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SILK ROAD – WHICH ROUTE?

Written by: on October 5, 2017

 

   

This book was similar to a potluck meal or even gumbo. Why do I say that? The author covers so many aspects of history that one could stumble over themselves trying to grasp each one. He covers cultures, trades, economics, technology, religion and more. Each chapter has a specific purpose presenting his view of history – looking at the effect of the Eastern world on history.

Why did he use the term ‘Silk Road?”  In Michael R. Drompp’s review of this book he states, “Frankopan employs the term ‘Silk Roads,’ referring to the routes through which these exchanges occurred and extending his meaning of this term beyond the ‘classic’ Silk Roads that crossed central Eurasia to include an ultimately global network of land and sea routes.”  [1]

As I began determining my plan on how to read this book and understand the author’s purpose, my eyes continually focused on the term ‘Silk Road’. I was curious of the term. As I read this book, I notice that three chapters addressed the term ‘Silk Road’.  Since I was intrigued by this term I began to explore them. The chapters are  The Creation of Silk Road, The American Silk Road, and The New Silk Road.

THE CREATION OF SILK ROAD

Frankopan wrote, “China had opened a door leading to a trans-continental network; it was the moment of the birth of the Silk Roads.” (12)  China trading ambitions were successful, especially with the silk.  Silk is a smooth and shiny material that is Asian inspired. It was used to make clothes, purses, etc. Silk was known to be used as currency in trade.

Per Anthony Sattin, “the silk roads of the title are the arteries along which people, goods, ideas, religions, disease and many other things have flowed. The “silk road” label is relatively recent, coined only in 1877 by the German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen, uncle of the First World War flying ace, the Red Baron.” [2]  He believed that some of Frankopan’s facts were missed regarding the killing of Jews by the Muslims. He believed Frankopan’s facts that, “2,000 years ago, Chinese silks were worn by the Carthaginian elite…the promise of wealth has always been the engine to drive people along the silk roads, other things have been carried along with it,” [3] was true.  The silk road was a route for international trade.

 

THE AMERICAN SILK ROAD

Frankopan spoke on an American Silk Road. America began the move towards excelling in the oil industry by taking over the Anglo-Iranian’s oil well’s and infrastructure. America was challenged by Iran’s stopping exporting oil during the 1950’s, as well as, trying to prevent the oil to be controlled by the Russians. The fight and struggle over control of oil wells covered many years, including the invasion of the United States into the East because of non-supported weapons of mass destruction. Many believed afterward that it was related to the American Oil companies wanting control of the Iran’s oil wells. Frankopan states the United States would not financially support Afghanistan with military weapons and money, but the Soviet Union did. This was, according to Frankopan, the route to bringing the United States and Allied convoy into the country in the 1980’s. (408)

 

THE NEW SILK  ROAD

Frankopan concluded with a narrative on the New Silk Road. He says that “the silk roads are rising again.” (505)  In 2011, The US secretary stated that its time to “set our sights on a new Silk Road.” (504) In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping stated that its time for a ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ to be built.” (504) The US fashion industry is now in the East selling their products. China has re-emerged into the western area because of cheap labor. It has advanced in technology. (500)  The East and West are interchanging in import and export of goods; many religions are in the same countries, outsourcing labor cost, partnering on important world issues, and more.

[1] Michael R. Drompp, “Review: The Silk Roads: A New History of the World, by Peter Frankopan,” Studies in Late Antiquity Vol. 1 No. 2, Summer 2017, pg 100-103, accessed October 4, 2017, http://sla.ucpress.edu/content/1/2/100.

[2] Anthony Sattin, The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan review – a frustrating trail, accessed October 4, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/sep/29/silk-roads-peter-frankopan-review

[3] IBID

About the Author

Lynda Gittens

8 responses to “SILK ROAD – WHICH ROUTE?”

  1. mm Katy Drage Lines says:

    Ahhh, potlucks and gumbo. You’re making my hungry, Lynda. Those are nice metaphors to piece together a vast, detailed history– each piece valuable to enhancing the flavor of the thesis.

  2. Mary Walker says:

    Wow, Lynda! You are absolutely right. It seemed that Frankopan had a huge task to weave so many threads together and still come up with a cohesive narrative of history. I think he mostly pulled it off.
    His Byzantine expertise really shows! Still he was honest about the way that the focus did shift to the west. And I agree that China, and the Middle East are major players now, so it is at least shifting back east.
    But we are studying Global Perspectives. So shouldn’t the emphasis be the whole world?

    • Lynda Gittens says:

      Mary,
      The whole world is more than we can chew. If we begin the significant countries and digest them successfully, the next countries we attempt will be easier to digest.

  3. mm Jennifer Dean-Hill says:

    Well-said Lynda: “This book was similar to a potluck meal or even gumbo.” I had to keep going back to the title and intro to see what this book was even about or its’ main point. It felt like he was weaving together all of history with an abstract silk road concept. It was a bit like wandering a maze never quite sure where I was going to end up or ever get out. It read better when I allowed myself to skip around and read the sections of interest to me. Any improvements you would make in authoring this book?

  4. Jim Sabella says:

    Lynda, You had me at, “potluck meal or even gumbo!” That is a great way to sum up “The Silk Roads.” Great job on the post!

  5. Christal Jenkins Tanks says:

    Lynda I appreciated your summary of the book and drawing out key insights related to specific silk roads indentified by Frankopan.

  6. Kristin Hamilton says:

    This really was a big old gumbo of information, wasn’t it Lynda? I appreciate you narrowing in on these 3 chapters. How do you see the progress of the new silk road impacting the way Americans do missions?

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