For the last couple of weeks I have been listening to The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan on Audible. It is a fascinating 'reassessment of world history' as the blurb says.
Frankopan starts with the idea that centuries ago, maps of the known world centred on places like Constantinople and even further East. I am now about half way through and it has been so amazing to hear about places like Kabul, Baghdad and Palmyra in such a different context to what we are used to in our century. Such rich histories and civilisations. I knew, of course, these places had incredible stories from way back but it is hard to imagine when all you see and hear most days in relation to them is destruction. My own grandfather used to work in places like Baghdad and Beirut and that was only in the twentieth century but it seems unimaginable when you see how things are today. And I was never given the opportunity to study them before.
There are many aspects of The Silk Roads which I could discuss in relation to the themes of this blog. For example, it has given me some idea of the movement of peoples in Asia and shown me why my DNA test has traces of Afghanistan and Tibet in its 22% Asian.
It also ties in very much with modern day politics. I have written quite a few times about how we are none of us pure 'Anglo' and how immigration and people movements are not a modern phenomenon nor should they be feared. The main events our politicians reference are really very recent in comparison to the history of the world. The millennial-old patterns shown in The Silk Roads are simply being continued today. It is tactics and technology that have changed.
And as for Britain, the battle since the Second World War to maintain our 'place in the world', our space at the 'top table' as our press refer to it, seems a minor blip when you consider that the first proper maps of the world barely acknowledged our existence. And Seventy years of European co-operation is nothing when seen alongside Frankopan's assessment of historical trends.
I am really looking forward to hearing the second half of the book and I really recommend you give it a try if you would like to try to better understand the times through which we are living at the moment. It is a very accessible account of a period and of places which I feel are very much neglected in our education system. Our children need more understanding of the history of the world as a whole, rather than 'Tudors', 'Victorians', etc. if peace is every to come again.