(4 / 5) The Silk Roads: A New History of the World – Peter Frankopan
I picked up this book on a whim because the cover is gorgeous and I love history and especially history from a ‘new’ perspective (not the standard Western-savior point-of-view most American children are taught in school) and I spent time studying in Egypt and have a particular love for the people and history of the Middle East. After reading the ‘Introduction’ written by the author, Peter Frankopan, I was thrilled and excited to have found a book that would tell the ancient and varied history of the Silk Road and its essential place in world history!
I read the first 2/3 of this book at lightning speed, it was exactly what I wanted. A new and expansive understanding of the pivotal role the Silk Road and the Middle East played in world events in the ancient world and the years known as the Middle Ages from a Western perspective. Frankopan spoke not only to political history (war, rulers, economy, goods, etc.) but also to the essential role that the cultures of the Middle East played in the formation of many religious traditions and the influence of those traditions through the history of the Silk Road.
However, the final 1/3 of the book took me another two months to finish as Frankopan, unfortunately, fell into the European/American/Western perspective and understanding of the Middle East which was a huge disappointment. To be fair, I am much more interested in ancient history than modern history so that also could have contributed to my reluctance to finish the final 1/3 of this book as it covered the time period of approx. 1800-present and primarily focused on the political history of Europe and America in the Middle East.
While I am not frustrated that I read this book, I would have been much happier if it had either ended at 1800 or Frankopan had figured out a way to continue telling the story of the Middle East and the Silk Road from a non-western point-of-view. I absolutely adored his introduction and the mission he set out upon, however, by the end he had diverged from his original intention and fell into the same trap he warned us about at the beginning of his book.
Read on my friends!
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