The sun is setting on the Western world. Slowly but surely, the direction in which the world spins has reversed: where for the last five centuries the globe turned westward on its axis, it now turns to the east.... For centuries fame and fortune were to be found in the West - in the New World of the Americas. Today it is the East that 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 center stage in international politics, commerce, and culture - and is shaping the modern world. This region, the true center of the Earth, is obscure to many in the English-speaking world. Yet this is where civilization itself began, where the world's great religions were born and took root. The Silk Roads were no exotic series of connections but networks that linked continents and oceans together. Along them flowed ideas, goods, disease, and death. This was where empires were won - and where they were lost. As a new era emerges, the patterns of exchange are mirroring those that have criss-crossed Asia for millennia. The Silk Roads are rising again. A major reassessment of world history, The Silk Roads is an important account of the forces that have shaped the global economy and the political renaissance in the reemerging East.
©2015 Peter Frankopan (P)2015 Audible, Inc.
I picked the Silk Road as an introduction to eastern history. I'm a great lover of history but have to admit almost all my studies have been of western history.
I thought the title "the silk roads" would have meant that the book was about China and and the Middle East. But China barely gets a mention in this book.
I also found it astonishing how much western history is mentioned in this book. Alexander the Great, Ancient Rome and the Byzantines are referred to a lot in the early stages of the book.
Then the crusaders get dragged into it, followed by the European powers of the 15th century through to the USA today.
In short, it's a very western focused book for a so called "new history of the world".
One part I did find intriguing was the so called "golden age@ of the Islamic caliphate. That made me want to study this a bit more.
Towards the end of the book it just becomes anti-west vitriol.
Overall I think this book is not so much a history book as a political / opinion book.
However there were a few interesting parts so I give it 2 stars instead of 1.
Liked the revelations relating to Europe and USA interference in modern Arabia leading to the recent cause of unrest. Will listen again sometime and provide recommendations to friends that may be able to last the long journey the book requires;-)
of the history of this region with events that occurred in my lifetime. nothing like seeing history repeat itself
The author has thoroughly researched diverse cultures and traditions and knit them into an accurate depiction of events. The story is told through episodes which personalise key events by masterful story-telling involving the pivotal characters. An epic tale that is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking.
The author provides an interesting and entertaining backstory to world events which have shaped our world today. Revealing the deals and double crosses which have created strange bedfellows of unlikely alliances. My enemy's enemy is my friend would also be a suitable title. Why countries are able to support ideologically opposites is revealed.
It started well, with an introduction promising to correct biases. He criticizes the standard story of world history: Greece begat Rome begat the Renaissance, Enlightenment, England, America; but then proceeds to essentially tell that story, albeit with a continuous focus on near and central Asia. There was an interesting portrait of a thriving medieval Asia, but apart from that, the story was largely told through Western eyes. The story of the colonisation of America seemed familiar and mostly irrelevant to his central thesis, and thus somewhat out of place. His history of the 20th century was very engaging for me, and had a number of new revelations and insights. Overall, well worth listening to, alongside other history books.
I'd love to see a true history of Asia, but I don't think Audible has such a thing at present.
Best book I have read with the last chapter pulling it all together. This book is a detailed look into the past that has a striking relevance to today.
Should be mandatory reading for all adults and policy makers. This changes your perception of everything.
"Time, the creation of gods, the needs of commerce"
Hammurabi is mention at the very beginning (1810 - 1750 BC) of this incredible expansive and ambitious book, taking us through the ages and arriving to very recent history, opening doors and unapologetically exposing the interest and machinations of power, clearly coldly; because this world is dog eat dog world, and if you are not the powerful you are the weak and the meek and this history will tell you what that really means, and what happens over and over when you are not ready to survive and be the the alfa, in what is a feast of accumulated records and knowledge with refreshing bluntness and honesty.
Every culture is ethnocentric and sees the world from their particular perspective, this book tries to expand on that representation of reality and advances a few truth that will make many cringe, with its dispassionate presentation of the evolution of religion and influences of one religion on one another and how they borrow for the convenience or promotion in their constituency and how inevitably they attach themselves to governments and nationalistic needs. It explains how the cross pollination of cultures and ideas and the influence of markets, money,commerce, influence the applications of power, belief and morality; throughout the centuries.
