Ok… firstly a shout out to my readers in the Peoples Republic of China. It seems that I have more readers there right now than where I would like them or where I feel my words might make more of a difference (ie in the Commonwealth of Australia).
I like having readers, regardless of their motives.
The great narrative historian, Sir Martin Gilbert, in his history of the 20th century, made an error once, in that he claimed in an early volume that Judge Learned Hand was American Indian. With a name like Learned Hand, perhaps someone grown up on Hollywood Westerns might think that (I have read enough history to see some stranger names amongst American puritans such that I will not fall prey so easy now). He had to publish a retraction or clarification of his error in a later edition of that history.
On page 436 of his awesome (I am not going to be banal and predictable like rote writing book critics who like to say ‘magisterial’) book ‘The Silk Roads’, Professor Peter Frankopan made what appears to be a mistake which even a less clever person like I can pick up. He talks about Egyptian dictator Nasser launching an attack on Israel in 1967. The pattern of the history narrated over the next six years of the twentieth century is based on what his assumption is there.
The problem I have is that in 1967, Nasser did not attack Israel. Israel mounted a pre-emptive first strike on Egypt where it destroyed Egypt’s Air Force on the ground. Israel does mount many pre-emptive first strikes, but few are so serious as to be counted as wars.
But I am probably being pedantic. I am very impressed with the intellect and cleverness of Professor Frankopan. I can excuse small errors in a history which takes in three thousand years.
‘The Silk Roads’ is an extremely thought provoking history of the world, from a different perspective from that which westerners usually see.
Essentially, the world can be understood, in terms of how things move – goods, people, ideas, power. The dynamics which Professor Frankopan discusses are not new, but they are something which he is discussing in a way different to the accepted pattern.