In his new book, The Bukharan Crisis: A Connected History of 18th-Century Central Asia
(University of Pittsburgh, 2020), Scott Levi
brings new perspectives into the historiography of early Modern Central Asia. Levi reflects on recent scholarship to identify multiple causal factors that contributed to the Bukharan crisis of the 18th century. These include climate change, the global silver trade, the innovation of new gunpowder and weapon technologies, and a number of political transformations in surrounding states. In identifying these multiple factors, Levi challenges dominant narratives in Central Asian history which themselves are holdovers from Orientalist historiography that have primarily characterized early modern Central Asia as an isolated region facing multiple decades of economic, political, and social decline. This book is commendable both for its sophisticated arguments and its accessibility to specialists and non-specialists alike. It will be of interest to scholars, students, and casual readers interested in Central Asian, economic, and global history during the period in question.
Nicholas Seay is a PhD student at The Ohio State University.