Critical Acclaim for

The Silk Road: A New History


An “Editors’ Pick” in Nonfiction, August 2012

Library Journal - "An impressively well-researched book exploring the documentation of many different cultures and people along the many routes known as the Silk Road."

New York Journal of Books - “The Silk Road is part geographical mystery tour, village economic base reconstruction, invention and innovation history...Readers of The Silk Road will find any number of illuminating insights that may be the source of provocative conversations concerning big issues, the very different yet commonly important roles of China and Iran in contemporary society, trade and culture patterns, and much more. Indeed, this engaging, illuminating book may and should be profitably read at several levels on multiple occasions.” (Read more here.)

Publishers Weekly - “Hansen, an expert in early Chinese history at Yale, presents an erudite, scholarly look at artifacts as diverse as Buddhist sutras, ancient bills of sale, and even petrified dumplings, placing each in its proper context and building a detailed historical record drawing heavily on primary sources.”

David Morgan, Times Literary Supplement - " Hansen's entirely persuasive argument that, considered as a route which ran all the way from China, across Central Asia and to Persia, the Silk Road did not really exist at all. Some goods, though probably no individuals, did find their way from one end to the other. . .It is the people who travelled, and what they brought with them - in terms of culture rather than commerce - which lends the Silk Road its permanent historical significance. So Valerie Hansen

has not abolished it: what she has attempted, rather successfully and certainly very accessibly, to do is to shift attention from a singularly dubious notion of long-distance trade to a much more defensible concept of important cultural transmission across Asia.”

Etienne de la Vaissière, EHESS, Paris - "This book meets the challenge of being lively, readable, and at the same time extremely learned and up-to-date. In all respects a success."

Frances Wood, Curator of the Chinese Collections, British Library - "Valerie Hansen overturns the traditional view of the 'straight and well-travelled' Silk Road, as well as the notion that silk was of prime significance. Instead she reveals in detail the life, history, and culture of the different oasis centers of Central Asia, making the latest work by Chinese, Russian, Japanese, and other scholars available to us all. It is a triumph."

Gray Tuttle, Columbia University - "Erudite and engaging, this is no romantic tale of the Silk Road. Hansen challenges many of the conventional narratives of the crossroads of Eurasia. In place of large long distance commercial caravans, she finds subsistence living and local barter. Instead of merchants, she finds the Chinese military played the most important role in bringing silk onto the Silk Road. But the region is no less fascinating for all her debunking of old tropes. She skillfully weaves ancient records with modern explorations of the Silk Road to bring that past alive, especially the tolerant religious diversity of the region before Islam came to dominate around the year 1000. A wonderful read that will send you packing your bags!"

Victor H. Mair, University of Pennsylvania - "Valerie Hansen's The Silk Road is the most readable and reliable historical account of the fabled trade routes that cut across the center of Eurasia in medieval times. Based upon original sources and the best scholarship, the author's narrative is enriched by first-hand investigations in the field and extensive examination of artifacts in numerous museums. Handsomely illustrated, this volume brings to life as never before the men and animals who travelled from one Central Asian oasis to the next, conveying goods, ideas, art, music, and religions."


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