Continuity and Change

Beside my computer table lies an unsteady stack of unread books. My reading is notionally guided by a careful list, but I often break my own rules when tempted by a pretty cover. The Silk Roads: A New History of the World is one such cover. From the preface, this lovely passage:

Progress was essential, as one of the rulers of the kingdom of Zhao in north-eastern China at one extremity of Asia more than 2,000 years ago knew all too well. “A talent for following the ways of yesterday,” declared King Wu-ling in 307 BC, “is not sufficient to improve the world of today.”

History has many merits, but an underappreciated one is the sense of companionship it creates; one is rarely alone amongst history’s pages.

5 thoughts on “Continuity and Change

  1. I learned about the Egyptians, Romans and the Plague and Feudal system in high school like all the rest (I’m only catching up on Asia decades later).

    Anyway, it wasn’t until getting to Sapiens, probably the first non-European/new European (American, Australian) historical author I’d read. The truth was finally stated clear in Sapiens: Europe was a complete backwater until the 1500s. Harari was explicit that the Romans are the only thing anyone needs to care about about Europe at all until the 1500s. French kings etc. be damned.

    It’s strange reversal, almost like undoing myself from indoctrination in a way. People ask why Alexander the Great went for India instead of Europe, but in reality, why the hell would he have wanted Europe?

    I guess the Silk Roads continues this theme, although I don’t actually remember much detail of what I read from it.

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