read Empires of the Silk Road kindle ì Paperback × reflectionslisburnltd

kindle Empires of the Silk Road

read Empires of the Silk Road kindle ì Paperback × reflectionslisburnltd È The first complete history of Central Eurasia from ancient times to the present day Empires of the Silk Road represents a fundamental rethinking of the origins history and significance of this major world region ChristopherThe first complete history of Central Eurasia from ancient times to the present day Empires of the Silk Road represents a fundamental rethinking of the origins history and significance of this major world region Christopher Beckwith describes the rise and fall of the great Central Eurasian empires including those of the Scythians Attila the Hun the Turks and Tibetans and Genghis Khan and the Mongols In addition he explains why the heartland of Central Eurasia led the world economically scientifically and artistically for many centuries despit I can’t remember what led me to this book I often read history but not generally sweeping histories like this which generally sacrifice depth for breadth All I know is that I picked it up and found myself hooked from the Preface on Beckwith has a magisterial command of his material and moves easily from bird’s eye to ground level views without losing track of the broader story He also offers up here and there amazing comments on the languages used in the cultures he’s discussing which I as a poet find fascinating I only hope I can do the book justice in the following comments Empires of the Silk Road follows the rise development and decline of the land based network that at its height linked the Far East Japan China Korea Central Asia from Tibet and India to Turkey and Europe in the world’s first step toward globalized trade This robust system thrived until an expansion of the ancient Mediterranean coastal trading system was expanded by Western Europeans into the “regular open sea trade between Europe and South Southeast and East Asia” known as the Littoral System Over time the Littoral System outperformed the Silk Road and spurred all kinds of technological developments that led to what some historians refer to as The Rise of the West Beckwith traces this story all the way back to “the Indo European diaspora”—mass migrations of proto Indo European speakers out of Central Asia which began about 4000 years ago These migrations brought a new technology the war chariot and a new political idea the comitatus that proved crucial to the development of the Silk Road and its empiresThe war chariot and its effects alone are fascinating but after all it was merely a technological innovation destined to be supplanted by other innovations The comitatus as a political paradiagm on the other hand has proved durableEssentially the comitatus was a band of loyal warriors devoted to a single heroic lord who compensated them through wealth power and social status Members of a comitatus swore a blood oath that committed them to fight and die for their lord If the lord died before his core comitatus members they would commit ritual suicide and be buried with him in full battle regalia in order to fight on their lord’s behalf in the next world; sometimes especially when a comitatus numbered in the hundreds some less committed members would refuse suicide and end up being executed by the lord’s successor This model shaped political structures across ancient Europe; the western central and eastern steppes; the Arabian peninsula; India Tibet China Mongolia; and even down into Southeast Asia In other words the Eurasian Culture Complex united cultures that today seem neatly divided between West and East The comitatus paradigm affected them allIn fact although beyond the scope of Beckwith’s book clearly the comitatus is with us today It exists in popular mythology King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table for example religion Jesus and the Twelve Apostles the Sahabah who supported the Prophet Muhammed and in connection with any number of criminal organizations the Japanese Yakuza the Sicilian Mafia Even the bodyguards protecting members of the One Percent and the soldiers of fortune fielded by Academi the former Blackwater follow the comitatus model Of course these are my associations not Beckwith’sAs we follow Beckwith through the development of the Littoral System and its withering impact on the Silk Road we also see that the roots of colonialism’s brutality reach all the way back to the rise of the Eurasian empires With the advent of world religions—Buddhism Christianity Islam and their various subsets—Eurasian empires began adopting particular religions Buddhism in Tibet and China; Christianity in Europe; Islam in Central Eurasia the Arabian Peninsula and much of North Africa These choices had the effect of unifying each Empire from the ground up and projecting the glorious afterlife promised by the comitatus paradigm onto all the people in a given empireOne outcome of this shift was the creation of our modern notion of “barbarians” Eurocentric historians sons and daughters of the Littoral System have long portrayed Central Eurasians as “fierce and cruel natural warriors” whose “nomads’ life style left them poor because their production was insufficient for their needs” As a result Central Eurasians “robbed the rich peripheral agricultural peoples to get what they needed and wanted” What Beckwith demonstrates in wonderful detail is that every element of this portrait is wrong The “barbarians” were and are no naturally warlike than other peoples; they were certainly not poor in fact they were generally much better off than their agriculturalist neighbors their trading skills being than sufficient to provide for their needs One startling fact supporting this view is that the Great Wall of China was expanded under the Ming Dynasty not to keep “barbarians” out but to keep the poverty stricken agriculturalists of that area in In establishing the Littoral System the colonialist West initiated war after brutal war while driving the native populations of their colonies into miserable poverty Only by blaming their victims’ “barbarity” could the European kingdoms and nation states excuse their ownElouent as Beckwith is in his defense of the cultures that developed from the Central Eurasian Complex when he gets to the modern period his argument collapses as often happens when historians try to account for a contemporary condition The condition Beckwith critiues—attacks would be a better word—is what he calls “Modernism” His argument hinges on the following definition “The core idea of Modernism is simple and seems harmless enough by itself what is modern—new and fashionable—is better than what it replaces” This attitude wasn’t a problem he writes “as long as classicism or the idea that what is old is better than what is new still acted as a counterweight But the classical and aristocratic became identified became identified with each other in opposition to the modern and nonaristocratic along with the spread of industrialization and urbanization when nonaristocratic people doing modern