Raiders, Rulers, and Traders

The Horse and the Rise of Empires

13 September 2024

Territory Rights — Worldwide.


A captivating history of civilisation that reveals the central role of the horse in culture, commerce and conquest

No animal is so entangled in human history as the horse. The thread starts in prehistory, with a small, shy animal, hunted for food. Over time, the domestication of horses, followed by the advent of riding, powered mighty empires: Persian, Mongol, Mughal. For more than two millennia, from Iran and Afghanistan to China, India and, later, Russia, the deep and ancient bond between humans and their horses connected a vast continent, forged trade routes, linked cultures and fueled war machines.

Scholar of Asian history David Chaffetz tells the story of the Eurasian Steppe raiders, rulers and traders who amassed power and wealth on horseback from the Bronze Age through the twentieth century. Drawing on a wealth of primary sources—in Persian, Turkish, Russian and Chinese—Chaffetz presents a ground-breaking new view of what has been known as the “Silk Road”, and a lively history of the great horse empires that shaped civilisation.


"A fascinating, compelling, and scholarly history of horses, raiders, and rulers that brings the great horse-powered empires of Central Asia to life and places the horse at the center of world history where it belongs." — Simon Sebag Montefiore, best-selling author of The World: A Family History of Humanity

"A dog may be humanity’s best friend, but the horse is certainly the greatest ally. With the strength of horses added to their own modest physical abilities, humans radically changed everything from agriculture and transportation to sports and warfare. From milking to marauding, David Chaffetz’s Raiders, Rulers, and Traders takes the reader on a well-paced ride through the history of this revolutionary and emotional alliance of human and animal." — Jack Weatherford, best-selling author of Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World



160 x 236 mm • 448 pages


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