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The Silk Roads

A New History of the World
Written by: Peter Frankopan
Narrated by: Laurence Kennedy
Length: 24 hrs and 14 mins
Categories: History, World
4.5 out of 5 stars (49 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The sun is setting on the Western world. Slowly but surely, the direction in which the world spins has reversed: where for the last five centuries the globe turned westward on its axis, it now turns to the east.... For centuries fame and fortune were to be found in the West - in the New World of the Americas. Today it is the East that calls out to those in search of adventure and riches. The region stretching from Eastern Europe and sweeping right across Central Asia, deep into China and India, is taking center stage in international politics, commerce, and culture - and is shaping the modern world. This region, the true center of the Earth, is obscure to many in the English-speaking world. Yet this is where civilization itself began, where the world's great religions were born and took root. The Silk Roads were no exotic series of connections but networks that linked continents and oceans together. Along them flowed ideas, goods, disease, and death. This was where empires were won - and where they were lost. As a new era emerges, the patterns of exchange are mirroring those that have criss-crossed Asia for millennia. The Silk Roads are rising again. A major reassessment of world history, The Silk Roads is an important account of the forces that have shaped the global economy and the political renaissance in the reemerging East.

©2015 Peter Frankopan (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about The Silk Roads

Average Customer Ratings
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

A poor read with a lot of distortion of fact

Factual errors and pronunciation have been thrown to the wind ... I stopped when the author makes a confused reference to the Mahabharata instead of the Ramayana

3 people found this helpful

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loses plot midway

Starts well, formulates the perfect basis for the history of silk road, stays true to the course till 1900s, loses plot completely after that. Turns into a highly biased political view instead of explaining the recent and current silk roads. Disappointed.

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Everything about evolution of trade

This book encompasses everything there is in history about the evolution of trade; also, evolution of religion, relations between religions, and the world politics of the ancient and modern worlds since the beginning of all commerce.

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A must read

For anyone who wants to understand the dynamics of the current world, this boon is a treasure trove.

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great book, poor narration

Great book on world history but narration skips first few words on almost each line. I just picked up the book as the audible narration was unclear and frustrating.

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Economic History of the world .

Very lucid narration of the economic history of the world , extremely logical and insightful. One of the best book on this subject I came across

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A journey into history!!

A very well written account of world history documenting changing centers of the world over last 3000+ years. Things get very interesting when you try to decode parallelly running actions and events and their interdependence. In the second half the author has covered middle eastern region in depth. But would have loved had he covered the emergence of developing countries like BRICS in the world economic scenario.

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WONDERFULLY ENLIGHTENING

Wonderful book explaining lot of things that has happened or is happening in the world now. Beautifully read. A rare good book indeed.

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Best history book ever

Gives a very good chronological flow of the historical events in a non biased version. Wish this was my history text book during school days.

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  • Warren
  • 13-03-16

Amazing insight

Best book I have read with the last chapter pulling it all together. This book is a detailed look into the past that has a striking relevance to today.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-11-18

Redefining the Silk Roads story

I really thoroughly enjoyed this book - especially the last few chapters concerning WW 2 and the creation of Iraq/Iran. The author touches on aspects of WW 1 and WW 2 that I was not even aware of and throws new light on many aspects of modern history that tie themselves all the way back to the creation of the original Silk Routes. The author highlights the scale of involvement and interference of the British, the French, the Russians and the Americans in the affairs of the Middle East and surrounding areas which is staggering in its scale of treachery and deceit. And at the heart of all of it - the quest for oil, wheat and more oil.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Sean
  • 27-04-19

Fascinating new perspective

Virtually a total revision of conventional wisdom on the extent of trade and globalization prior to the European age of exploration

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Joshua Smith
  • 21-09-18

great history book, with a grand vision.

Amazing book, with a grand vision, however conclusions at time seem to skim on details.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 14-09-18

Read this! Especially Americans.