industrial urban things came to dominate Europe North America and eventually much of the rest of Eurasia” The whiff of elitism here is unmistakable along with nostalgia for the comforts of the political structures destroyed in the last century’s two great wars and the eruptions that Beckwith calls “radical Modernist revolutions”Once he has identified Modernism with revolutions Beckwith proceeds to trash Modernism in the arts—specifically music Stravinsky Webern rock ’n’ roll painting Picasso and Pollack and literature especially the poetry of Pound and Eliot Most heinous of all in Beckwith’s view is that Modernism—“not so much a philosophy or movement as a total world view”—begat Postmodernism a form of “hyper Modernism” that he believes has destroyed all traditional intellectual values He is especially distressed that Modernism has spread to Central Eurasia “In post WWII Europe” he writes “Paris is still characterized by its beautiful old traditional architecture and the libraries and museums are full In Central Eurasia by contrast only a few famous monuments were not destroyed and only a tiny percentage of the once vast number of old books was preserved By the end of the twentieth century the evil done in the name of Modernism and ‘progress’ left Central Eurasians bereft of much of their past”By “the evil done in the name of Modernism” Beckwith means primarily Stalin and Mao although he cites the Iranian revolution’s deposition of the Shah and other similar events as well For some reason even though the book’s index has a “Modernism in Germany” entry the text it refers to never explicitly links Hitler with Modernism This failure doesn’t indicate fascist sympathies; instead it shows Beckwith glossing over a flaw in his argument about Modernism Unlike the “all things new” future oriented totalitarianism of Stalin and Mao Hitler’s revolution was a backward looking fantasy a pathological attempt to recreate the past In fact its was the clearly Modernist Weimar Republic Hitler had to crush in order to attempt his reestablishment of the Third Reich Why would Beckwith every inch the honest scholar dodge this issue? My guess is that he does not want to admit that the Hitler Stalin and Mao were perhaps the last gasp of the ancient Central Eurasian Complex paradigm each was a “lord” served by a suicidal comitatus; each used his “lordly” status to build an empire just as every Central Eurasian warlord had attempted to do since the beginning of the proto Indo European diaspora If Beckwith were to acknowledge the persistence of the comitatus idea he might see Modernism for what it is a visceral and intellectual reaction to the collapse of the paradigm which for 4000 years had grounded the psycho spiritual lives of people within the Central Eurasian Culture ComplexI will admit that Beckwith’s critiue of Modernism is persuasive in parts and I haven’t given it the attention it deserves In any case his remedy—a call for “artists musicians and poets to focus their minds on the creation of a new high art tradition”—hearkens to the utterly discredited hierarchies rooted in the lordcomitatus paradigm This paradigm consists now of nothing but vestiges Modernism recognizes this though some Modernists lament while others celebrate Eliot and Pound at whom Beckwith sneers than once are among the lamenters looking to the past for their values enad of fascism Pound in particular found inspiration in the 15th century poet and warlord Sigismundo Malatesta whose image he loonily projected upon the strutting pagliaccio Benito Mussolini and devoted nevertheless to “the new” in verse; among the celebratory Modernists were Walt Whitman yes I would argue for Whitman as the first English language Modernist William Carlos Williams and e e cummings What a shame it would be to throw out all these poets and their fellows in music and visual art all in the name of “Make It Old”Now I will say that Beckwith is right that no one has yet figured out how to critiue Modernism from the outside That needs to happen And yes the stranglehold that Modernism’s bastard child Postmodernism has developed in the Academy needs to be broken In fact in his Introduction Beckwith mounts a succinct powerful attack on Postmodernism that he can’t seem to match in his attacks on ModernismHistory is only opinion Therefore no valid judgments can be made We cannot know what happened or why but can only guess at the modern motivations for the modern “construction of identity” of a nation the nationalistic polemics of anti intellectuals and nonscholars and so on All manuscripts are eually valuable so it is a waste of time to edit them—or worse they are said to be important mainly for the information they reveal about their scribes and their cultural milieux so producing critical editions of them eliminates this valuable information Besides we cannot know what any author really intended to say anyway so there is no point in even trying to find out what he or she actually wrote Art is whatever anyone claims to be art No ranking of it is possible There is no good art or bad art; all is only opinion Therefore it is impossible formally to improve art; one can only change it Unfortunately obligatory constant change and the elimination of all criteria necessarily euals or produces stasis no real change The same applies to politics in which the Modern “democratic” system allows only superficial change and thus produces stasis Because no valid judgments can be made by humans—all human judgments are opinions only—all data must be eual As a conseuence Postmodernists’ judgment about the invalidity of judgments must also be invalid but the idea of criticizing Postmodernist dogma does not seem to be popular among them In accordance with the Postmodernist view there is only a choice between religious belief in whatever one is told ie suspension of disbelief or total skepticism suspension of both belief and disbelief In both cases the result if followed resolutely to the logical extreme is cessation of thought or at least elimination of even the possibility of critical thought If the vast majority of people who are capable only of the former choice total belief are joined by intellectuals and artists all agreeing to abandon reason the result will be an age of credulity repression and terror that will put all earlier ones to shameAll this I think is undeniable and does not at all understate what’s at stake On the other hand while Postmodernism is indeed dangerous it is nothing like the hyper Islamism of Al aeda the hyper Christianism of the Christian Identity movement the hyper Judaism of Kahane Chai or the hyper New Ageism of Aum Shinrikyo—none of which can be described as “rooted in Modernism” But the truth is Postmodernism excuses these bizarre and deadly hyper groups when it pretends that reason isn’t preferable to unreason and that all values are eualUltimately Empires of the Silk Road is brilliant history because of Beckwith’s commitment to reason his openness to evidence and his profound respect for the cultures he studies I think that someday this book is bound to be recognized as a classic

