This is a sequel to The Silk Roads (2015). It researches how past migration effects our world today.
The Silk Roads are an ancient concept of how people and trade moved between Asia, Europe and Africa. They are not roads at such, but how cultures, and continents are interwoven and how religion, language and disease disseminated across a wide area.
Frankopan feels that our everyday influences such as Brexit, Trump and Relations with Russia and China are still intrinsically linked to the silk roads. Brands such as Nike & Hermes have recently used the spice route to rebrand new products.
This book made me realise how blinkered I have been. I thought I had an appreciation of world events: Trump and his chaotic administration, my own opinions about Brexit, but this book takes global politics to another level that I had not given any thought about before. Frankopan explores and explains how China mainly, has extended its tendrils into every part of the globe and is now the emerging super power.
President Xi, it appears has offered investment in Africa, South America and even trying to work alongside Afghanistan and ISIS, helping to finance new pipelines for oil. China also are building essential rail networks which, in theory will offer essential power to the regions. If the debt cannot be paid though, then China takes ownership and could potentially control, oil, water and transport to much of Europe along the Silk Roads. China seems to be supporting others to move forward and is engaging even with extremist groups but President Xi is also causing concern that China is taking an interest in the Pacific Ocean. Localised countries including Australia and NZ, are looking at their security alongside India who is also making contingencies to protect themselves against unwanted invasion.
Apparently all roads in the 21st Century now lead to Beijing! Frankopan suggests that Chinese motivation is more about the desire to fund investments with good product return than improving the standard of living in China or neighbouring countries, with the reality that few Chinese (around 10%) own their own fridge or have access to a home laptop.
Whilst Trump and much of the Western world is hunkering down ‘Keeping America Great’ & Europe bustling with Brexit; China appears to be confidently, and not so quietly, becoming the Country that already supports or has its fingers in many companies around the world.
This book is not what I would usually read, however it is extremely interesting, enlightening but also a little overwhelming of what the future holds. Much of Frankopans ideas are a bit difficult to digest but are thought provoking and he has certainly increased my awareness of how individuals decisions about their own business and outlook on life can have an impact on global change.
I would defiantly recommend this book to anyone vaguely interested in the world around them, not politics as such, but an awareness of how small The Globe has become and how intrinsically linked we are to the Silk roads. Frankopan also highlights how easily one country has the potential to have complete control of us all!
The New Silk Roads is published by Bloomsbury Books and is available here.
Peter Frankopan is Professor of Global History at Oxford University where he is also Senior Research Fellow at Worcester College and Director at the Centre for Byzantine Research. He was Schiff Scholar at Jesus College, Cambridge, and Senior Scholar at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He has been Stanley J. Seeger Fellow at Princeton, Scaliger Visiting Professor at Leiden and Presidential Scholar at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. His revised translation of The Alexiad by Anna Komnene was published by Penguin Classics in 2009. He is the author of The First Crusade: The Call from the East (2012) and The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (2015).
Reviewed by Amanda Brightman
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