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Publisher's Summary

It was on the Silk Roads that East and West first encountered each other through trade and conquest, leading to the spread of ideas, cultures, and religions, and it was the appetites for foreign goods that drove economies and the growth of nations. From the first cities in Mesopotamia to the emergence of Greece and Rome to the depredations by the Mongols, the transmission of the Black Death, the struggles of the Great Game, and the fall of Communism - the fate of the West has always been inextricably linked to the East.

By way of events as disparate as the American Revolution and the world wars of the 20th century, Peter Frankopan realigns the world, orienting us eastward and illuminating how even the rise of the West 500 years ago resulted from its efforts to gain access to and control of these Eurasian trading networks. In an increasingly globalized planet, where current events in Asia and the Middle East dominate the world's attention, this magnificent work of history is very much a work of our times.

©2016 Peter Frankopan. Published by arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Production copyright 2015 by Audible, Inc. Audible Studios is a division of Audible, Inc. (P)2016 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

Critic Reviews

"What does history look like if we shift our focus eastward and give due prominence to those who traversed the Silk Roads? This is the question Frankopan answers in this immensely entertaining work. Many books have been written which claim to be 'A New History of the World'. This one fully deserves the title.... So ambitious, so detailed and so fascinating... The Silk Roads demonstrates why studying history is so important." [Gerard DeGroot, The Times (UK)]
"It's time we recognized the importance of the East to our history, insists this magnificent study.... The breadth and ambition of this swashbuckling history by Peter Frankopan should come as no surprise.... A book that roves as widely as the geography it describes, encompassing worlds as far removed as those of Herodotus and Saddam Hussein, Hammurabi and Hitler.... It is a tribute to Frankopan's scholarship and mastery of sources in multiple languages that he is as sure-footed on the ancient world as he is on the medieval and modern.... Deftly constructed.... The Silk Roads is a powerful corrective to parochialism." [Justin Marozzi, The Sunday Times (UK)]
"A book of dazzling range, ambition, and achievement." (William Dalrymple)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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What Really Makes the World Go Round

What made the experience of listening to The Silk Roads the most enjoyable?

The wealth of information in this book is enlightening. Anyone who will devote the time to listen to this book once may well have to listen at least once again because the content is so well-researched and so full of cross-cultural background and historical detail.

What did you like best about this story?

The author brings to light aspects of history that are just not taught in schools and universities. The historical web of trade and commerce as the engine of world history is absolutely fascinating.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Laurence Kennedy?

The narrator was problematic for me. In English he is terrific, and I could listen to any strictly English language book from him. Any other language is not his forte. As a fluent speaker of Spanish I was dismayed by the lack of knowledge and terrible mispronunciations throughout the text. The narrator tripped on words inl other languages as well.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The entire concept of The Silk Roads moved me.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Excellent!

I like the new look on the old story and how it is woven from the same information but show different picture. I congratulate Mr. Frankopan on unique perspective on the world and thank him for this wonderful book.

24 of 25 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Western history, but no more

A free-flowing and exciting take on Western history. That said, I was drawn to this book expecting a fresh "Eastern" perspective, and it comes up way short.

From Mesopotamia to the Crusades, Frankopan simply retells familiar stories. Then, as the West grows, he focuses more and more on them, with only courtesy glances back East.

He does take extra time to write about The Great Game, Russia's early attempts imperialism in the Middle East, as well as the 20th century oil-fueled politics that helped lead us to where we are today. However, imagine a history book promoted as this one was, but with a full chapter on the Opium wars, or on Japan's invasion of Manchuria, or on Bangladesh's Liberation War, or on the fall of the Ottoman Empire, anything without the filters of Anglo-America all over it.

For my money, I'd rather give Francis Fukuyama's book, The Origins of Political Order, a read for a decent pre-French-Revolution history of China and India and the Middle East.

83 of 92 people found this review helpful

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Anything east of where you are

Through more than half of the book I was going to give this 1 star. Its title and introduction are all about the Silk Road, but the substance of the first 2/3 is European history with little more than mentions of 3 things that came from the area of the silk road: Mongols, Islam, and the black plague; and their effects on European history. Other areas that get somehow included are western Russia, India, and the spice islands. Maybe India can be included in the silk road narrative, but the other two are stretches. It's not until modern times that the book focuses on the silk road area, and that focus is mainly on the south western portion. That's when the book gets interesting. The focus the is on the importance of the non-soviet silk road nations in the cold war, their oil, and the machinations of western countries to dominate their politics and their resources.

47 of 52 people found this review helpful

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Good content, weird narration

Comprehensive history of everywhere you didn't learn about in school. Author quotes historical figures in strange, B-movie accents. Distracting.

26 of 30 people found this review helpful

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Comprehensive and provocative

Get ready for a long winding journey from ancient to contemporary times. This is a remarkable work that is dense and yet accessible. As I was listening towards the end, I found the book in the Copenhagen airport so I will listen to the book again as well as read particular chapters. He lays out the arrogance of Britain in the. 19th century and the US in the 20th. Much to ponder.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • MDK
  • Philly
  • 10-06-16

Useful for Expanding Your Understanding of World History

The reader does a reasonably good job of using his voice to keep the reader engaged and convey thoughts. I preferred to listen at 1.25 speed because I felt he was reading slightly slower than I would personally prefer, but all around I would give him good marks.

The book itself is a good listen for the purpose of giving you a general framework, but at times the author takes liberty to render his opinions without balancing considerations properly noted. The later chapters will leave a reader that is well educated in Arab history puzzled as to why some details are omitted while others become primary focuses of the author's attention.

It is not meant as a standalone history of the world nor does it claim to be exhaustive in any period in time it covers. You will find it useful to add to your reading of world history. It is of particular benefit to a reader that desires to contextualize the activities of crusaders, Arabs or Steppe peoples in the times between the end of the Western Roman Empire through the Middle Ages.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Points of view

Loved this book. I am always searching for different points of view regarding the development of the world as we experience it now. This book does a good job presenting familiar information from an unfamiliar vantage point. Loved the story. The presentation was OK. It did not stand out especially good or bad.

17 of 20 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars

Last section way too Western-oriented.

The first bits are fine, and great history of a region and era often neglected.
The last chapters are focused exclusively on the West, and the author became mired in wars for oil, to the gross and obvious neglect of the rest of the Silk Road, which I was led to believe was the topic of the book. Silk Road countries and people became bit players in a book purported to reorient the historical narrative.
If this were my only source, I would barely any idea Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, the Crimea, Azerbaijan etc. exist. I certainly know no more about them or their recent history now than I did before.

The narrator was okay, mostly. Mispronouncing key words, names, and places sounds fine in a heavy, theatrical British accent, and is understandable for such a diverse topic, though a few seconds research per unfamiliar term wouldn't have hurt.
But the half-hearted attempts at imitating the accents of quoted historical figures grew comical. The narrator is obviously proud of his Winston Churchill, learned Russian from Rocky and Bullwinkle, tried his best to make Arabs and Persians sound like tacky Hollywood caricatures, but for some reason wouldn't touch Jimmy Carter's genteel Georgia drawl with a ten-foot pole.
His voice was fine by itself; there was no need to go all Charlie Chan and Boris Badinov.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Global History from a refreshing perspective!

This is one an in-depth assessment of the global history from a global perspective which is substantially different from what I've previously been taught.
The assessment of the Middle East is the best that I have seen.
This is one of the most fascinating books I have read and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn what happened and why things are as they are

11 of 13 people found this review helpful