Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Silk Roads: February 2018

The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (2015), by Peter Frankopan (46), is a book after my own heart. Peter Frankopan is a distinguished historian and Professor of Global History at Oxford University. In his book, he looks at the big picture of world history and the driving forces behind it.

As the neolithic culture of the fertile crescent in the middle east was developing around 9000 BCE along the Nile, Eurphrates and Tigris rivers, in China similar development was taking place around the Yellow and Yangtze rivers, and in India along the Indus river.

Peter Frankopan begins by talking about the great empire of the Persians that grew up in the Fertile Crescent, and the empire of the Chinese. These empires built the Silk Roads that stretched from the Mediterranean to Japan through Korea. He shows how those empires quelled fighting within their borders, and encouraged interior trade and exterior trade with each other. This brought a growth in cultures and an improvement in the standard of living. Their main intercourse with each other was to the great benefit of each: trade with each other, which is the main driving force in developing cultures and economies, and is behind almost every transaction countries have with each other. He says that the centre of the world was not the Mediterranean, but in central Asia, where roads carrying goods from China to Europe and vise versa, were fiercely guarded. It still is, where today there is a network of oil pipelines that connect China to the oilfields of the Middle East and Russia. 

Frankopan takes us through history; an exciting journey among the many empires that have impacted the world. He brings us into present day times, and shows how they have grown out of the past. He makes it clear that we must know and understand that past, to fully understand what is going on in the world today. We need to know that history has always flowed along the Silk Roads with trade, and we need a deeper knowledge of all that they carried, from silks, slaves, ideas, religions, and disease, before we can see more clearly that the East and the West have always been linked, and this gives an indication as to where the world is headed.

The book ends in the present day, and shows that, more than ever, we need to understand history so that we can understand the new world that is rising in front of our eyes. The last sentence in the book points out that the Silk Roads are rising again.

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