I just finished the introduction of the book, and have come across this in the last paragraph of the Introduction:
"It is easy to mould the past into a shape that we find convenient and accessible. But the ancient world was much more sophisticated and interlinked than we sometimes like to think. Seeing Rome as the progenitor of western Europe overlooks the fact that it consistently looked to and in many ways was shaped by influences from the east.
The world of antiquity was very much a precursor of the world as we see it today - vibrant, competitive, efficient and energetic. A belt of towns formed a chain spanning Asia. The west had begun to look east, and the east had begun to look west. Together with increasing traffic connecting India with the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, the ancient Silk Roads of antiquity were coursing with life.
Rome's eyes had been fixed on Asia from the moment it transformed itself from a republic into an empire. And so too, it turned out, had its soul. For Constantine - and the Roman Empire - had found God; and the new faith was from the east too. Surprisingly, it came not from Persia or India, but from an uncompromising province where three centuries earlier Pontius Pilate had found infamy as governor. Christianity was about to fan out in all directions."
I have some problems with Frankopan's statements here: is he trying to sell the idea that Rome or the Greek states were not the origins of "civilisation" as the "new history of the world" as the book's subtitle suggests?
If so, what is so new about the idea of Asia developing in parallel and indeed matching Rome and the Greek states on many levels?
What is so new about Persia being an amazing early civilisation in its own right?
And what is this about Christianity? Are we considering a part of the Med, which had already been part of the Roman Empire as the "exotic east"?
This is why I have stalled at reading the book since picking it up. I really hope that Frankopan's message is different from what I got out of the Introduction, but from what I read so far I have doubts about the book.
I hope Frankopan develops a better explanation of where he is going with this book.
Below, just for fun, is one of the personal highlights of my trip to Berlin in April: I finally go to visit the Ishtar Gate at the Pergamon Museum. Built around 575 BCE, the gate was one of the entrances to the inner city of Babylon. It was excavated in the early 20th century and a reconstruction using original bricks, completed in 1930.