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Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

4.2 83
by Jack Weatherford

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The Mongol army led by Genghis Khan subjugated more lands and people in twenty-five years than the Romans did in four hundred. In nearly every country the Mongols conquered, they brought an unprecedented rise in cultural communication, expanded trade, and a blossoming of civilization. Vastly more progressive than his European or Asian counterparts, Genghis Khan


The Mongol army led by Genghis Khan subjugated more lands and people in twenty-five years than the Romans did in four hundred. In nearly every country the Mongols conquered, they brought an unprecedented rise in cultural communication, expanded trade, and a blossoming of civilization. Vastly more progressive than his European or Asian counterparts, Genghis Khan abolished torture, granted universal religious freedom, and smashed feudal systems of aristocratic privilege. From the story of his rise through the tribal culture to the explosion of civilization that the Mongol Empire unleashed, this brilliant work of revisionist history is nothing less than the epic story of how the modern world was made.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"There is very little time for reading in my new job. But of the few books I've read, my favourite is Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford (Crown Publishers, New York). It's a fascinating book portraying Genghis Khan in a totally new light. It shows that he was a great secular leader, among other things."
—Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India

“Reads like the Iliad. . . Part travelogue, part epic narrative.”
—Washington Post

“It’s hard to think of anyone else who rose from such inauspicious beginnings to something so awesome, except maybe Jesus.”

“Weatherford’s lively analysis restores the Mongol’s reputation, and it takes wonderful learned detours. . . . Well written and full of suprises.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Weatherford is a fantastic storyteller. . . . [His] portrait of Khan is drawn with sufficiently self-complicating depth. . . . Weatherford’s account gives a generous view of the Mongol conqueror at his best and worst.”
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
The Washington Post
The result of Weatherford's eight-year quest is part travelogue, part epic narrative and part speculative musing that will certainly raise a few eyebrows among Mongolian scholars. Weatherford has a good eye for detail and a fluid style that makes for easy reading. The story of Genghis Khan's rise to power and extraordinary conquests across central Asia from China to the Middle East reads like the Iliad. — Louise Levathes
Publishers Weekly
Apart from its inapt title-Genghis Khan dies rather early on in this account and many of the battles are led by his numerous offspring-this book is a successful account of the century of turmoil brought to the world by a then little-known nation of itinerant hunters. In researching this book, Weatherford (Savages and Civilization), a professor of anthropology at Macalaster College, traveled thousands of miles, many on horseback, tracing Genghis Khan's steps into places unseen by Westerners since the khan's death and employing what he calls an "archeology of movement." Weatherford knows the story of the medieval Mongol conquests is gripping enough not to need superfluous embellishments-the personalities and the wars they waged provide plenty of color and suspense. In just 25 years, in a manner that inspired the blitzkrieg, the Mongols conquered more lands and people than the Romans had in over 400 years. Without pausing for too many digressions, Weatherford's brisk description of the Mongol military campaign and its revolutionary aspects analyzes the rout of imperial China, a siege of Baghdad and the razing of numerous European castles. On a smaller scale, Weatherford also devotes much attention to dismantling our notions of Genghis Khan as a brute. By his telling, the great general was a secular but faithful Christian, a progressive free trader, a regretful failed parent and a loving if polygamous husband. With appreciative descriptions of the sometimes tender tyrant, this chronicle supplies just enough personal and world history to satisfy any reader. (Mar. 23) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-An interesting, thought-provoking account of the conqueror's life and legacy. From his early years as the son of a widow abandoned by her clan, he showed remarkable ability as a charismatic leader and unifier. In 25 years, his army amassed a greater empire than the Romans had been able to achieve in 400. Whether judged on population or land area, it was twice as large as that of any other individual in history. This colorful retelling discusses many of the innovations that marked Khan's rule and contributed to his success. Although his name is now erroneously associated with terror and slaughter, he showed surprising restraint during a time when few others in power did. He allowed freedom of religion, encouraged free trade, developed a paper currency, and observed diplomatic immunity. As he encountered new cultures, he adopted or adapted their best practices, and constantly updated his military strategies. Although Khan's death occurs at the midpoint of this book, the tales of his survivors' exploits and the gradual fall of the Mongol dynasties are engaging and informative. Weatherford's efforts to credit Genghis Khan and his descendants with the ideas and innovations that created the Renaissance are a bit bewildering, but readers will be left with a new appreciation of a maligned culture, and a desire to learn more.-Kathy Tewell, Chantilly Regional Library, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
"The Mongols swept across the globe as conquerors," writes the appreciative pop anthropologist-historian Weatherford (The History of Money, 1997, etc.), "but also as civilization's unrivaled cultural carriers." No business-secrets fluffery here, though Weatherford does credit Genghis Khan and company for seeking "not merely to conquer the world but to impose a global order based on free trade, a single international law, and a universal alphabet with which to write all the languages of the world." Not that the world was necessarily appreciative: the Mongols were renowned for, well, intemperance in war and peace, even if Weatherford does go rather lightly on the atrocities-and-butchery front. Instead, he accentuates the positive changes the Mongols, led by a visionary Genghis Khan, brought to the vast territories they conquered, if ever so briefly: the use of carpets, noodles, tea, playing cards, lemons, carrots, fabrics, and even a few words, including the cheer hurray. (Oh, yes, and flame throwers, too.) Why, then, has history remembered Genghis and his comrades so ungenerously? Whereas Geoffrey Chaucer considered him "so excellent a lord in all things," Genghis is a byword for all that is savage and terrible; the word "Mongol" figures, thanks to the pseudoscientific racism of the 19th century, as the root of "mongoloid," a condition attributed to genetic throwbacks to seed sown by Mongol invaders during their decades of ravaging Europe. (Bad science, that, but Dr. Down's son himself argued that imbeciles "derived from an earlier form of the Mongol stock and should be considered more 'pre-human, rather than human.' ") Weatherford's lively analysis restores the Mongols' reputation, and ittakes some wonderful learned detours-into, for instance, the history of the so-called Secret History of the Mongols, which the Nazis raced to translate in the hope that it would help them conquer Russia, as only the Mongols had succeeded in doing. A horde-pleaser, well-written and full of surprises. Agency: Wallace Literary Agency