At first this seems like a re-telling of largely known facts on global history, however, Franko pan weaves a brilliantly evocative and detailed tapestry of the Middle East and Central Asia from the "Dark Ages" to modern times. The role of the UK and USA in modern times in this region is eye opening and essential reading for anyone who wants to understand global politics and recent history.

1 person found this helpful

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  • MICHAEL LYONS
  • 22-07-18

Should be compulsory reading for all school students

As a history livery I found this a Fantastic book, content and narration superb, highly recommend

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jorge Alegria F
  • 04-06-18

very good reading and listening of a great book

Easy and interesting listening of a great book. connection between chapters makes the listening very enjoyable

1 person found this helpful

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  • Rosane
  • 21-07-20

Shame about the narration

I was looking forward to hearing this book but I never got through it as the narration was driving me crazy. Mr Laurence has a pleasant voice but chops sentences up with pauses that make it sound like he's finished. Then he continues on and you've got to piece the next bit to what you've already heard. He does this 3 or 4 times in a sentence making it exhausting to listen to. I gave up 1/3 of the way through. Where's Anton Lesser when you need him!?

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  • Carsten Korch
  • 19-06-20

An amazing book that just opens your mind to the history around the Silk Road

This without any doubt one of the best history books I’ve ever read and the performance by Laurence Kennedy for this audio book is THE best. I wish all my history books were read by him and I’ll try to look for more books in which he performance. This book is a must read/listen. Enjoy!

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  • Bill Mak
  • 17-03-20

Insightful and enjoyable

The broad historical narrative attempts to connect many disparate events from the perspective of the Near East and Central Asia. Some connections are more convincing than others and overall Frankopan did produce many insights on the parts of world that had been given too little attention. The reading by Kennedy is enjoyable though his pronunciation of foreign names could be atrocious such as Matteo Ricci as Matteo Ricky and Zheng He as Zheng ‘Hee’.

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  • Paul
  • 29-08-17

Poor reading.

I don't know what limitations are placed on the reader or whether enough time is allowed for proper preparation but the recording is peppered throughout with poor text interpretation. It is as though no prep has been carried out; phrasing and inflection is misplaced as though the reader has been taken by surprise with each emerging clause. The narrative is marred by this, however competent the writer may be.

97 people found this helpful

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  • Natalia
  • 03-12-15

History that is as entertaining as it is educating

What made the experience of listening to The Silk Roads the most enjoyable?

For me this is highly personal, as most of the listening I did while in Istanbul, so I was situated in one of the prime locations mentioned in the earlier sections of the book. But on a less 'contextual' level, I found listening to extremely well written history that assumed the reader/listener was intelligent but not an expert a true pleasure.

What did you like best about this story?

That Frankopan, as usual, manages to tie everything together in a cohesive manner.

Did Laurence Kennedy do a good job differentiating each of the characters? How?

No. The attempt at different voices and accents was cringeworthy. I realise that he was trying to differentiate when he was reading a direct quote but sometimes he bordered on offensive or racist, or downright silly.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No but I did very much enjoy it.

Any additional comments?

While I know this kind of book is not for everyone, I very much hope a lot of people listen to or read it.

73 people found this helpful

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  • DVee
  • 28-10-18

Worthwhile book, annoying narration

Frankopan's history is useful, but Laurence Kennedy's narration is old fashioned and condescending. He seems to want to attempt mystical, "oriental"-sounding accents that just come off as borderline offensive and silly. This undermines the subject-matter.

22 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-09-17

Dreadful!

This was appalling! The book may be better than I realise, but the narration was so bad, it was difficult to see past that and appreciate the content. I was so disappointed as I wanted to gain an understanding of this part of the World that is so poorly understood by the West. The pretentious (and sometimes erroneous?) pronunciations made me cringe and the narrators intermittent and apparently random use of pantomime foreign accents bordered on the racist. I gave up after the first 2 chapters from which I learnt absolutely nothing.

