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 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.
Christopher I. Beckwith is professor of Central Eurasian studies at Indiana University. His other books include "The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia" (Princeton).
Table of Contents
ABBREVIATIONS AND SIGLA xvii
PROLOGUE: The Hero and His Friends 1
CHAPTER 1: The Chariot Warriors 29
CHAPTER 2: The Royal Scythians 58
CHAPTER 3: Between Roman and Chinese Legions 78
CHAPTER 4: The Age of Attila the Hun 93
CHAPTER 5: The Turk Empire 112
CHAPTER 6: The Silk Road, Revolution, and Collapse 140
CHAPTER 7: The Vikings and Cathay 163
CHAPTER 8: Chinggis Khan and the Mongol Conquests 183
CHAPTER 9: Central Eurasians Ride to a European Sea 204
CHAPTER 10: Th e Road Is Closed 232
CHAPTER 11: Eurasia without a Center 263
CHAPTER 12: Central Eurasia Reborn 302
EPILOGUE: The Barbarians 320
APPENDIX A: The Proto- Indo- Europeans and Their Diaspora 363
APPENDIX B: Ancient Central Eurasian Ethnonyms 375
What People are Saying About This
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: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present 4.3 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
More than 1 year ago
This book was almost exactly what I was looking for. If you are interested in this subject, this is a great place to start. HOWEVER, the reason I did not give it 5 stars is it's relative lack of maps. Be sure to get one before reading. Also, when writing such a short book on such a huge subject, the names come fast and furious. be prepared for that. Other than that, absolutely excellent.
More than 1 year ago
I have only begun reading, but it seems very well documented and historically accurate.
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