Christopher I. Beckwith
Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present
February 21, 2019 Comments.. 397
Empires of the Silk Road A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present The first complete history of Central Eurasia from ancient times to the present day Empires of the Silk Road represents a fundamental rethinking of the origins history and significance of this majo

  • Title: Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present
  • Author: Christopher I. Beckwith
  • ISBN: 9780691135892
  • Page: 344
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The first complete history of Central Eurasia from ancient times to the present day, Empires of the Silk Road represents a fundamental rethinking of the origins, history, and significance of this major world region Christopher Beckwith describes the rise and fall of the great Central Eurasian empires, including those of the Scythians, Attila the Hun, the Turks and TibetThe first complete history of Central Eurasia from ancient times to the present day, Empires of the Silk Road represents a fundamental rethinking of the origins, history, and significance of this major world region Christopher Beckwith describes the rise and fall of the great Central Eurasian empires, including those of the Scythians, Attila the Hun, the Turks and Tibetans, and Genghis Khan and the Mongols In addition, he explains why the heartland of Central Eurasia led the world economically, scientifically, and artistically for many centuries despite invasions by Persians, Greeks, Arabs, Chinese, and others In retelling the story of the Old World from the perspective of Central Eurasia, Beckwith provides a new understanding of the internal and external dynamics of the Central Eurasian states and shows how their people repeatedly revolutionized Eurasian civilization Beckwith recounts the Indo Europeans migration out of Central Eurasia, their mixture with local peoples, and the resulting development of the Graeco Roman, Persian, Indian, and Chinese civilizations he details the basis for the thriving economy of premodern Central Eurasia, the economy s disintegration following the region s partition by the Chinese and Russians in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the damaging of Central Eurasian culture by Modernism and he discusses the significance for world history of the partial reemergence of Central Eurasian nations after the collapse of the Soviet Union Empires of the Silk Road places Central Eurasia within a world historical framework and demonstrates why the region is central to understanding the history of civilization.

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    1 Blog on “Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present

    1. Steve says:

      A physical map of most of EurasiaThis book is simply enormous in scope! (And so, unhappily, is this damn review. For that reason portions of the review are labeled as "spoiler" to be opened by the really curious.)In Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia From the Bronze Age to the Present (2009) Christopher I. Beckwith provides a kind of history of most of the region represented by the above map from the Bronze Age to the present ! This impossible task is made (barely) manageable [...]

    2. Joseph says:

      I can’t remember what led me to this book. I often read history, but not generally sweeping histories like this, which generally sacrifice depth for breadth. All I know is that I picked it up and found myself hooked from the Preface on. Beckwith has a magisterial command of his material and moves easily from bird’s-eye to ground-level views without losing track of the broader story. He also offers up, here and there, amazing comments on the languages used in the cultures he’s discussing, w [...]

    3. Adam Calhoun says:

      Although interesting at times, this book is not quite what it sets itself out to be. Rather than a history of Central Eurasia per se, it is actually a history of ALL of Eurasia, with a slight focus on the central bit, spanning the bronze age to the present. If that seems rather broad, well, it is. Beckwith does a good job laying out the importance of Central Eurasia to world history, and I definitely came away with a better understanding of the region and its connections to the rest of the globe [...]

    4. Omar Ali says:

      Great Book. I wont bother with a review because Razib wrote a very good one in 2009. See it here: gnxp/blog/2009/09/whosI learned more new things than i learn in most 500 page books. The writing is occasionally clunky and you have to stop and figure out where you are sometimes, but there is just so much information packed into it! It ends with a long angry screed against modernism. Wow. This man is upset! but the book makes you rethink many lazy assumptions and makes you want to read much more. [...]

    5. Rindis says:

      Late last year, I picked this book up, as it looked very interesting.And it is, I highly recommend it as an extremely well done history of a part of the world that most people just don't know about from pre-history to the current date.But—this book is not for the faint of heart. If you want some light informative reading, you will find the book overwhelming.This especially holds true in the prologue and first two chapters of the book, where the footnotes and endnote references fly thick and fu [...]

    6. Lee Broderick says:

      I had the good fortune to discuss this book with one of the author's colleagues while I was reading it. He informed me of two criticisms commonly levelled at it: the first is that it is over-reliant on the Chinese sources when, thanks to the author's command of several other languages, there is no need for it to be. I would not have known that without our conversation. The second common criticism was immediately apparent to me: a complete failure to include any archaeological evidence (of which [...]

