The American historian Thomas T. Allsen, who passed away in February 2019, was an outstandingly influential figure in Mongol and Eurasian history. The Steppe and the Sea, his final intellectual project, was published posthumously. It presents a culmination of ideas he began in his earlier studies of gold brocade and the imperial hunt in Eurasia. In that work, Allsen's focus included international trade networks. He covered not only the trans-Asian east-west route (also known as the Silk Road) but also the north-south routes from tropical and subtropical seas to northern Eurasia. One of his key conclusions was that land and sea trade routes, merchants, and merchandise were inextricably and routinely linked, yet they had often been overlooked by historians.

Allsen was not one to focus exclusively on the Mongols, particularly later in his career, and this book fits his preference for the big-picture view. Thus, when discussing commerce in...

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