- Hardcover: 504 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press; First Edition (1st printing) edition (April 5, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0691135894
- ISBN-13: 978-0691135892
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 43 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #243,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present First Edition (1st printing) Edition
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Christopher I. Beckwith, professor of Central Eurasian studies at Indiana University, suggests in his recent book, Empires of the Silk Road (Princeton University Press), that 'the most crucial element' of societies all through Central Eurasia--including the ones analyzed by this exhibition--was the 'sociopolitical-religious ideal of the heroic lord' and of a 'war band of his friends' that was attached to him and 'sworn to defend him to the death.' This idea, he suggests, affected the organization of early Islam as well as the structure of Tibetan Buddhist devotion. In fact, this 'shared political ideology across Eurasia,' Mr. Beckwith suggests, 'ensured nearly constant warfare.' The region's history is a history of competing empires; trade became part of what was later called the Great Game.
(Edward Rothstein New York Times )
[T]his is no mere survey. Beckwith systematically demolishes the almost universal presumption that the peoples and powers of Inner Asia were typically predatory raiders, and thus supplied themselves by extracting loot and tribute from more settled populations. . . . With his work, there is finally a fitting counterpart to Peter B. Golden's magnificently comprehensive An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples: Ethnogenesis and State Formation in Medieval and Early Modern Eurasia and the Middle East, based on Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Greek, Latin, and European medieval sources. By reading just two books anyone can now sort out Charlemagne's Avar Ring, the Golden Horde, modern Kazakhs and Uzbeks, ancient Scyths, Borodin's Polovtsian dances (they were Cumans), present-day Turks, Seljuks, Ottomans, early Turks, and Bulghars and Bulgarians, among many less familiar states or nations.
(Edward Luttwak New Republic )
In the process of illuminating this essential piece of the human past, Beckwith constructs a scrupulously researched narrative that is wholly accessible, and demands close attention.
(Nicholas Basbanes FineBooksMagazine.com )
From the Back Cover
"Empires of the Silk Road is a major scholarly achievement. This is the first book to provide a comprehensive account of the history of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the present. But it is much more than a simple narrative of events in what is arguably the most important region for the development of civilization during the past four or five millennia. It is an intellectually ambitious undertaking that attempts to account for essential transformations in the cultural, economic, and political life of societies situated both within the Central Eurasian heartland and on its periphery. Beckwith achieves the radical feat of demonstrating how Central Eurasia is actually key for understanding the dynamics of human history and progress throughout antiquity, the medieval period, and the recent past. Above all, and for the first time, he convincingly shows that Central Eurasia was not a sump of poverty-stricken, unremittingly vicious subhumans, but a wellspring of vibrant, energetic, resourceful, enterprising peoples who facilitated communication and change in all directions. In other words, Beckwith turns conventional wisdom on its head and makes Central Eurasia the core of human history, rather than the embarrassing backwater which it is usually portrayed as. Perhaps his greatest contribution is in the powerful, sustained epilogue, where he shatters a whole galaxy of misconceptions about the dreaded 'barbarians.'"--Victor H. Mair, University of Pennsylvania
"Ambitious, provocative, and bristling with new ideas, Empires of the Silk Road will set off sparks. The book's clearly articulated themes are lively and stimulating, and Beckwith's integration of European, Central Asian, and East Asian materials makes this a major work in Eurasian and world history. In range and depth, this readable book is quite unlike any other."--Peter B. Golden, Rutgers University
"Empires of the Silk Road is a major scholarly achievement. . . . Beckwith turns conventional wisdom on its head and makes Central Eurasia the core of human history, rather than the embarrassing backwater which it is usually portrayed as."--Victor H. Mair, University of Pennsylvania
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Top customer reviews
R. P. Farrow
The details I was interested in did occasionally crop up, but the economics of the Road were not the theme. A lot of my past views, from other reading , got hit in the face with new perspectives which for me was the best thing about the book. I've travelled in China, visited the Wall, and read the standard histories. Seeing it from the perspective of the "nomads" was great. And his argument that the steppe societies were not more cruel or destructive than Romans or Chinese rings true. The Huns or Mongols just did not get to write the books. Still, many readers will feel that things get glossed over. I have read elsewhere that the Mongol invasions put an end to the glittering Central Asian civilization. Is this true?
I started in High School with Harold Lamb's biographies of Ghengis Kahn and Tamerlane. The field has come a long way...
Great because it is the first I have read that puts Central Asia and its wealth-generating trade at the centre of the human story rather than the edge. Viewed from this centre, Central Asia deserves to be better understood and its pivotal role discussed. A book like this with its grand sweep of history is all the more needed given Societ/Chinese attempts to smother Central Asian culture. It shines light on numerous eras and empires and peoples absent from most 'histories of the silk road', a concept so limited it does not do the region justice. The road's 'intra-regional' role is well demonstrated.
Flawed because there is too much too superficially discussed in this book, and a few wild ideas thrown in which only distract from the central idea.
Most recent customer reviews
One on the economic history of central Eurasia where Beckwith argues against the common perception of the steppe "Mounted Barbarian Warrior"...Read more
There, having got that out of the way, this book is not without its strengths. Dr.Read more