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Read an Excerpt

The Blood Clot

There is fire in his eyes and light in his face.

The Secret History of the Mongols

Of the thousands of cities conquered by the Mongols, history only mentions one that Genghis Khan deigned to enter. Usually, when victory became assured, he withdrew with his court to a distant and more pleasant camp while his warriors completed their tasks. On a March day in 1220, the Year of the Dragon, the Mongol conqueror broke with his peculiar tradition by leading his cavalry into the center of the newly conquered city of Bukhara, one of the most important cities belonging to the sultan of Khwarizm in what is now Uzbekistan. Although neither the capital nor the major commercial city, Bukhara occupied an exalted emotional position throughout the Muslim world as Noble Bukhara, the center of religious piety known by the epithet "the ornament and delight to all Islam." Knowing fully the propaganda value of his actions by conquering and entering the city, Genghis Khan rode triumphantly through the city gates, past the warren of wooden houses and vendors' stalls, to the large cluster of stone and brick buildings at the center of the city.

His entry into Bukhara followed the successful conclusion of possibly the most audacious surprise attack in military history. While one part of his army took the direct route from Mongolia to attack the sultan's border cities head-on, he had secretly pulled and pushed another division of warriors over a distance longer than any other army had ever covered—two thousand miles of desert, mountains, and steppe—to appear deep behind enemy lines, where least expected. Even trade caravans avoided the Kyzyl Kum, the fabled Red Desert, by detouring hundreds of miles to avoid it; and that fact, of course, was precisely why Genghis Khan chose to attack from that direction. By befriending the nomads of the area, he was able to lead his army on a hitherto unknown track through the stone and sand desert.

His targeted city of Bukhara stood at the center of a fertile oasis astride one of the tributaries of the Amu Darya inhabited mostly by Tajik or Persian people, but ruled by Turkic tribesmen in the newly created empire of Khwarizm, one of the many transitory empires of the era. The sultan of Khwarizm had, in a grievously fatal mistake, provoked the enmity of Genghis Khan by looting a Mongol trade caravan and disfiguring the faces of Mongol ambassadors sent to negotiate peaceful commerce. Although nearly sixty years old, when Genghis Khan heard of the attack on his men, he did not hesitate to summon his disciplined and experienced army once again to their mounts and to charge down the road of war.