    7. Larrycarlin says:

      This is an excellent history, not just another retelling. The focus is on the history of the peoples of Central Eurasia and their interaction with the "peripheral" countries such as China and France. The story starts far back in early prehistoric times with the proto-indo-europeans and comes up to the 21st century. And it's clear that Beckwith sees the large picture.That said, there is a strange interlude, near the end, trashing Modernism. It's strange for several reasons. First, it's only losel [...]

    8. Bryn Hammond says:

      Time for a re-read of this extraordinary and controversial book. Given its World History range, I imagine the arguments that tie it together are more digestible the second time. Perhaps even the ill-reputed chapter on Modernism can be seen to fit in.I still think it underadvertised by the commonplace title.

    9. Katia N says:

      Firstly I need to say that i am not a professional historian. I have a great interest in this region simply because it constitutes a gap in my understanding of the history of the world. Also there are not many books available in english to fill it. This region is often treated as a part of Middle East, which creates additional problems for any person intrested to know more about. Therefore this review is written from the perspective a curious reader not weathered professional historian.I was dri [...]

    10. Edith says:

      As a revisionist work, the author seeks to deconstruct the notion of the "barbarian” and extant theories on nomadic versus settled agriculturalist societies relationships that had been passed down to us. We are products of the settled agriculturalists societies, as are most of our write sources about the past, but might it be that it’s time to critically examine these biases when it comes to studying pastoralist societies, especially those from Central Eurasia that had so often reshaped the [...]

    11. Scott says:

      Beckwith's book was recommended by a friend to give me a context for understanding the cultures from which early Tibet emerged. Beckwith touches on Tibet, but it really was refreshing to experience his sweeping perspective.Although I did not read all the way through to the chapters on more-recent history (which several people found not as good as the early chapters), I came away with a new sense that Eurasia is a much-more unified ancient culture than I'd previously been aware. Although the "civ [...]

    12. Robin Tell-Drake says:

      Well, I've read the preface, and it's clear the author is a bit of a prat. I've seen a few reviews around that warned of this. I'm reading it on a Kindle, which is a bit of an experiment--this is a hand-me-down first edition Kindle with a bum scroll wheel, so it's prohibitively difficult to skip in and out of footnotes. Also, the Kindle makes it a pain to skip over things like the preface. Or the bloody acknowledgements. But maybe it's just as well I read the preface.Mr. Beckwith talks about him [...]

    13. Simon Jones says:

      A book of two halves this one in terms of both content and quality. The first half is a narrative history of Eurasia, with a focus on central Eurasia, heartland of the Silk Road. This was excellent, in particular the early chapters dealing with the Indo-European migrations. The second half of the book which discusses the rise and fall of the Silk Road empires and the reasons for their demise suffers a little from an excess of bias which presents them largely as victims and on occasion the author [...]

    14. Lisa says:

      There was a great deal more slogging through names and dates than I had expected, but the random insights in his analyses of the various eras and groups were worth the effort. The final chapter on the "myth" of the barbarian was worth the price of the book itself.

    15. Joshua Buhs says:

      Strange, for good and ill.As the subtitle has it, Beckwith wants to present a story of Central Eurasia since the beginning of history. That's a lot to do in less than 400 pages (if you take out the appendices, back matter, and account for their being three different versions of introductions: preface, introduction, and prologue.) It's a very interesting way to take a bite out of history.Central Eurasia, as he defines it, has shifting boundaries, but might be thought of as everything from Central [...]

    16. Michelle Casey says:

      This is NOT for a general audience! I couldn't finish this book because there were so much academic jargon I did not understand in it. I feel like I would have really enjoyed the information contained in this book if I could have deciphered it. This book may be for you if you have a bachelor's or advanced degree in a humanities field. Not for everybody.

    17. Chumofchance says:

      One of the best books on the subject in scope, breadth, detail, and familiarity. But Beckwith has more axes to grind than Morrissey, and chooses to not shut up about them all too frequently.

    18. Geoff says:

      I was very excited when I saw this book at the bookstore, as central Asia is a region I know little about and have for some time thought I should study more. I was hoping for a work targeted to a general audience. This was not that; it seems to fall somewhere between popular and scholarly writing, which made it accessible but mildly challenging for me to read. A few maps would have gone a long way for me, and a bit of context for understanding who some of the lesser-known (to nonspecialists) his [...]

    19. Chuck says:

      Christopher I. Beckwith 's "Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present" is a history (and more) of the peoples of the Eurasian Steppe from the beginnings of recorded history until the present day. A not insignificant effort considering it attempts to cover an area 5000 miles in longitude and perhaps 500 miles in latitude, over perhaps 6000 years.Most histories that discuss people's of the Eurasian Steppe do so in the context of one of the countries [...]

