SOCIAL SCIENCES

The Silk Road

A New History
The Silk Road: A New History. Oxford Univ. Aug. 2012. c.320p. illus. index. ISBN 9780195159318. $34.95. HIST
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OrangeReviewStarThe term the Silk Road has always conjured up romantic notions of silks, spices, vast deserts, inhospitable lands, and camel caravans, merchants, and pilgrims traveling between East and South Asia and the Mediterranean world—all of which is valid. Hansen (history, Yale Univ.) examines the Silk Road through further research based on documents left behind by those who lived and died on this ancient cultural superhighway. Organizing the text around the seven Silk Road cities of Niya, Kucha, Turfan, Samarkand, Chang'an, Dunhuang, and Khotan, the author takes the position that the Silk Road was made up of local and small-scale trade, not the large commercial routes that we have come to associate with it. More significant, she writes, its true importance lies in the movement of ideas (especially those of immigrants) as they moved eastward and westward spreading their art, language, religion, and technology.
VERDICT An impressively well-researched book exploring the documentation of many different cultures and people along the many routes known as the Silk Road. Readers of Asian or world history will learn much from and thoroughly enjoy this book.

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