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Valerie Hansen is the Stanley Woodward Professor of History at Yale University, where she teaches world and Chinese history. An accomplished scholar and author, she traveled to nearly twenty countries to research The Year 1000. She is also the author of The Silk Road: New History and The Open vis mere Empire. vis mindre

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Juridisk navn
Hansen, Valerie
Andre navne
Hansen, Ruilewei
University of Pennsylvania
Yale University



Valerie Hansen, the Stanley Woodward Professor of History at Yale University, came upon the idea for The Year 1000 when she reflected on the fact that Norse people landed at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland within a scant few years of when major Central Asian (the Karakhanids taking of Kashgar) and Chinese (Song and Liao dynasties) territorial expansions took place. Each of these important events were deeply influenced by, and in turn, exerted influence on, international trade. Given that the Norse peoples connected Eurasia and the Americas, albeit temporarily, the fact is that this was the first moment when the world had a truly global economy.

Hansen reviews the vast array of data describing international trade of the time. Archeology has shown that trade had flourished in Afro-Eurasia since ancient times. I won’t go into any depth of description here, other than to repeat (because I was not aware of it) that African monarchs initiated trade on their own, across the Sahara into the Middle East, and across the Indian Ocean with Southeast Asia and China. In addition to that, in the Americas, a high volume of commercial trade traveled from the Incan empire, through the Aztec territories, and into Mississippi River sites in the present-day United States.

I have always been interested in trade between nations as a way for merchants to do business, and for ideas to travel and find new adherents, or at least become known if not accepted. Hansen makes the persuasive argument that the practice of monarchs converting to and supporting what she calls “universal religions” in the lands they control resulted directly in the religious blocs in the world today. Europe operated under the sway of the Catholic Church, either Roman or Byzantine, Islam ruled through Northern Africa through to Central Asia, and a patchwork of Hinduism and Buddhism held sway in Southern and Far Eastern Asia. All these choices occurred in the period between roughly 950 to 1100.

Dr. Hansen’s effort succeeds in enumerating the goods which have continually changed hands since the dawn of human history. Her task was to winnow this ancient litany down to a manageable length, and in this I think she succeeds. She has written a book for the general public, easily understood by the modern reader. If you are interested in the history of economic globalization, this well-rounded and disciplined survey would be an excellent place to start.

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LukeS | 6 andre anmeldelser | Mar 31, 2024 |
Valerie Hansen's The Silk Road: A New History brings together both archaeological and textual analyses to reassess the history of the famous trading route during the first millennium CE. Hansen focuses primarily on a cluster of oasis towns that are today located in far northwestern China or in Uzbekistan, places where the arid climate and the relative remoteness has helped to preserve the sites and their associated sources particularly well. She argues that despite the romance which has been associated with the Silk Road since the late nineteenth century, and popular ideas about its importance, that the overland routes were actually comparatively little travelled and weren't that economically important. The Silk Road's real historical value lies in how its network of interconnected local and regional trade circuits functioned as a conduit for languages, religions, and cultures.

I can't speak to the specifics of Hansen's arguments about the individual oasis societies, not being particularly familiar with them, but on a macro level her point seemed broadly persuasive. I just wish she'd settled on a different structure. This is a somewhat meandering book, and it wasn't always clear to me how individual parts added to the whole. It did, however, reinforce my desire to someday travel along at least part of the Silk Road myself.
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siriaeve | 5 andre anmeldelser | Mar 11, 2023 |
Interesting look around the world at what was happening around the year 1000, especially in regard to trade and contact between regions. The world was a very complicated place! Many hundreds of distinct cultures dealing with their immediate neighboring cultures and also with cultures hundreds and even thousands of miles away. The author also has a book called “The Silk Road” - I may have to check that out.

I liked this book, but not quite as much as “1493” by Charles C Mann, which clearly covers a time 500 years later and focuses more directly on the Western Hemisphere and effects of the the Colombian (ahem) “discovery” of the “New World” on Europe and Asia. Anyway, both books are great, but I think Mann is the better writer.… (mere)
steve02476 | 6 andre anmeldelser | Jan 3, 2023 |
Even if you already have some awareness of global connections in the time before AD 1500, when the era of European exploration and "discovery" began, I'm pretty sure you would learn new things from this comprehensive, well-written book.

Hansen eases into her topic gently for Western readers with a careful review of a topic likely to be familiar, Viking voyages, evaluating dates and locations by using a combination of physical artifacts and oral history. Her introduction of these tools, along with detailed descriptions of means of travel (in this case boats), culture/religion, and approaches to trade, form the foundation of the remainder of the book.

It would serve no purpose for me to recount here details of her tales of the significance of the slave trade, not just across the Atlantic but in many cultures throughout Europe and Asia and Africa. You should read it yourself! I thought I knew something of the spread of religion throughout Europe and Asia, but Hansen's explanations of the various ways in which leaders wishing to expand their territories used the adoption or rejection of religions to advance their cause was new information to me.

Finally, although I had previously read of the lengthy voyages of merchant ships from India, Southeast Asia and especially China, as they ventured as far as Madagascar, Hansen's integration of details of shipbuilding and descriptions of the products traded along the routes gave me a much clearer impression of the vibrant cultures supported by these trips. And her explanation of the navigational techniques of the natives of the South Pacific gave me new respect for their accomplishments.

I listened rather than read, which may have been a disservice to the book because I would think the printed version had plenty of maps to accompany the text. But I have a pretty good sense of geography - and there was always Google Maps to fill in any gaps.

As we attempt to come to terms with a 21st century world that often seems to be spinning out of control, it was good to reflect on the integration of ideas and cultures in the past - even if it takes a long time to play out, and is subject to a certain amount of backsliding.
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BarbKBooks | 6 andre anmeldelser | Aug 15, 2022 |



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