Book Summary: The Silk Roads

Title: The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
Author: Peter Frankopan
Genre: History
Release Date: 2015


Why did you choose to read this particular book?

What peaks your interest? What is the book about? What does it promise to deliver?

I’ve done some reading on early civilizations and the history of the world. I was in WH Smith, and I noticed the book was sitting under the number 1 bestseller, so I opened it up and looked over the first few pages. It was a combination of fiction and non-fiction, the author’s choice of descriptive words did a wonderful job of placing the reader in the ancient world. I don’t have the creativity to read fiction work, this easily transported me back. I immediately bought it!

Summary of book

This book begins at the very beginning of civilisation and trade and works its way through conquest, religion, new ideas, and trade, examining how each of these influenced the development of the world and the silk route.

The Silk Roads are the trade routes that have been used throughout history to transport commodities and ideas. They were located between what is now Turkey and China for a significant portion of time. In our day and age, they have become globalised as a result of instant communication, online transactions, and extreme affluence in a number of countries.

The chapters are as follows:

  • Chapter 1: The Creation of the Silk Road – The beginning
  • Chapter 2: The Road of Faiths – Introducing religion
  • Chapter 3: The Road to a Christian East – Religious empire breaks up
  • Chapter 4: The Road to Revolution – Hostility in Romans, Persia and Arab’s
  • Chapter 5: The Road to Concord – Islamic expansion
  • Chapter 6: The Road of Furs- Intro of the Steppes and trading textiles
  • Chapter 7: The Slave Road – Slaves and further turmoil in the middle east
  • Chapter 8: The Road to Heaven – First Crusade
  • Chapter 9: The Road to Hell – Mongols
  • Chapter 10: The Road of Death and Destruction – Russia enters the chat
  • Chapter 11: The Road of Gold – Americas discovered
  • Chapter 12: The Road of Silver – Europe expansion
  • Chapter 13: The Road to Northern Europe – The English rise
  • Chapter 14: The Road to Empire – British Empire
  • Chapter 15: The Road to Crisis – American revolt
  • Chapter 16: The Road to War – European wars
  • Chapter 17: The Road of Black Gold – Discovery of oil
  • Chapter 18: The Road to Compromise – Empire collapse and borders created
  • Chapter 19: The Wheat Road – WW2
  • Chapter 20: The Road to Genocide – WW2
  • Chapter 21: The Road of Cold Warfare – Cold War
  • Chapter 22: The American Silk Road – American centric world
  • Chapter 23: The Road of Superpower Rivalry – Establishing the true super powers
  • Chapter 24: The Road to Catastrophe – US, Russia and Iran
  • Chapter 25: The Road to Tragedy – Saddam, Taliban and Osama
  • Conclusion: The New Silk Road

What stood out for you

There are other moments in which the author demonstrates apparent impartiality about the emphasising of the facts, such as the behaviour of the west when they went to the Americas and how Britain actually grew. He does not force an Eurocentric outlook. The Middle East was a paradise in comparison to the hellish conditions that prevailed in Europe. I like that he recognises that the primary concern in man is maintaining one’s own life, family and society so his seeks to dominate the primary area of concentration. This is why many countries desire Turkey, Egypt, and Iran in their arsenal. They are strategically perfect.

Key Points

One of the most important things that I’ve learned is that destruction can sometimes give rise to a more advanced civilization. After the horrific Black Death, which affected the vast majority of the known world, there was a period of renaissance, and it is because of this renaissance that we are in the position that we are today. A purge was necessary in this situation. Some contemporary instances are how Germany and Japan were both devastated, but now they are among the most efficient economies and have among the best products and engineering in the world. Both of them had a fresh start without losing key components of growth, like infrastructure and visionaries.

What do schools in the West teach? Although it is commonly believed that Christopher Columbus was the one who found America, we now know that this is not the case. To begin, there was already a civilization there, and secondly, we have writings by Muslims who were aware of such areas. However, Columbus did discover the wealth of America. It was no longer necessary for the Europeans to negotiate with those in the middle east. They possessed their own gold, sugar, wheat, and other commodities. Because of Columbus’s discovery, the geographic centre of gravity changed from central Asia to central America, and the effects of this movement can still be felt to this day.

What you dislike

While it comes to the history of modern day terrorism, the author merely follows the mainstream narrative without properly scrutinising the role of the CIA with the Taliban in the 1980s, etc., or events surrounding the world wars.


Many useful illustrations and maps

Has the book met its objective?


What would you change

Even though the events that took place in central Africa, central America, south east Asia, and Australia during the early periods may not have had direct connections to the silk road, the author could have spent some time reminding us of what was going on in those regions in order to construct a more complete picture.

What type of reader would enjoy this book

Anyone new to history. Peter has made an effort to present an objective and balanced account of the events that took place and cites an impressive bibliography. After having read a significant number of books, you might find that some of the ideas I said no longer hold water for you, not because they are a false narrative but because there is simply too much detail surrounding every event, that the book can’t always cover or capture.

Would you recommend this book

Yes, I would suggest it to anyone who is interested in comprehending how we got to the current economic state that we are in.

Final Verdict:

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