In contrast to almost every major army in history, the Mongols traveled lightly, without a supply train. By waiting until the coldest months to make the desert crossing, men and horses required less water. Dew also formed during this season, thereby stimulating the growth of some grass that provided grazing for horses and attracted game that the men eagerly hunted for their own sustenance. Instead of transporting slow-moving siege engines and heavy equipment with them, the Mongols carried a faster-moving engineer corps that could build whatever was needed on the spot from available materials. When the Mongols came to the first trees after crossing the vast desert, they cut them down and made them into ladders, siege engines, and other instruments for their attack.

When the advance guard spotted the first small settlement after leaving the desert, the rapidly moving detachment immediately changed pace, moving now in a slow, lumbering procession, as though they were merchants coming to trade, rather than with the speed of warriors on the attack. The hostile force nonchalantly ambled up to the gates of the town before the residents realized who they were and sounded an alarm.

Upon emerging unexpectedly from the desert, Genghis Khan did not race to attack Bukhara immediately. He knew that no reinforcements could leave the border cities under attack by his army, and he therefore had time to play on the surprise in a tortured manipulation of public fear and hope. The objective of such tactics was simple and always the same: to frighten the enemy into surrendering before an actual battle began. By first capturing several small towns in the vicinity, Genghis Khan's army set many local people to flight toward Bukhara as refugees who not only filled the city but greatly increased the level of terror in it. By striking deeply behind the enemy lines, the Mongols immediately created havoc and panic throughout the kingdom. As the Persian chronicler Ata-Malik Juvaini described his approach, when the people saw the countryside all around them "choked with horsemen and the air black as night with the dust of cavalry, fright and panic overcame then, and fear and dread prevailed." In preparing the psychological attack on a city, Genghis Khan began with two examples of what awaited the people. He offered generous terms of surrender to the outlying communities, and the ones that accepted the terms and joined the Mongols received great leniency. In the words of the Persian chronicler, "whoever yields and submits to them is safe and free from the terror and disgrace of their severity." Those that refused received exceptionally harsh treatment, as the Mongols herded the captives before them to be used as cannon fodder in the next attack.

The tactic panicked the Turkic defenders of Bukhara. Leaving only about five hundred soldiers behind to man the citadel of Bukhara, the remaining army of twenty thousand soldiers fled in what they thought was still time before the main Mongol army arrived. By abandoning their fortress and dispersing in flight, they sprung Genghis Khan's trap, and the Mongol warriors, who were already stationed in wait for the fleeing soldiers, cut them down at a nearly leisurely pace.

The civilian population of Bukhara surrendered and opened the city gates, but the small contingent of defiant soldiers remained in their citadel, where they hoped that the massive walls would allow them to hold out indefinitely against any siege. To more carefully assess the overall situation, Genghis Khan made his unprecedented decision to enter the city. One of his first acts on reaching the center of Bukhara, or upon accepting the surrender of any people, was to summon them to bring fodder for his horses. Feeding the Mongol warriors and their horses was taken as a sign of submission by the conquered; more important, by receiving the food and fodder, Genghis Khan signaled his acceptance of the people as vassals entitled to Mongol protection as well as subject to his command.

From the time of his central Asian conquests, we have one of the few written descriptions of Genghis Khan, who was about sixty years old. The Persian chronicler Minhaj al-Siraj Juzjani, who was far less kindly disposed toward the Mongols than the chronicler Juvaini, described him as "a man of tall stature, of vigorous build, robust in body, the hair on his face scanty and turned white, with cats' eyes, possessed of dedicated energy, discernment, genius, and understanding, awe-striking, a butcher, just, resolute, an overthrower of enemies, intrepid, sanguinary, and cruel." Because of his uncanny ability to destroy cities and conquer armies many times the size of his own, the chronicler also goes on to declare that Genghis Khan was "adept at magic and deception, and some of the devils were his friends."

Eyewitnesses reported that upon reaching the center of Bukhara, Genghis Khan rode up to the large mosque and asked if, since it was the largest building in the city, it was the home of the sultan. When informed that it was the house of God, not the sultan, he said nothing. For the Mongols, the one God was the Eternal Blue Sky that stretched from horizon to horizon in all four directions. God presided over the whole earth; he could not be cooped up in a house of stone like a prisoner or a caged animal, nor, as the city people claimed, could his words be captured and confined inside the covers of a book. In his own experience, Genghis Khan had often felt the presence and heard the voice of God speaking directly to him in the vast open air of the mountains in his homeland, and by following those words, he had become the conqueror of great cities and huge nations.

