Frankopan’s The Silk Roads: A New History of the World links ancient Greece and Rome to what we now call the Middle East (perhaps more accurately the Near East). After that, Frankopan locates the geographical and historical strategic epicenter of the globe somewhere between the Middle East and Central Asia. These two areas were linked by the Persian Empires (currently Iran), who desired both access to and control of this inherent interconnection of trade routes. Frankopan highlights in the fifteenth century how discoveries from the Portuguese and the Spanish in Africa and (South) America, tipped and changed the balance of power dramatically. From this historic point forward, northern Europeans (and by extension the US Americans in the west) developed the rationale of viewing themselves as heirs of Greece and Rome. This way, Frankopan contends and criticizes eurocentrism as a result of the “spoils of war” throughout his limited “New History of the World.” The author continues to drive home the main idea of his book that the center of Eurasia will regain its former status as the true geopolitical epicenter of the world again.
Frankopan’s central argument is that The Silk Roads are rising again, and the rest of the world needs to recognize their re-emergence quickly. That is, the rest of the world (especially the United States in the west and Europe in the north) should invest strategic resources to build relations with peoples and cultures they have historically spent little or no time trying to understand.
The central argument of this book caught my attention relative to history and cartography. That is, if you think your homeland is preeminent to global history, you tend to believe your motherland, culture, and language are central to the worldwide community. I wonder how the centrality of the United States in both world history and global maps is connected? Perhaps this can best be portrayed graphically.
The Mercator Projection was designed by its creator to make calculations of sea navigation charts easier and consistent. On a Mercator projection, for example, the landmass of Greenland appears to be larger than that of the continent of South America; in the actual area, Greenland is smaller than the Arabian Peninsula. Unfortunately, it’s distortions of landmass and scale have influenced students for generations. How often is our internal “map” of other places affected by erroneous perspective and scaling errors?
The AuthaGraph map provides a more accurate representation of the distances between continents. No longer does Africa look the same size as North America, or Antarctica looks like one of the biggest continents (it’s smaller than all except for Europe and Australia). As we compare the two maps, how are our geographical perspectives challenged? How do scale and perspective influence our assumptions of relative size, importance, and centrality?
Frankopan’s central argument relative to historical geopolitical epicenters and map perspectives and scales prompts me to think about (wait for it) – coaching! Coaching strives to draw out and help clients or coachees process their thoughts, develop action steps for their plans, and follow-up on progress towards goal accomplishment. That is for those who want to get somewhere and don’t know how coaching is an excellent tool and construct.
However, another prime candidate for coaching is those who are stuck and want to become unstuck to move forward. Often the epiphany moment of the coaching relationship is gaining a new perspective along with associated clarity. This new perspective and clarity are the “lightbulb” or “aha” moment.
Once I recognize this is the essential work of the coaching session, I strive to ask clients questions that will cause them to “relocate” to a new “temporary” perspective to view their current immovable position “differently.” Inevitably, clarity will come if they can and will consider their current reality from another angle. I never cease to be amazed by how we can view the same situation from another perspective with the Spirit’s help and experience new-found hope and faith.
My coaching background has fueled my desire to study with and learn from all who typically have very different perspectives from my own. While initially, my view may be challenged/jolted (much like looking at a new map designed from a very different creative premise) and I am very uncomfortable, giving the Holy Spirit time and space to work on my positional perspective always results in new clarity and new insight.
SANMARTÍ, Marçal. “Ressenya: The Silk Roads: A new history of the world/Peter Frankopan (2015).” Entremons: UPF Journal of World History 9 (2017): 154-157.
 Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (New York, NY: Vintage Books, 2017), 505.