Don't Know Much About History, But . . .

I admittedly don't know many of the details of history-- I'm more of a big-picture guy-- but I am smart enough to recognize that Peter Frankopan's tour de force book Silk Roads: A New History of the World is not only precise and vivid with the details, but it will also make you revise your big-picture ideas as well . . . here are a few passages that I liked:

1) Early Christians had to battle against prejudice, bringing anguished cries from writers such as Tertullian (c. 160-225 AD), whose appeals have been compared by one distinguished scholar to Shakespeare's Shylock: we Christians "live beside you, share your food, your dress, your customs, the same necessities as life as you do," he implored . . . just because we do not attend Roman religious ceremonies, he wrote, does not mean that we are not human beings . . . "Have we different teeth or organs of incestuous lust?";

2) Once, wrote the historian al-Mas udi, the ancient Greeks and Romans had allowed the sciences to flourish; then they adopted Christianity . . . when they did so, they effaced the signs of learning, eliminated its traces, destroyed its paths" . . . science was defeated by faith . . . it is almost the precise opposite of the world as we see it today: the fundamentalists were not the Muslims, but the Christians; those whose minds were open, curious, and generous were based in the east-- and certainly not in Europe;

3) The reality of the story was very different . . . although the days that followed the assassination of Franz Ferdinand saw a series of misunderstandings, discussions, ultimata and permutations that would all be impossible to recreate, the seeds of war grew out of changes and developments located many thousands of miles away . . . Russia's rising ambition and the progress it was making in Persia, Central Asia and the Far East put pressure on Britain's position overseas, resulting in the fossilization of alliances in Europe.


rob said...

this is the weirdest travelogue ever

Dave said...

i read stuff when i travel.

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