Magazines on History


 

 

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Pakistan a Hard Country
Peter Frankopan
Bloomsbury 656pp 25

Vast issues are woven with stories of prized steppes horses, which appeared to sweat blood, murderous games of backgammon, the rich artistic life of Silk Road cities such as Baghdad, to Suez and the fantastic oil strikes of the early 20th century, the launch of Sputnik and 9/11. The Silk Roads does not only cover the East, but looks west to the Americas, deftly explaining the movement of gigantic quantities of bullion, beginning in the Renaissance, mainly by Iberian conquistadors. This metal wealth travelled across the world, where it was exchanged for luxury goods, creating a route of commerce that belted the globe, wiping out peoples such as the Incas and the Aztecs.

The book also offers a look at the complicated backstory between modern Iran and the US, Israel and Palestine, as well as the Gulf conflicts. Stories of the oil-rich, names we now associate with art and philanthropy, such as Getty and Gulbenkian, echo those of the Silk Road merchants.

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