Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present

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Princeton University Press, Mar 16, 2009 - History - 472 pages
20 Reviews

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.


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Review: Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present

User Review  - Nancy - Goodreads

There's obviously a lot of scholarship behind this book, but I don't think it's presented well. The other makes a few very interesting points, but too often the narrative declines into a laundry list of this guy overthrowing that guy. Also, the book would greatly benefit from some maps. Read full review

Review: Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present

User Review  - Simon Jones - Goodreads

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 ... Read full review


The Hero and His Friends
The Chariot Warriors
Between Roman and Chinese Legions
The Age of Attila the Hun
The Silk Road Revolution and Collapse
The Vikings and Cathay
Chinggis Khan and the Mongol Conquests
Central Eurasians Ride to a European Sea
The Road Is Closed
Eurasia without a Center
The ProtoIndoEuropeans and Their Diaspora
Ancient Central Eurasian Ethnonyms

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About the author (2009)

Christopher I. Beckwith is professor of Central Eurasian studies at Indiana University. His other books include "The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia" (Princeton).

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