doc Ü A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present ´ Christopher I. Beckwith

Ing economy of premodern Central Eurasia the economy's disintegration following the region's partition by the Chinese and Russians in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the damaging of Central Eurasian culture by Modernism; and he discusses the significance for world history of the partial reemergence of Central Eurasian nations after the collapse of the Soviet Union Empires of the Silk Road places Central Eurasia within a world historical framework and demonstrates why the region is central to understanding the history of civilizati I had the good fortune to discuss this book with one of the author's colleagues while I was reading it He informed me of two criticisms commonly levelled at it the first is that it is over reliant on the Chinese sources when thanks to the author's command of several other languages there is no need for it to be I would not have known that without our conversation The second common criticism was immediately apparent to me a complete failure to include any archaeological evidence of which there is an increasing ammount in his narrativeI used the word narrative deliberately this is a grand narrative in the full sense of traditional history writing It does in addition to its historical sources make much use of linguistic resarch and places Central Asia uite properly at the centre of Eurasian culture and commerce As anyone even vaguely familiar with European or Asian history will know this is an idea that has been neglected for a considerable amount of time for most of modern scholarship in fact and this book occupies an exalted position amongst a growing library of work which seeks to rehabilitate the region in world historyWhere the book takes a strictly chronological structure it begins to unravel in the penultimate chapter covering the twentieth century Here the author's occasional political preaching apparent at points throughout the text is allowed to take over in his treatment of the twentieth century and develops into a bizarre and somewhat out of place rant against Modernism This is then developed in the final chapter which looks to see what the future may hold for Central Asia surely an unwise inclusion for any historian?Just when the book appears to be at its most peculiar and infuriting though a lengthy epilogue is included summarising our knowledge of Central Eurasian history This epilogue is worth the price of the book alone and should be reuired reading for any Central Asianist containing some very useful ideas and reviews

Christopher I. Beckwith ´ Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present kindle

Empires of the Silk Road A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the PresentE invasions by Persians Greeks Arabs Chinese and others In retelling the story of the Old World from the perspective of Central Eurasia Beckwith provides a new understanding of the internal and external dynamics of the Central Eurasian states and shows how their people repeatedly revolutionized Eurasian civilization Beckwith recounts the Indo Europeans' migration out of Central Eurasia their mixture with local peoples and the resulting development of the Graeco Roman Persian Indian and Chinese civilizations; he details the basis for the thriv Although interesting at times this book is not uite what it sets itself out to be Rather than a history of Central Eurasia per se it is actually a history of ALL of Eurasia with a slight focus on the central bit spanning the bronze age to the present If that seems rather broad well it is Beckwith does a good job laying out the importance of Central Eurasia to world history and I definitely came away with a better understanding of the region and its connections to the rest of the globe Instead of a hole in the map I now think of an important node that not only connects East and West but a region that has its own distinct cultures and happenings that forced East and West to react to ITUnfortunately the book gets bogged down in its breadth and Beckwith's enemies which are apparently numerous Did we really need a huge section on the ills of the Modernist art movement? And how many times do we have to hear about how terrible China is? But its really how far it stretches that does the book in His definition of Central Eurasian cultures seems a bit broad especially when he starts encompassing regions as diffuse as Ukraine Tibet and India But perhaps that's the accepted definition; I don't know Regardless the book could have used a lot focus I came away appreciative of Central Eurasia but hardly knowledgeable