Eurasian Crossroads

A History of Xinjiang

February 2021 9781787383340 536pp
Available as an eBook
EU Customers


Xinjiang, the vast northwestern region comprising one sixth of the PRC today, borders on India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakstan, Russia and Mongolia. Since antiquity it has stood at the crossroads between China, India, the Mediterranean and Russia. In recent decades its historic silk road linkages have grown increasingly global, with issues of energy, development, separatism and terrorism bringing the region into the news. James Millward draws on primary sources and scholarly research in several European and Asian languages to provide the first general account in English of the history of Xinjiang and its peoples from earliest times to the present.

He discusses Xinjiang’s world historical role as a commercial entrepot and cultural conduit by which Buddhism, Christianity and Islam entered China and its interactions with Tibetan, Mongol and other Inner Asian empires as well as with Chinese dynasties. Eurasian Crossroads also examines the competing Chinese and Turkic nationalist visions of the region’s status in modern times and the recurring dissent and rapid development under the PRC. Within the broad perspective of this book it emerges that the factors underlying historical change in the region – its natural environment and geography, its physical location at the overlap of cultural realms and its legacy of ethno-linguistic diversity – remain as relevant to Xinjiang’s future as to its past.


‘[An] excellent … and invaluable book.’ — Jonathan Mirsky, New York Review of Books

‘The scope and depth of Mr. Millward’s latest text is unmatched.’ — Ilaria Maria Sala, Far Eastern Economic Review 

‘The requisite scholarly reading on the region.’ — Nicolas Becquelin, China Quarterly

‘[A] very accessible, well written history of Xinjiang.’ — Jeffrey Wasserstrom, ‘Best China Books of 2020’, Five Books

‘Well written, well documented, analytical, detailed and stimulating. I recommend it strongly. ‘ — Colin MacKerras, American Historical Review

‘The first successful attempt to grapple with the entire history of Xinjiang … Recommended.’ — Choice

Eurasian Crossroads is a highly readable history of this vast and crucial region, where China’s high-speed development drive collides with the aspirations of Muslim communities for national identity and cultural preservation. James Millward skillfully weaves all the different strands of Xinjiang’s complex history into the colorful tapestry of his book, which is set to become the definitive reference on Xinjiang for laymen and scholars alike.’ — Rob Gifford, former China correspondent for National Public Radio


James A. Millward is Associate Professor of History at Georgetown University, Washington, DC. His publications include Beyond the Pass: Economy, Ethnicity and Empire in Qing Xinjiang, 1759-1864, (1998).

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