Genghis Khan dismounted from his horse in order to walk into the great mosque, the only such building he is known to have ever entered in his life. Upon entering, he ordered that the scholars and clerics feed his horses, freeing them from further danger and placing them under his protection, as he did with almost all religious personnel who came under his control. Next, he summoned the 280 richest men of the city to the mosque. Despite his limited experience inside city walls, Genghis Khan still had a keen grasp of the working of human emotion and sentiment. Before the assembled men in the mosque, Genghis Khan took a few steps up the pulpit stairs, then turned to face the elite of Bukhara. Through interpreters, he lectured them sternly on the sins and misdeeds of their sultan and themselves. It was not the common people who were to blame for these failures; rather, "it is the great ones among you who have committed these sins. If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you." He then gave each rich man into the control of one of his Mongol warriors, who would go with him and collect his treasure. He admonished his rich prisoners not to bother showing them the wealth above the ground; the Mongols could find that without assistance. He wanted them to guide them only to their hidden or buried treasure.

Having begun the systematic plundering of the city, Genghis Khan turned his attention to attacking the Turkic warriors still defiantly sealed inside the citadel of Bukhara. Although not familiar with the Mongols in particular, the people in the urbanized oases of central Asian cities like Bukhara and Samarkand had seen many barbarian armies come and go through the centuries. Prior tribal armies, no matter how brave or disciplined, never posed a severe threat because urban armies, so long as they had food and water, could hold out indefinitely behind the massive walls of their forts. By most measures, the Mongols should have been no match for the professionally trained career soldiers they encountered at Bukhara. Although the Mongols had excellent bows in general, each man was responsible for making or acquiring his own, and the quality of workmanship varied. Similarly, the Mongol army was composed of all the males of the tribe, who depended on the ruggedness of their upbringing herding animals for their training; and while they were hardy, disciplined, and devoted to their tasks, they lacked the professional selection and training of the defenders of Bukhara. The greatest factor in favor of the soldiers holed up behind the massive stone walls of the citadel was that no tribal army had ever mastered the complex technology of siege warfare, but Genghis Khan had something to show them.

The attack was designed as a show of overwhelming strength for which the audience was not the already conquered people of Bukhara, but the still distant army and people of Samarkand, the next city on his march. The Mongol invaders rolled up their newly constructed siege engines—catapults, trebuchets, and mangonels that hurled not only stones and fire, as besieging armies had done for centuries, but also pots of burning liquids, exploding devices, and incendiary materials. They maneuvered immense crossbows mounted on wheels, and great teams of men pushed in portable towers with retractable ladders from which they could shoot down at the defenders of the walls. At the same time that they attacked through the air, miners went to work digging into the earth to undermine the walls by sapping. During this awesome display of technological prowess in the air, on the land, and beneath the earth, Genghis Khan heightened the psychological tension by forcing prisoners, in some cases the captured comrades of the men still in the citadel, to rush forward until their bodies filled the moat and made live ramparts over which other prisoners pushed the engines of war.

The Mongols devised and used weapons from the different cultures with whom they had contact, and through this accumulation of knowledge they created a global arsenal that could be adapted to whatever situation they encountered. In their flaming and exploding weapons, the Mongols experimented with early forms of armaments that would later become mortars and cannons. In the description of Juvaini, we sense the confusion of the witnesses in accounting for exactly what happened around them. He described the Mongol assault as "like a red-hot furnace fed from without by hard sticks thrust into the recesses, while from the belly of the furnace sparks shoot into the air." Genghis Khan's army combined the traditional fierceness and speed of the steppe warrior with the highest technological sophistication of Chinese civilization. Genghis Khan used his fast-moving and well-trained cavalry against the enemy's infantry on the ground, while negating the protective power of the fortress walls with the new technology of bombardment using firepower and unprecedented machines of destruction to penetrate the fortress and terrorize its defenders. With fire and death raining down on the men in the citadel, the warriors of the sultan, in Juvaini's words, quickly "drowned in the sea of annihilation."

Genghis Khan recognized that warfare was not a sporting contest or a mere match between rivals; it was a total commitment of one people against another. Victory did not come to the one who played by the rules; it came to the one who made the rules and imposed them on his enemy. Triumph could not be partial. It was complete, total, and undeniable—or it was nothing. In battle, this meant the unbridled use of terror and surprise. In peace, it meant the steadfast adherence to a few basic but unwavering principles that created loyalty among the common people. Resistance would be met with death, loyalty with security.

