Author: Peter Frankopan
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Review By: Shana
A sweeping history told from a perspective all too often lacking - that is, world history where the West is not the central player and its current dominance is not fated. Dr. Frankopan tells the engrossing and intricate history of the world from the vantage point of the vital Silk Road. This shifts the reader's gaze from a Euro-centric (and later American-centric) narrative to a broader vantage point, seeing power and commerce, politics and religion, as it coursed along the all-important trade routes connecting Asia and the Mediterranean.
He begins his book by noting that it is Asia (which includes Egypt and areas that we more commonly think of as the Middle East) and not Europe that was the wellspring of civilization and empire. History does not begin with Greece and Rome, flow into the crusades, and lead inimitably to the Renaissance (which the author rightly points out was less of a rebirth than a birth). History goes back further and is centered elsewhere.
He does not ignore Europe and America. The book studies the ebbs and flows of power, the wars and tectonic shifts of dominance, all the way into the 21st century. But by not taking the West as the starting point or epicenter, the story is richer and fuller, and explores how the West, Russia, the Middle East, India, and China all vied for the riches of the Silk Road, for the power of controlling the flow of goods (from silk in ancient times to oil presently). In doing so, he illuminates much of the history that has led to the unrest in the area, why the West remains invested, and how much of the current instability has its roots in centuries of intrigue. A vast and fascinating history, well worth the time and a welcome counterpoint to more limited world histories.
My love of reading was sparked in 3rd grade by the promise of personal pan pizzas via the BOOK IT! Program. Hmmmm... any chance that someone might give adults free food for reading? Asking for a friend...