    20. Ashley Cunningham says:

      Central Eurasia is a tricky topic of study given its complex history and peoples. While this book offered some clarification on the topic, in other areas it only muddled it further.Beckwith spends an entire chapter on an specific time period, where he jumps from the west (which could include Europe) all the way to the east as far as Korea. The issue here is that he jumps around quite a bit and sometimes doesn't include the outer fringes like Europe and Korea while other times he does. It doesn't [...]

    21. Pei-jean Lu says:

      Since I can't actually give half stars for anything I had to give this 3, but in truth I felt it only warrants 2 and a half stars. While I felt it had promise at the start and towards the end, my issue with this book has to do with some of the parts that left me very confused. While I do believe that the Soviet occupation definitely had an impact on the countries along the path of the Silk Road it's mention of modern European painters and composers that really left me wondering what was going on [...]

    22. Joe Q. says:

      In "Empires of the Silk Road", the author's stated goal is to present a history of Central Eurasia on its own terms, avoiding the bigoted European, Roman, Persian, or Chinese-centric approaches of other historians. So far as I can tell, he does this very well, making a strong case for his approach. One comes away with an appreciation for the nature and significance of the Central Eurasian empires over the course of history.This book is quite scholarly, and people like me, who are interested in h [...]

    23. Paritosh says:

      It seemed to me that this is primarily an academic book and is presented as such. However, even as a layman, I so found it very interesting. For example, to note the links and similarities between different peoples from Europe to Japan. Globalisation has been around for a long time just working at a different pace. I guess we kinda one that all along, but now the book shows how. Other interesting concept presented is the emergence of colonialism. When excluded from commerce by local merchants an [...]

    24. Shalom says:

      I would have given this four stars (I reserve five for extraordinary works) if not for the weird 30 page diatribe against modernism taword the end which was so out there and not connected that I began to question all else that was written. Besides for that however it was an interesting broad history which attempts to pull central asia from the periphery of know empires and place it at the center of well asia. The author seemed a little too apologetic for the central asians and too demonizing of [...]

    25. Les says:

      An interesting idea but some major flaws undercut what could have been a compelling argument. Beckwith tries to turn world history on its head by arguing that far from being marginal outsiders swooping down from the steppe, the Silk Road empires played a critical role in world history, which should be viewed from their perspective. A provocative argument and well crafted regarding the use of the loaded term "barbarian" to describe these complex societies which included a mix of nomads, city dwel [...]

    26. Helen says:

      A good book reviewing (in short) the history of all kinds of societies located between Danube and China, starting from 2,000 BCE.What is unusual, he treats people of this vast region with respect, as human beings equal to living in any other part of the planet - appreciate that.I was looking for a book starting with much earlier period, but found this one and expected, judging by the title, more southern coverage. Glad that it was more encyclopedic. But again, I was looking for forces shaping so [...]

    27. Phillip says:

      JANUARY4. Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present byChristopher I. BeckwithJANUARYFinished January 2015Genre: Central Asian HistoryRating: C-Review: First part of book is very difficult to read. Maps would help track catalog of clans, battles, etc. Strong opinionated end. Basically argues that modern society is corrupt and continues to unjustly misinterpret and neglect giving Central Asia greatness its due

    28. JW says:

      I'm so far out of the intended audience for this book that I'm not going to rate it. I found out about it in the NY Times books section and I was immediately intrigued, Central Asia is not a part of the world I understand very well but one I've always been intensely curious about. This book is not a primer for those exploring the area. That's taking a dilettante knife to a scholarly assault rifle fight. It assumes you've got a level of prerequisite knowledge in the presently accepted history of [...]

    29. Paul says:

      I picked this book up at the library figuring I'd just read the parts I was immediately interested in (the history of the early steppe peoples), but to my surprise I found myself reading the entire thing. This isn't exactly a straightforward narrative history of the region - or maybe it's more accurate to say that the author doesn't fill in all the gaps for a nonspecialist like me. No matter: I came away from the book with a much improved sense of the history of Central Eurasia, which is more th [...]

    30. Michelle says:

      This is more like two books, stitched together. The first 230 pages read more like an annotated bibliography, with a long list of facts from historical sources put together chronologically and regionally, with little attempt at conclusion drawing, other than to argue that all Eurasian peoples shared the same cultural complex, as demonstrated by founding myths and comitatus. Then everything goes off the rails, and for the remainder of the book, the author shuns facts in exchange for professional [...]

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