His attack on Bukhara ranked as a success, not merely because the people of that city surrendered, but because when word of the Mongol campaign reached the capital of Samarkand, that army surrendered as well. The sultan fled his kingdom, and the Mongol juggernaut pushed onward. Genghis Khan himself took the main part of the army across the mountains of Afghanistan and on to the Indus River, while another detachment circled around the Caspian Sea, through the Caucasus Mountains, and onto the plains of Russia. For precisely seven hundred years, from that day in 1220 until 1920, when the Soviets moved in, Genghis Khan's descendants ruled as khans and emirs over the city of Bukhara in one of the longest family dynasties in history.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"There is very little time for reading in my new job. But of the few books I've read, my favourite is Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford (Crown Publishers, New York). It's a fascinating book portraying Genghis Khan in a totally new light. It shows that he was a great secular leader, among other things."
—Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India

“Reads like the Iliad. . . Part travelogue, part epic narrative.”
Washington Post

“It’s hard to think of anyone else who rose from such inauspicious beginnings to something so awesome, except maybe Jesus.”

“Weatherford’s lively analysis restores the Mongol’s reputation, and it takes wonderful learned detours. . . . Well written and full of suprises.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Weatherford is a fantastic storyteller. . . . [His] portrait of Khan is drawn with sufficiently self-complicating depth. . . . Weatherford’s account gives a generous view of the Mongol conqueror at his best and worst.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune

Meet the Author

JACK WEATHERFORD is the New York Times bestselling author of Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World; Indian Givers: How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World; The Secret History of the Mongol Queens; and The History of Money, among other acclaimed books. A specialist in tribal peoples, he was for many years a professor of anthropology at Macalaster College in Minnesota and divides his time between the US and Mongolia.

