From Silk To Silicon


The Story of Globalization Through Ten Extraordinary Lives

An arresting and highly-engaging new look at how globalization has changed world history and how it continues to shape our lives.

Globalization has proved to be the most powerful and disruptive economic force of the last century, but most books on the subject have examined it through impersonal trends and policies. In From Silk to Silicon, Jeffrey Garten provides a brilliant corrective—an eye-opening and entertaining narrative of how our ever-smaller, interconnected world evolved, through the stories of ten extraordinary people who unleashed globalization’s forces over the past one-thousand years. Garten gives us a vivid picture of their lives and times – who they were, what they did, how they did it, and how their achievements continue to affect our world today.

Among the people you will meet are:

• Genghis Khan, who united east and west by conquest and by opening new trade routes built on groundbreaking transportation, communications, and management innovations.

• Mayer Amschel Rothschild, who arose from an oppressive Jewish ghetto to establish the most powerful bank the world has seen and ushered in an era of international finance.

• Cyrus Field, who became the father of global communications by leading the effort to build the transatlantic telegraph, the forerunner to international radio, TV, and the worldwide Internet.

• Margaret Thatcher, who turned back the tides of socialism and opened new avenues for free markets to link economies across borders.

• Andy Grove, a Hungarian who survived the Nazi occupation and escaped from Soviet oppression, whose innovations in managing high-technology industries resulted in the mass production of the microscopic computer chips that are fueling today’s communications revolution.

Through these riveting stories of people overcoming all manner of hardships, navigating the swirling currents of their times, and ultimately creating spectacular change in the course of human history, Garten probes critical questions, including: What do these people have in common? What legacy did each leave? What do their stories tell us about globalization today? What do they imply for the future?

With the Internet tying the world together in ways that would have been unfathomable just a few years ago, with the economic ups and downs of China and other emerging nations whipsawing international markets, and with terrorism causing the largest refugee flows since the end of World War II, a fresh way of thinking about globalization could not be more urgent. That is exactly what From Silk to Silicon provides.

Advance Praise for From Silk to Silicon

“This is a tale of globalization and leadership that is both sweeping and personal. By focusing on ten transformational people, it shows how individuals can affect the flow of history. It’s a guide to the future as well as to the past.”
—WALTER ISAACSON, author of Steve Jobs, Einstein, and Benjamin Franklin

From Silk to Silicon creatively combines the impersonal forces of globalization with the very personal faces of biography in an engaging and thought-provoking story. Ranging over eight centuries of empires, exploration, and enterprise, Garten’s colorful histories portray how willpower and persistence can propel societies to new achievements—and he says the best is yet to come!”
—ROBERT B. ZOELLICK, former president of the World Bank, U.S. trade representative, and U.S. deputy secretary of state

“Impressive, fascinating, and very creative. Jeffrey Garten draws on decades of experience in the modern world economy to tell the story of globalization and, in so doing, not only brings the creation of our present world into focus but also widens our understanding of how the world may well evolve in the future.”
—DANIEL YERGIN, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Prize, author of The Quest, and coauthor of The Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy

“Jeffrey Garten has brilliantly updated Thomas Carlyle’s Great Man Theory of History in his gallery of transformative figures, notably including a woman, who have spurred globalization. A tour-de-force–imaginative, informative and just plain fun to read.”
—STROBE TALBOTT, president of The Brookings Institution, former U.S. deputy secretary of state, and former editor-at-large, TIME Magazine

From Silk to Silicon is a most nifty work, as well as being serious history. Garten persuasively shows how, in the broad unfolding of events that brought us from the Dark Ages to the twenty-first century, individuals really did make their own history and changed things irrevocably.  Here are case studies for business schools, lessons for CEOs, and a good read for the rest of us.”
—PAUL KENNEDY, author of The Rise and Fall of The Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict From 1500-2000, and Preparing for the Twenty-First Century

“By painting vivid portraits of ten visionary ‘doers’ who shaped the thousand-year history of global interconnectedness, Garten provides a rich context for thinking about today’s formidable current policy challenges. Not only do the book’s pages echo in today’s news, but they have much to teach about the importance of creativity, decisiveness, thoughtful risk-taking, and perseverance in effective leadership.”
—ROBERT RUBIN, Co-chairman, Council on Foreign Relations and former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury

“Garten compellingly recounts how ten individuals helped shape the modern world, reminding us of the possibilities begat by transformative leadership.”
—DR. HENRY KISSINGER, former U.S. Secretary of State

“Succinct, erudite and entertaining, From Silk to Silicon is a most original account of the genesis of globalization.”
—Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León, former President of Mexico and Director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization