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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

When Asia Was the World

(Da Capo), by Stewart Gordon

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During the Middle Ages, Western Europe was a backwater. In When Asia Was the World, University of Michigan scholar Stewart Gordon explores the fertile cultural interchange that crisscrossed the vast continent along a network of seaports and caravansaries, Buddhist monasteries and Islamic garrisons, through the accounts of a slender handful of Chinese, Arab and Jewish travelers. Stewart is a compelling writer, yet the book is too short to do his topic justice. The Byzantine Empire is ignored, the role of Armenian traders on the Silk Road is mentioned only in passing and the influence of the far-flung Nestorians is omitted completely.

But despite the enormous gaps, When Asia Was the World will help raise popular awareness that the Earth’s history didn’t begin in Europe.
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