56 people found this helpful

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  • Dragan Glumac
  • 20-08-17

I couldn't get into it, perhaps it's for reading

I was struggling to focus even though I was interested in the topic. The promise of eastern perspective didn't shine through, it's still seemed quite a western European perspective. Perhaps it gets better but I think this one will be better to read than it is to listen. And I'll read it instead.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Rossco
  • 13-09-17

Poorly narrated

The narrator reads this book in a very stumbling manner. Makes it difficult to listen at times.

22 people found this helpful

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  • Wras
  • 04-09-15

Time, the creation of gods, the needs of commerce

Hammurabi is mention at the very beginning (1810 - 1750 BC) of this incredible expansive and ambitious book, taking us through the ages and arriving to very recent history, opening doors and unapologetically exposing the interest and machinations of power, clearly coldly; because this world is dog eat dog world, and if you are not the powerful you are the weak and the meek and this history will tell you what that really means, and what happens over and over when you are not ready to survive and be the the alfa, in what is a feast of accumulated records and knowledge with refreshing bluntness and honesty.

Every culture is ethnocentric and sees the world from their particular perspective, this book tries to expand on that representation of reality and advances a few truth that will make many cringe, with its dispassionate presentation of the evolution of religion and influences of one religion on one another and how they borrow for the convenience or promotion in their constituency and how inevitably they attach themselves to governments and nationalistic needs. It explains how the cross pollination of cultures and ideas and the influence of markets, money,commerce, influence the applications of power, belief and morality; throughout the centuries.

It will dispel the filling that globalisation is a new construct, but that it is a two thousand year old reality, that has persisted and adapted through everything, because it distributes wealth and the goods we desire to flavour our food dress our bodies to exchange ideas, create gods and alliances to feed the one true power the market, the global market.

Without the jingoism of nationalism and a more global view of economies the writer changes the perspective of nationalism, to the market interests as the real force behind all realms, striping most of the prevarication and artifacts that makes as believe in a moral, or racial superiority, to oil the needs of power and government to maintain revenue flowing and advantages for the rulers in place in what is a millennial game of chess.

If you like history this is a feast that will open your appetite, and clear your mind to regard history with a new reverence, without romanticism or heroism, just a fascinating human history, and its naked motivations.

The narrator of this book is excellent and adds color and interest to a great story.

97 people found this helpful

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  • EDWARD WILSON
  • 15-11-18

An absolutely incredible book

By far and away the best listen on Audible to date. I'm slightly biased as I love the geographical history surrounding the Silk Road routes, however this book goes way beyond that and takes you from start to finish and everyone interesting inbetween. can't wait to start his next book today

4 people found this helpful

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  • Thomas
  • 17-03-16

Gets much better throughout

The book sets out with the noble aim of rewriting the history of the world from a brand new, different perspective based around what happened in central Asia, rather than being Eurocentric. However the first half of the book utterly fails to do this, as it is just the same old history of ancient Europe we've heard countless times. However it improves hugely by the middle ages and suddenly its perspective finally becomes about trade, and features bits of history new to me. The final quarter is by the far the best, the history of oil in the middle east, as this was the only section that was completely novel to me.

So persevere, and it ends up being quite a good book!

23 people found this helpful

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  • kate deegan
  • 09-03-16

Interesting.... But

The book is great and full of illuminating insights into current Middle East situation but the reader was poor and his emphasis often wrong

12 people found this helpful

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  • Tim
  • 11-09-18

Misleading title, very Eurocentric history of M.E.

I was interested in this book due to its title and blurb claims about it being a world history from the views of central Asian and Middle Eastern cultures and civilisation. What I got however was another history of the west (and a poor one at that) with barely any touching of central Asia. The Mongol Empire was skimmed over. China was practically not touched at all. The 'Stan' countries were basically only touched on in the conclusion. Bad history in terms of the British Empire. Extremely Eurocentric in terms of its overage of the Middle East. If you were looking to buy this book for a history of the world from the perspective of Central Asia and the Middle East look elsewhere, this is another lacklustre Eurocentric world history.

