James A. Milward
's new book offers a thoughtful and spirited history of the silk road for general readers.The Silk Road: A Very Short Introduction
(Oxford University Press, 2013) is part of the Oxford "A Very Short Introduction" series. The book is organized into six chapters that each take a different thematic approach to narrating aspects of silk road history from 3000 BCE to the twenty-first century, collectively offering a kind of snapshot introduction to major conceptual approaches to world history writing. In the course of learning about the Xiongnu and the history of dumplings, then, the reader simultaneously gets a crash course in environmental, political, bio-cultural, technological, and artisanal historiographies. Millward has filled the pages of this concise and very readable text with evocative (and sometimes very funny) stories, vignettes, and objects from the historical routes of Central Eurasia, weaving together the histories of lutes, horses, and silkworms with a sensitive and critical reading of the modern historiography of the Eurasian steppe. Enjoy!