Top positive review
25 people found this helpful
A real eye opener
on 24 October 2012
The Silk Road has always been surrounded by a lot of so called history that has made it into something legendary and fascinating but unfortunately far from true. Professor Valerie Hansen has in this book written a new and very captivating story that sets the record straight. After reading this book I have a view of the Silk Road that is very different that I had from just a few days ago.
Professor Hansen use a lot of original and archaeological material. She has also traveled a lot in the area and speaks Chinese. What she presents in this book and in a very logical and pedagogic way is the story of the Silk Road built up piece by piece until we have the full picture. Among the facts that she presents and that at least changes the picture for me is:
- There never was a Silk Road. The Name was invented by a German researcher in 1877. Before that no one used the name "Silk Road"
- There is not one but several "Silk Roads"
- Caravans traveling the The Silk Road were never large. Usually only a few people and a few horses
- Most of the business going on along the road was local and not regional or even international
- China never did trade with the Roman Empire. There has never been found a single Roman coin in China (but a few Byzantine)
There are many more interesting facts. The Book is also filled with interesting personal stories from people traveling the road and it is amazing to read about daily life that even that long ago had great similarities with today. Finally the book is supported by a large number of maps that are an essential tool in the process of understanding the Silk Road.
The only negative thing about the book, and through no fault of Professor Hansen, is that the publisher has made the binding of the book so hard that it is difficult to read the maps in the center of the book without breaking it. It is a minor thing and future releases could easily fix that.
Professor Hansen had produced a truly marvelous piece of work that will probably be the standard for understanding this part of the global history for a long time.