24 people found this helpful

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  • Emily Williams
  • 23-04-19

Distracting Accents

This book is so interesting but it is incredibly distracting that no one thought that the idea of doing accents for the quotes would be weird. There are a number of problems with this: Firstly so far (Chapter 9), the narrator has only done accents for people's of Asia and the Middle East, but not for any European countries, such as French, Italian or German, so there is clearly a bit of a skewed focus. Secondly, that there is no way of accurately knowing what kind of accents the writers of these texts would have had, as the language they speak is different from modern dialects and it's not like we have recordings from the 12th century to listen to for comparison. Thirdly these texts were written in the language of their creator, and for the most part translated to English at a later date. It is highly unlikely that any accent that the writer had would have sounded the same as how the narrator has interpreted it when they were writing in their native tongue. Frankly it's just egregious that no one thought this was a problem in this day and age.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Tim
  • 16-08-16

Not a history of Asia

Any additional comments?

It started well, with an introduction promising to correct biases. He criticizes the standard story of world history: Greece begat Rome begat the Renaissance, Enlightenment, England, America; but then proceeds to essentially tell that story, albeit with a continuous focus on near and central Asia. There was an interesting portrait of a thriving medieval Asia, but apart from that, the story was largely told through Western eyes. The story of the colonisation of America seemed familiar and mostly irrelevant to his central thesis, and thus somewhat out of place. His history of the 20th century was very engaging for me, and had a number of new revelations and insights. Overall, well worth listening to, alongside other history books.

I'd love to see a true history of Asia, but I don't think Audible has such a thing at present.

22 people found this helpful

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  • Mr T J Lynass
  • 21-06-16

Inspiring observation of this pivotal area of the world and its impact on history.

The author has thoroughly researched diverse cultures and traditions and knit them into an accurate depiction of events. The story is told through episodes which personalise key events by masterful story-telling involving the pivotal characters. An epic tale that is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Adam
  • 01-11-16

Poor performance, good book

The history of global trade throughout the ages, very well explained and logically arranged. good book.
terribly read. narrator uses caricature borderline racist voices for quotes, very stilted at times.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Greg Sale
  • 13-12-16

Fabulous

If you want an understanding of why today is like it is read this book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jennifer
  • 21-10-16

fascinating history

this book is a very interesting look at the history of a region which most of us are unfamiliar with and a timely reminder of how we are all linked as a planet.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Farevar Rami
  • 27-07-16

I really enjoyed the expose of the continuity

of the history of this region with events that occurred in my lifetime. nothing like seeing history repeat itself

2 people found this helpful

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  • Ryan Curwen-Walker
  • 20-07-16

Very Propaganda-ish

I picked the Silk Road as an introduction to eastern history. I'm a great lover of history but have to admit almost all my studies have been of western history.
I thought the title "the silk roads" would have meant that the book was about China and and the Middle East. But China barely gets a mention in this book.
I also found it astonishing how much western history is mentioned in this book. Alexander the Great, Ancient Rome and the Byzantines are referred to a lot in the early stages of the book.
Then the crusaders get dragged into it, followed by the European powers of the 15th century through to the USA today.
In short, it's a very western focused book for a so called "new history of the world".
One part I did find intriguing was the so called "golden age@ of the Islamic caliphate. That made me want to study this a bit more.
Towards the end of the book it just becomes anti-west vitriol.
Overall I think this book is not so much a history book as a political / opinion book.
However there were a few interesting parts so I give it 2 stars instead of 1.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Gordon
  • 01-04-16

Some great gems of historical fact

Liked the revelations relating to Europe and USA interference in modern Arabia leading to the recent cause of unrest. Will listen again sometime and provide recommendations to friends that may be able to last the long journey the book requires;-)

4 people found this helpful