By Valerie Hansen

The Silk Road

Expanded College Edition

This new edition of the book is specially designed for use in the classroom.  Based on the trade edition, The Silk Road: A New History with Documents offers a selection of excerpted primary sources at the end of each chapter.

A new chapter focuses on the route across the grasslands, which ran several hundred miles north of the traditional silk road around the Taklamakan. Several rich accounts written by travelers  illuminate life on this route, which was used by the Mongols in the 1200s and 1300s. Although Marco Polo is the most famous Silk Road traveler today, others like John of Plano Carpini and William of Rubruck left more accurate accounts, and one traveler, Rabban Sauma, traveled in the opposite direction from Beijing to Europe.

The book also contains a total of 52 primary sources, including passages from the official histories, memoirs of medieval Chinese monks and modern explorers, letters written by women and merchants, marriage contracts and model divorce agreements, poems, descriptions of towns, legal contracts, and religious hymns, among others. About three quarters of the translations are drawn from existing translations (with any archaic phrasings updated as necessary), and about one quarter newly translated.

All the documents are listed in the Table of Contents.

If you would like to request a free exam copy for adoption in a course, please go to the website of Oxford University Press.

The Silk Road was already the best introduction to the reality behind this commonly used phrase. With the new documents, this version gives an even more vivid picture of how the ‘Silk Road’ actually functioned. It is perfect for the classroom.“The myth of the ‘European Middle Ages’ dissolves in the ocean currents and trade winds of this stimulating account of early global connections.  Bolstered by facts and enlivened by intriguing theories, Hansen’s book presents a world of objects, ideas, people, animals, and know-how constantly on the move.  A brisk and refreshing trip for us all.

— Christopher P. Atwood, University of Pennsylvania

In 2013 the International Convention of Asia Scholars recognized The Silk Road: A New History as the best new book about Asia for teaching the humanities. That is no small praise, and I could not readily agree more. Indeed, for anyone who teaches the Silk Road–or Asian or world history–this updated version that includes a remarkable array of original sources is an absolute boon. Not only because it is beautifully written and cogently offers up a magisterial overview of Inner Asian history up through the Mongol conquest, but also, more importantly, because it weaves into its narrative the excitement of discovery that lies at the heart of the humanities.

— Johan Elverskog, Southern Methodist University

The Silk Road Gallery