatrice Forbes Manz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nomads in the Middle East as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A history of pastoral nomads in the Islamic Middle East from the rise of Islam, through the middle periods when Mongols and Turks ruled most of the region, to the decline of nomadism in the twentieth century. Offering a vivid insight into the impact of nomads on the politics, culture, and ideology of the region, Beatrice Forbes Manz examines and challenges existing perceptions of these nomads, including the popular cyclical model of nomad-settled interaction developed by Ibn Khaldun. Looking at both the Arab Bedouin and the nomads from the Eurasian steppe, Manz demonstrates the significance of Bedouin and Turco-Mongolian contributions…


Book cover of Long May You Run: A global nomad's search for home

Cathy Tsang-Feign Author Of Keep Your Life, Family and Career Intact While Living Abroad: What Every Expat Needs to Know

From my list on to equip yourself for living abroad.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a psychologist, I've worked with countless emigrants and international expatriates. People relocate to various parts of the world for different reasons. However, each person’s life struggles, cultural background, experiences, and knowledge help make the world more colorful and richer in so many ways. I encourage people to open themselves to see the world and be receptive and tolerant to those who are different from them. It teaches us to be humbler and more respectful, and to enrich our life in general. My choices are about preparing your mind and your heart for life in another culture. Sometimes a well-crafted novel can offer insights that other media can’t express.

Cathy's book list on to equip yourself for living abroad

Cathy Tsang-Feign Why did Cathy love this book?

An important memoir on the topic of Third Culture Kids (TCK). This refers to people who grow up outside their own (or at least their parents') native countries and perhaps live in several countries throughout their childhood.

“Home”, as their parents call it, is a place thousands of kilometers away, which they may only visit for two weeks a year. Unlike immigrant children, they tend to not set down roots in the places they live. The author, who grew up in New Zealand, Australia, England, and Hong Kong, uses her experiences to excavate many issues accumulated while living from one country to another.

When parents decide to relocate internationally, children do not have a say, but their lives are impacted in a dramatic way that adults often fail to see or understand. I strongly recommend parents who plan to move abroad with children to get a deeper understanding on this…

By Adele Barlow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Long May You Run as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Stand on the Sky

Mahtab Narsimhan Author Of Mission Mumbai: A Novel of Sacred Cows, Snakes, and Stolen Toilets

From my list on to travel the world without leaving home.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been an avid reader. At school, during recess, I would find places to hide so the teachers wouldn’t find me and insist on sending me out to play. Exploring other countries also fascinated me but, growing up, we did not have the money to travel the world. Books became my means of travel. I especially love books written by authors who have lived or grown up in that setting. It’s why I find writing stories in an Indian setting easy and satisfying. The highest compliment from my readers is when they feel immersed in my stories and come away feeling like they’ve been to India and now want to eat an Indian meal. 

Mahtab's book list on to travel the world without leaving home

Mahtab Narsimhan Why did Mahtab love this book?

This story of a young girl, Aisulu, who bucks tradition to become an eagle hunter is simply heart-wrenching and a fabulous read. The research is thorough, and I was steeped in the Kazakh (a nomadic tribe in the mountains of Mongolia), even as the plot advanced with emotional twists and turns for the main characters. The voice of Aisulu is spot on. All the supporting characters but especially her brother Serik, and her aunt and uncle are richly drawn. 

Erin spent a summer with the Kazakh eagle hunters and had sensitivity readers review her work for authenticity. This book won the Governor General Award (the highest in Canada) in 2019 and totally deserves it! 

By Erin Bow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stand on the Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

2019 Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award? An exquisitely written, uplifting middle grade debut by acclaimed author, Erin Bow, about a young girl who defies her family's expectations in order to save her brother and become an eagle hunter, perfect for fans of PAX. It goes against all tradition for Aisulu to train an eagle, for among the Kazakh nomads, only men can fly them. But everything changes when Aisulu discovers that her brother, Serik, has been concealing a bad limp that risks not just his future as the family's leader, but his life too. When her parents leave…


Book cover of The Last Nomad: Coming of Age in the Somali Desert

MaryAnn Shank Author Of The Mystical Land of Myrrh

From my list on strong Somali women.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Somalia in the late 1960’s I witnessed the upheaval in the society due to the massive changes in government demanded by the Western world. There were so many brave people emerging from this chaos, especially women. There was even a young Somali woman who saved my life. That such strength grows in such circumstances still amazes me. I am honored to bring a few of them to you, and to share a small part of my personal experience in Somalia.

MaryAnn's book list on strong Somali women

MaryAnn Shank Why did MaryAnn love this book?

Shugri is the last nomad in her family. There are no more.

She fled the wars, the famines, the torture that had become Somalia and, through a treacherous journey became a refugee in hostile places, landing finally in California. Along with her constant confusion with escalators and washing machines, she overcame her fears of torture, and her suspicions, to become a nurse, a wife and a mother, a valuable citizen of her community.

I have met Shugri, and she is now one of the kindest, gentlest people I know. She has a lot to teach all of us about strength of character, and loving.

By Shugri Said Salh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Nomad as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A remarkable and inspiring true story that "stuns with raw beauty" about one woman's resilience, her courageous journey to America, and her family's lost way of life.

Finalist for the 2022 Dayton Literary Peace Prize Nonfiction Award
Winner of the 2022 Gold Nautilus Award, Multicultural & Indigenous Category

Born in Somalia, a spare daughter in a large family, Shugri Said Salh was sent at age six to live with her nomadic grandmother in the desert. The last of her family to learn this once-common way of life, Salh found herself chasing warthogs, climbing termite hills, herding goats, and moving constantly…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in nomads, China, and Mongols?

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