The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
For the Western world, cities in the East have difficult names, are exotic, perhaps backwards, and rarely considered to have an impact on Western politics and society. This book’s aim is to present a case that these cities, and the empires that once claimed them continue to have a real influence on today’s economies all over the globe. World histories typically suffer from two main criticisms: They do not take in to account all factors that lead to major world events, focusing instead on only a few main ones which they claim are relevant. The second criticism is that they do not take into account all world events, sometimes ignoring large portions of history especially if these historical narratives are at odds with the historian’s world view.
This book attempts to explain world events arising from events and attitudes along the Silk Road (defined as the network of trade routes from China to the Mediterranean). It also reduces the impetus for major events to economic motives. In the process it focuses unevenly on certain historical events and epochs – a criticism that can be levelled against virtually any historical account.
The narrative is chronological starting with the Persian Empire, and speculating about the future. Along the way the trade and transportation of goods along the Silk Road is discussed which brings in its wake other consequences. One such consequence is the evolution of religions along the Silk Road as they compete and trade ideas with each other. Another is the transmission of disease that brought the Black Death to Europe. The Atlantic Trade is also discussed and tied to trade along the Silk Road, as are major conflicts. In recent times, the world has looked to the West as a model of sophistication. This book predicts that current world events will move the center of the world back to the Silk Road – where it claims it has traditionally been. Readers may not agree with the views presented in this book. However it does provide an alternate viewpoint. For those who embrace alternate viewpoints, or are curious about them, this would be a good book.