It will dispel the filling that globalisation is a new construct, but that it is a two thousand year old reality, that has persisted and adapted through everything, because it distributes wealth and the goods we desire to flavour our food dress our bodies to exchange ideas, create gods and alliances to feed the one true power the market, the global market.
Without the jingoism of nationalism and a more global view of economies the writer changes the perspective of nationalism, to the market interests as the real force behind all realms, striping most of the prevarication and artifacts that makes as believe in a moral, or racial superiority, to oil the needs of power and government to maintain revenue flowing and advantages for the rulers in place in what is a millennial game of chess.
If you like history this is a feast that will open your appetite, and clear your mind to regard history with a new reverence, without romanticism or heroism, just a fascinating human history, and its naked motivations.
The narrator of this book is excellent and adds color and interest to a great story.
"A Must Read for people interested in modern global politics."
What a wonderful comprehensive portrait of the Middle East through the centuries! So much becomes clear when you consider the history in terms of "big picture" interpretation. This book will appeal to scholars and lay people alike. Excellent read.
"History that is as entertaining as it is educating"
For me this is highly personal, as most of the listening I did while in Istanbul, so I was situated in one of the prime locations mentioned in the earlier sections of the book. But on a less 'contextual' level, I found listening to extremely well written history that assumed the reader/listener was intelligent but not an expert a true pleasure.
That Frankopan, as usual, manages to tie everything together in a cohesive manner.
No. The attempt at different voices and accents was cringeworthy. I realise that he was trying to differentiate when he was reading a direct quote but sometimes he bordered on offensive or racist, or downright silly.
No but I did very much enjoy it.
While I know this kind of book is not for everyone, I very much hope a lot of people listen to or read it.
"Gets much better throughout"
The book sets out with the noble aim of rewriting the history of the world from a brand new, different perspective based around what happened in central Asia, rather than being Eurocentric. However the first half of the book utterly fails to do this, as it is just the same old history of ancient Europe we've heard countless times. However it improves hugely by the middle ages and suddenly its perspective finally becomes about trade, and features bits of history new to me. The final quarter is by the far the best, the history of oil in the middle east, as this was the only section that was completely novel to me.
So persevere, and it ends up being quite a good book!
"Great book on history"
For such a long book on a complex subject I found this book hard to turn off.
Very informative and well presented.
"An enormously impressive global history"
Its vast scope is jaw dropping, yet it is very accessible and often thrilling. Dr Peter Frankopan is a scholar of prodigious ability, not least due to his command of numerous languages, and he has achieved a wonderful thing: a history of the world that shifts the focus away from the Mediterranean and Atlantic, instead restoring Asia and the Middle East to the centre of the story. More than that, he joins the dots between ancient empires and the geopolitics of the modern world, providing insight into the historical underpinnings of Putin's Russia, China's economic muscle, and the turmoil in Afghanistan, Iraq & Syria. The Silk Roads is undoubtedly my favourite book of 2015.
The central thesis is the most memorable thing - we are too obsessed with Western history, yet for millennia it was Asia and the Middle East which were the focus of great empires, innovation, culture, trade, and conflict.
Laurence Kennedy injects thespian gravitas, and handles the variety of accents and foreign words admirably, but he did seem a little fatigued sometimes. But given the vast scope of the book, that is entirely forgiveable.
That would be impossible! It's a richly rewarding book that I absorbed over a couple of weeks.
"Not so much about the east"
I was hoping to hear about eastern history linked with the silk roads. But this is the same old western history with just a bit of focus on silk roads with huge focuses on world wars and all. If I need a chronological western history, I would choose another book. So this one is neither here nor there. Disappointing.
"A brilliant Listen But..."
Yes, the best thing about it is it has a clear time line of major events in history that are rarely but on the same time line.. so helps massively towards getting the pig picture.
the contrasting fortunes of the West and East, and how the Mongol invasions was perceived. also the Crusaders vs. the Byzantine.
he is very good.
When the world Shouted go East.. because there is nothing in the West
The book is about the orient but from a very western point view... I found some parts of it very irking, with some very controversial interpretations of events quoted as fact.
"fantastic book and narration. listened to it twice"
excellent book covering a diverse range of very interesting parts of the world history. must read
I have just finished listening. Now I'm going to listen again. History really is very subjective.
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