Book Review: Peter Frankopan, The New Silk Roads: The Present and Future of the World

Date01 April 2019
DOI10.1177/0020881719848208
Published date01 April 2019
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews 209
Syrian looking out into the world to a migrant looking into the Syrian society
from outside. She blends in both the West and the West Asia into her narrative,
titling every chapter in Arabic as well as English and filling the pages with
instances of Arabic traditions, popular sayings and cuisines. This is in contrast
with Khaled Hosseini’s Sea Prayer (2018) or Homes (2018) both of which pro-
vide a first-hand account of things from a Syrian viewpoint.
The book is highly relevant in a world contending with issues of migration,
particularly in the context of Europe. Most literature on the European refugee
crisis are confined to reports by news agencies, think tanks and human rights
organizations. This is one of the few full-length books available based on first-
hand knowledge of the crisis. The book is a must read for those trying to under-
stand the human aspect of the Syrian war and Europe’s response to it. It moves
beyond the statistics of deaths and damages and humanizes the conflict, making it
so much more tangible across all geographic distances. It encourages the readers
to think and act to save lives in the hopes of a better world, because even after
death, the cycle of life goes on.
Debanjali Ghosh
Centre for European Studies
School of International Studies
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
E-mail: debanjalig1994@gmail.com
Peter Frankopan, The New Silk Roads: The Present and Future of the World.
London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018, 336 pp., £14.99 (paperback).
DOI: 10.1177/0020881719848208
Assessing the present and the future of the globe through the prism of Silk Road,
the Oxford historian has penned a compelling account of the West and the East.
The two domains do not stand necessarily in contrast to each other, that is, one
would rise at the cost of other is too narrow a conception of the world. He clearly
emphasizes, ‘The sun rising in the east does not mean that it is setting on the west’
(p. 43). Silk Road was not merely a road for transfer of commodities, it was a
route symbolizing interconnectedness, rudimentary globalization which existed
back then and how countries along the Silk Road today are redefining the power
centres which are mostly perceived to be located in the West. It would be falla-
cious to assume that the route passed through compartmentalized regions. Silk
Road cannot be understood as a thread tying distinct regions, and doing just that,
to see it just as a pathway would be to rob the term of its wider connotations.
Frankopan analyses the wider meaning of the term Silk Road, ‘The Silk Roads
allow us to understand the past not as a series of periods and regions that are iso-
lated and distinct, but to see the rhythms of history in which the world has been
connected for millennia as being part of a bigger, inclusive global past’ (p. 3).
Also, it is appropriate to address the route as ‘Silk Roads’, for it was multitude of

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