Life Along the Silk Road
Berkeley, University of California Press, 1999.
Writing in a style somewhat reminiscent of Edward Schafer's "The Golden Peaches of Samarkand," Susan Whitfield produced a neat little book entitled Life Along the Silk Road. This publication constitutes a welcome addition to the growing scholarly literature in English on Central Asia. This region of the world presents a formidable challenge for Western historians. During the last three millennia this area of the world served as the homeland for a motley assortment of nomadic peoples who frequently terrorized their more sedentary civilized neighbors. Just trying to identify who was where during what period of time (and for how long) can vex the most dedicated historian.
Fortunately, for students of Asia, a fairly impressive number of delightful books appeared recently offering extremely helpful information about this mysterious region. This especially proves true for conditions in this area during the Chinese Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD). These publications became possible because of the accessibility of thousands of manuscripts plundered by Western and Japanese...