Silk Road Reference
*Reference Works for the Islamic World
History of the Civilizations of Central Asia, 5 vols. to date (Paris:
1992-2000). There is also an Indian reprint of the first volumes but with
illustrations of inferior quality to those in the original.
The coverage is
Vol. I. The dawn of civilization: earliest times to 700 B.C.
Vol. II. The development of sedentary and nomadic
civilizations: 700 B.C. to A.D. 250
Vol. III. The crossroads of civilizations: A.D. 250 to 750
Vol. IV. The Age of Achievement: A.d. 750 to the end of the
fifteenth century. Part I: The historical, social and economic setting
Vol. IV. The age of achievement: A.D. 750 to the end of the
fifteenth century. Part II: The achievements.Although these
volumes can be read sequentially, probably most will wish to use them for
reference. All are by leading specialists, from various countries and academic
traditions (some of the material on religion, for example, seems to be treated
from somethng of a Marxist viewpoint). As with any collectively authored work,
the individual sections will vary considerably in style and readability. Many
chapters are fully accessible to the general reader; but others are much more
specialized. One virtue of the material is that it incorporates recent
archaeological evidence. Each volume contains abundant illustrations (until the
most recent volume, only in black and white) and a number of carefully drawn
maps. Every chapter has a substantial bibliography of materials in various
Cambridge Encyclopedias and Histories. There are various single and
multi-volume histories published by Cambridge University Press. Some are
intended for a general audience; others are more specialized. All are written by
academic specialists; most volumes are collectively authored. Some of the single
volume works are available now in paperback; there may also be more recent
editions than the ones I cite. I have chosen to list the "illustrated histories"
on my history pages, since those books are generally very good for the beginner
wanting general information.
The Cambridge Encyclopedia of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh,
Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives, Francis Robinson, ed. (1989)
The Cambridge History of Early Inner Asia, Denis Sinor
ed. (1990). Essays on pre-Mongol Inner Asia by the best experts on that
difficult history. While the volume can be read through with profit, its
rather dry and often detailed emphasis on political history does not encourage
the casual reader. The value of the book can be really appreciated as one
begins to acquire enough knowledge to put the essays into a meaningful broader
The Cambridge History of China, Denis Twitchett and
John K. Fairbank, general editors (Cambridge [Eng.]; New York : Cambridge
University Press, 1978-). Of a projected 15 volumes, the following volumes
have been published to date: v. 1. The Ch'in and Han Empires, 221 B.C.-A.D.
220 -- v. 3. Sui and T'ang China, 589-906, pt. 1 -- v. 6. Alien regimes and
border states, 907-1368 -- v. 7. The Ming dynasty, 1368-1644, pt. 1 -- v. 8.
The Ming dynasty, 1368-1644, pt. 2 -- v. 10-11. Late Ch`ing, 1800-1911 -- v.
11. Late Ch`ing, 1800-1911, pt. 2 -- v. 12-13. Republican China, 1912-1949 --
v.14-15. The People's Republic.
The Cambridge history of Iran (Cambridge: University
Press, 1968-). Contents: v. 1. The land of Iran / edited by W. B. Fisher -- v.
2. The Median and Achaemenian periods / edited by Ilya Gershevitch -- v. 3.
The Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian periods / edited by Ehsan Yarshater (2
pts.) -- v. 4. The period from the Arab invasion to the Saljuqs -- v. 5. The
Saljuq and Mongol periods / edited by J. A. Boyle --v. 6. The Timurid and
Safavid periods / edited by Peter Jackson and Laurence Lockhart--v.7. From
Nadir Shah to the Islamic Republic / edited by Peter Avery.
Reference Works for the Islamic World
*Index Islamicus, 1665-1905 : A Bibliography of Articles on
Islamic Subjects in Periodicals and Other Collective Publications.
Wolfgang Behn, comp. (Millersville, Pa.: Adiyok, c1989);
Islamicus. An ongoing bibliography starting with coverage from 1906. Some
libraries have a CD-ROM version which covers 1906-1999 and may be accessed
on-line by members of the subscribing institution. Quarterly supplements are
issued in hard copy.
*The Encyclopaedia of Islam. 10 vols. to date (2nd ed.)
(Leiden: Brill, 1960-). For the end of the alphabet, one can still consult the
first edition, but the material there is now quite dated. The first 9 volumes
of the second edition (A-S) and supplements are now most conveniently accessed
on a CD-ROM at workstations in many libraries. The CD-ROM version has the
advantage of linked cross-referencing. This is an authoritative reference
work, somewhat difficult of access until one learns the correct formal
transliteration system which is used for the entries. A Turkish translation of
the first edition exists, to which new entries have been added concerning
*Islamic Desk Reference. Compiled from The
Encyclopaedia of Islam by E. van Donzel (Leiden ; New York: E.J. Brill,
The Encyclopaedia Iranica. 9 vols. to date (10th was promised for
publication in Spring 2001) of a projected 25-30 vols. (London; Boston; Costa
Mesa, 1982-). Vols. 1-8 (A-E) are also available on-line:
vols. 1-6 in pdf format requiring the Adobe Acrobat reader and 7-8 requiring
downloading of a special font in order to view the proper transliteration of the
names. Of particular interest are the long entries on "Central Asia" and on
"Chinese-Iranian Relations" in Vol. 5.
© 2001 Daniel C. Waugh. Last updated December 23, 2001.
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