Raiders, Rulers, and Traders: The Horse and the Rise of Empires (Hardcover)

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Raiders, Rulers, and Traders: The Horse and the Rise of Empires By David Chaffetz Cover Image


A captivating history of civilization that reveals the central role of the horse in culture, commerce, and conquest.

No animal is so entangled in human history as the horse. The thread starts in prehistory, with a slight, shy animal, hunted for food. Domesticating the horse allowed early humans to settle the vast Eurasian steppe; later, their horses enabled new forms of warfare, encouraged long-distance trade routes, and ended up acquiring deep cultural and religious significance.

Over time, horses came to power mighty empires in Iran, Afghanistan, China, India, and, later, Russia. Genghis Khan and the thirteenth-century Mongols offer the most famous example, but from ancient Assyria and Persia, to the seventeenth-century Mughals, to the high noon of colonialism in the early twentieth century, horse breeding was indispensable to conquest and statecraft.

Scholar of Asian history David Chaffetz tells the story of how the horse made rulers, raiders, and traders interchangeable, providing a novel explanation for the turbulent history of the “Silk Road,” which might be better called the Horse Road. Drawing on recent research in fields including genetics and forensic archeology, Chaffetz presents a lively history of the great horse empires that shaped civilization.

About the Author

David Chaffetz, regular Asian Review of Books contributor, member of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs, and author of A Journey through Afghanistan and Three Asian Divas, has traveled extensively in Asia for more than forty years. He divides his time between Lisbon and Paris.

Praise For…

A fascinating, compelling, and scholarly history of horses, raiders, and rulers that brings the great horse-powered empires of Central Asia to life and places the horse at the center of world history where it belongs.
— Simon Sebag Montefiore, New York Times best-selling author of The World: A Family History of Humanity

A dog may be humanity’s best friend, but the horse is certainly the greatest ally. With the strength of horses added to their own modest physical abilities, humans radically changed everything from agriculture and transportation to sports and warfare. From milking to marauding, David Chaffetz’s Raiders, Rulers, and Traders takes the reader on a well-paced ride through the history of this revolutionary and emotional alliance of human and animal.

— Jack Weatherford, New York Times best-selling author of Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

Lively.... Chaffetz brings an authoritative tone to his complex tale, and he includes maps, illustrations, a glossary, and a particularly helpful timeline that runs from 20,000 B.C.E. into the mid-20th century. The result is a consistently engaging and highly informative narrative. Chaffetz ably traces swathes of history across continents, underlining how horses made kingdoms and cultures.
— Kirkus Reviews

Product Details
ISBN: 9781324051466
ISBN-10: 1324051469
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: July 30th, 2024
Pages: 384
Language: English