In this long-awaited second edition, Susan Whitfield broadens her exploration of the Silk Road and expands her rich and varied portrait of life along the great pre-modern trade routes of Eurasia. This new edition is comprehensively updated to support further understanding of themes relevant to global and comparative history and remains the only history of the Silk Road to reconstruct the route through the personal experiences of travelers.
In the first 1,000 years after Christ, merchants, missionaries, monks, mendicants, and military men traveled the vast network of Central Asian tracks that became known as the Silk Road. Whitfield recounts the lives of twelve individuals who lived at different times during this period, including two characters new to this edition: an African shipmaster and a Persian traveler and writer during the Arab caliphate. With these additional tales, Whitfield extends both geographical and chronological scope, bringing into view the maritime links across the Indian Ocean and depicting the network of north-south routes from the Baltic to the Gulf.
Throughout the narrative, Whitfield conveys a strong sense of what life was like for ordinary men and women on the Silk Road, the individuals usually forgotten to history. A work of great scholarship, Life along the Silk Road continues to be both accessible and entertaining.
List of Illustrations
Preface to the Second Edition
Note on Transliteration and Names
Prologue: The Shipmaster’s Tale
1. The Merchant’s Tale
2. The Soldier’s Tale
3. The Horseman’s Tale
4. The Princess’s Tale
5. The Courtesan’s Tale
6. The Pilgrim’s Tale
7. The Writer’s Tale
8. The Official’s Tale
9. The Nun’s Tale
10. The Widow’s Tale
11. The Artist’s Tale
Susan Whitfield runs the International Dunhuang Project at the British Library, which provides online access to hundreds of thousands of manuscripts, paintings, and archaeological artifacts from the eastern Silk Road. The author of numerous books and articles on the Silk Road and China, Whitfield travels widely in the region and curates relevant exhibitions. She lectures and teaches worldwide.
"A more completely reconstructed Silk Road and more colorfully depicted stories."—H. Zhang CHOICE
"Whitfield’s biographical summaries neatly contextualize a range of social, religious, and geo-political perspectives."—Bulletin of the Asia Institute
“The cast reads like something out of The Canterbury Tales
. Brings to life the history and also the great variety of people, languages, religions, interests, and behaviors along the most remarkable of migratory routes.”Sunday Times
“A wonderful find. This book is a treasure.”South China Morning Post
“A trailblazer, vividly recreating the life and times of this great cultural highway.”The Scotsman
"Wonderfully written and highly evocative. Armchair travelers and historians will certainly enjoy reading it."Journal of Asian Studies
"Enlightening. Whitfield's skillfully crafted tales take readers on a journey back to the heyday of the Silk Road and enable them to relive its people's unusual existence."Bloomsbury Review
"Imaginative reconstruction of a distant time and place is this book's great strength. It's both enjoyable and very useful for anyone teaching or learning about the region."
David Christian, Journal of World History
"Susan Whitfield infuses her narrative with delightfully elaborate descriptions embracing an amazing plethora of topics. Her tales provide intimate historical matters well beyond the Chinese traditional accounts."Comparative Civilizations Review