John Man

Obscure Empires Brought to Light

The History of Central Asia: The Age of Islam and the Mongols


I B Tauris 382pp £30 order from our bookshop

Once upon a time, over a millennium ago, Central Asia was so vast and forbidding that the cultures on its edge knew almost nothing about it. Wildernesses of desert, mountain and grassland divided east from west. But in around AD 800 it began to open up. During the following centuries, it seethed with rival cultures, religions and empires, all emerging, expanding, sinking and dying like cells in a 6,000-kilometre Petri dish, with many an unforeseeable consequence along the way.

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