Scott C. Levi is Associate Professor of Central Asian History at Ohio State University. His research focuses on the social and economic history of Central Asia in the broader context of the early modern Indo-Islamic world. Gurcharan Das is a world-renowned author, commentator and public intellectual. His bestselling books include India Unbound and The Difficulty of Being Good; his newest book is India Grows at Night. A graduate of Harvard University, Das was CEO of Procter & Gamble India before he took early retirement to become a full-time writer. He lives in Delhi.
Caravans tells the fascinating story of tens of thousands of intrepid Multani and Shikarpuri merchants who risked everything to travel great distances and spend years of their lives pursuing their fortunes in foreign lands. From the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries, these merchants lived as 'guests' in cities and villages across Afghanistan, Central Asia, Iran and Russia. Setting aside beliefs that caravan traders were simple peddlers, Scott Levi examines the sophisticated techniques these merchants used to convert a modest amount of merchandise into vast portfolios of trade and moneylending ventures. Caravans also challenges the notion that the rising tide of European trade in the Indian Ocean usurped the overland 'Silk Road' trade and pushed Central Asia into economic isolation. In fact, as Levi shows, it was at precisely the same historical moment that thousands of Multanis began making their way to Central Asia, linking the early modern Indian and Central Asian economies closer together than ever before.