Royal Asiatic Society

Member Profile

Professor Peter Frankopan


Peter Frankopan is Professor of Global History and Director of the Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research. He is also UNESCO Professor of Silk Roads Studies at King’s College, Cambridge. He read History at Jesus College, Cambridge before doing his doctorate at Corpus Christi College, Oxford where he was Senior Scholar. He came to Worcester as  a Junior Research Fellow in 1997 and has been Senior Research Fellow since 2000.

Peter has been named as one of the World’s 50 Top Thinkers (Prospect), ‘the rockstar historian du jour’ (Sunday Times) and the ‘first great historian of the 21st century’ by Brazil’s DCM magazine.

Peter works on the history of Russia, Ukraine, the Middle East, Iran, Central and South Asia and China. His book The First Crusade: The Call from the East (2012) was described as ‘overturning a millennium of scholarship’ and the most significant contribution to rethinking the origins and course of the First Crusade for a generation.’

His book, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (2015) was Sunday Times Book of the Decade, New York Times Bestseller and topped the non-fiction charts in the UK, UAE, India, China and beyond. It was described as ‘magnificent’ (Sunday Times) ‘ dazzling’ (Guardian), ‘a rare book that makes you question your assumptions about the world’ (Wall St Journal), ‘a treasure’ (Libre Belgique), ‘phenomenal’ (Die Welt), ‘a joy’ (Le Point) and ‘not just the most important history book in years, but the most important in decades’ (Berliner Zeitung). It was named one of the 25 most important books translated into Chinese of the last forty years, alongside Pride and Prejudice and The Great Gatsby.

His most recent book is The Earth Transformed: an Untold History which looks at the natural environment and the role it has played in shaping the past. An instant bestseller in the UK, Australia, the Netherlands, Canada and Germany, it has been described as ‘a mighty history….an endlessly fascinating book’ with the ‘the intellectual weight and dramatic force of a tsunami’ (The Times), ‘masterly’ (Observer), ‘a dazzling compendium of global research’ (Spectator), ‘an epic historical saga’ (TLS) ‘a staggering, almost insanely ambitious book’ (Volkskrant) and ‘a remarkable piece of work’ (New Indian Express). It is ‘a completely new view of the history of mankind, which sheds a different light on our own future’ (Die Zeit), one that blends ‘brilliant historical writing and cutting-edge scientific research’ (Arab News). ‘Humanity has transformed the Earth’ said the Financial Times, ‘Frankopan transforms our understanding of history.’