Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang

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Columbia University Press, 2007 - History - 440 pages
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Eurasian Crossroads is the first comprehensive history of Xinjiang, the vast central Eurasian region bordering India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Mongolia. Forming one-sixth of the People's Republic of China (PRC), Xinjiang stands at the crossroads between China, India, the Mediterranean, and Russia and has, since the Bronze Age, played a pivotal role in the social, cultural, and political development of Asia and the world.

Xinjiang was once the hub of the Silk Road and the conduit through which Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam entered China. It was also the point at which the Chinese, Turkic, Tibetan, and Mongolian empires communicated and struggled with one another. Xinjiang's population comprises Kazakhs, Kirghiz, and Uighurs, all Turkic Muslim peoples, as well as Han Chinese, and competing Chinese and Turkic nationalist visions continue to threaten the region's political and economic stability. Besides separatist concerns, Xinjiang's energy resources, strategic position, and rapid development have gained it international attention in recent decades.

Drawing on primary sources in several Asian and European languages, James Millward presents a thorough study of Xinjiang's history and people from antiquity to the present and takes a balanced look at the position of Turkic Muslims within the PRC today. While offering fresh material and perspectives for specialists, this engaging survey of Xinjiang's rich environmental, cultural, and ethno-political heritage is also written for travelers, students, and anyone eager to learn about this vital connector between East and West.


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A very useful book. My only comment is that in his early history Millward doesn't include any references to the Qiang 羌 people who, according to the Han Shu chapter 96 on the Western Regions and the Weilüe of the Wei Shu in the Three Kingdoms Annals, were a significant presence along the southern silk route skirting the southern side of the Tarim Basin. 


Ancient Encounters earliest times8th century
Central Eurasia Ascendant 9th16th centuries
Between Islam and China 16th19th centuries
Between Empire and Nation late 19thearly 20th century
Between China and the Soviet Union 1910s1940s
In the Peoples Republic of China 1950s1980s
Between China and the World 1990s2000s
Balancing Acts
Xinjiang Historical Timeline
General Bibliography

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About the author (2007)

James Millward is professor of intersocietal history at the Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. He specializes in the history of China and Central Eurasia, including Xinjiang. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, a journalist, and two daughters.

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