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Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 83 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To be honest, the thought of reading a book all about history would have disgusted me only a few days ago. And the truth is, it still does. However, this book is not just another boring list of facts; it's an engaging and informative piece that tells me what I need to know in a way that I want to learn it. I'm not going to say that this book is the greatest I have ever read, because it's not, but in the realm of books about history, I would definitely recommend this. There isn't a great deal of big words or unneccessary information in this book. However, the greatest thing about this book, for me, was the topic. The Mongols were such an important part of history, and the impact of their rule still exists in our world today. Just that was enough to draw me in. I hadn't heard of Jack Weatherford before reading this book, and when I read about his credentials, I thought he would definitely be the type of author who drones on and on about a topic. But as I've already stressed to point out, this was not the case at all. At the beginning of each chapter, Mr. Weatherford quotes a short, blunt, yet thought-provoking phrase. This phrase then stays in the reader's mind throughout the extent of the chapter; this technique is one that causes you to subconsciously make connections that then amplify themselves later on in the book. The careful construction and layout of this book makes it a very effective learning experience. Overall, I would have to say that this book shines a whole new light on the life and rule of Genghis Khan, his well-thought out war plans and tactics, and the carefully crafted civilization he left behind. If you are even remotely interested by the Mongols, I would say definitely give this book a chance.
Jimgraz More than 1 year ago
I was excited to read a book about Ghengis Khan that was not written in the classic "textbook" fashion. This book, however, should be called "The Mongol Empire and the Making of the Modern World." Ghengis Khan is pretty much done by page 100 and there is a great deal of time spent on what happens to the Mongol Empire thereafter. In a way, I wsh this book were either longer or shorter. For the period of time it covers, the paucity of pages means that the author glosses over what no doubt would be fascinating topics. This may be a function of the record-keeping at the time, though, and maybe there isn't a lot he can delve into. While there were some facinatig bits and the examination of the Mongol fihgting style was interesting, I just constantly felt as if the book could have been better. One example is the creation of a Navy and attempted invasion of Japan by Kubilai Khan (who receives possibly more pages than Ghengis). There had to be more to tell here, but ther author spends a few scant pages on two attempts to onvade Japan. Likewise, the bubonic plague and period of time where the Mongol leaders were killing each other off in a great power struggle received very scant treatment, though they semed fertile and interesting ground. In short, this is not consistent with the recent trend of well-written, enlightening history books. It is written in a very textbook style and unfortunately gosses over much of the interesting history. The author makes numerous statements that he either is making up, or simply failed to provide backup for. I was very disappointed in this book and would notrecommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My impression of "Genghis Khan", by Jack Weatherford, is rather good. Weatherford does an excellent job discussing various topics concerning the Mongols, such as Genghis Khan's childhood, many Mongols invasions, and the mannorisms and traditions that governed the majority of the Mongol people. I personally did not know very much about the Mongols, except that they ransacked cities, so this book did extremely well in eductating me on the various aspects of the Mongol civilization. Although Weaterford provides excessive amounts of information on the Mongols, the book is particularly slow at certain points. For example, reading about plunder the same city for a couple of pages seems unnecessarily drawn out at some points. Other than those few circumstances, the book was entertaining in general, and it contains a great deal of information about Genghis Khan and the Mongol empire. "Genghis Khan" by Jack Weatherford is an excellent book to read for anyone wishing to learn more about the Mongol empire and their ruthless founder, Genghis Khan. Weatherford accomplishes his goal of showing readers how the Mongol empire came to be, and what lead to Genghis Khan's transformation to the leader and founder of this huge civilization. This book is extremely successful in doing this because it is written following the Mongols. This characteristic is different from most historical works concerning the Mongols that are tainted by the bias of the accounts of the Mongols from the time period-all of which are written by the societies being attacked by the Mongols. So overall, this an excellent read to better understand Genghis Khan and the Mongol civilization.
ProseSax More than 1 year ago
Genghis Khan is one of those names that floats the earlier chapters of 'World History' books with little detail to illuminate the myths. Mr. Weatherford supplies much original research to a book that is packed with fascinating portrait of a man and a family whose empire at its height stretched from Vienna to Korea!
Genghis sacked cities with a system: people with useful occupations were asborbed into his empire; peasants could stay or leave; the rich were exterminated.People who were allowed to escape his purges spread the word of his barbaric practices. This prooved to be an effective way of manipulating his image so that future cities would capitulate more quickly. In this manner the empire spread, with a working mail delivery system, and unified commerce with prices and trade tightly controlled.
The unravelling of this world took a few generations and is described in surprising detail, considering the brevity of the book.
For a fast paced look at a little understood person and epoch, this book will hook anyone even remotely interested in history.
trvlnchic More than 1 year ago
This book is very informative for students who have an interest in history. Jack Weatherford gives a complete circle of the real Genghis Khan and what he did for his people and how he continues to affect our everyday lives some 782 years later. The misconception that GK was a brutal leader is the interpretation from ancient Chinese rule. The Secret History of the Mongols, once discovered, painted an extremely different picture of this humbled conqueror. In my research of this amazing man, I found that Weatherford is cited in several other articles, papers, etc. I have thoroughly enjoyed researching and learning about a conqueror who gave his own wealth back to his Nomadic people and his highly sophisticated army. He was not afraid to surround himself with people more talented and intelligent. GK had the foresight and understanding that if he wanted to advance the life of his people, he needed those more skilled in different areas than him. This book is an awesome understanding of Genghis Khan the Greatest Ruler ever!
Tom_Ucity More than 1 year ago
This is an easy to read history which goes far beyond Genghis Khan. Besides giving what is known of his personal history and conquests, it goes into the competitions among his successors and describes many innovations of Mongol governments and how they have affected history and the modern world. This is done in surprisingly few pages, without too much academic apparatus. Author does note contrary opinions without getting distracted into long arguments. Gives some help in understanding the origins of Asia outside of Russia, China, and India.
quilter17 More than 1 year ago
This is not a page turner, but it is an extremely informative novel about an area and a people I knew very little about. The research that Jack Weatherford did to write this book is impressive. The book is much more than Genghis Khan. It is about generations after him also. Some of his ancestors were not as smart as he was so they did not work together. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes history and the study of people and their relationships to each other.
Guest More than 1 year ago
â¿¿When Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain in 1492 he was heading for Cathay, the land of the Great Khan.â¿ David Morgan (quoted on p. 241) Columbus sought to reestablish the lost trade connection between Europe and the Mongol domains over the ocean after the land route became inaccessible. What made the Mongol court so attractive that the European monarchs agreed to finance this expedition? Prof. Weatherford presents a fascinating story a single manâ¿¿s life and shows how life experiences shaped his world view. Chingis Khan was not born onto a throne. His military-political career started by a fateful accident which lead to a long sequence of difficult choices that eventually made him the founder of a new nation. The nation he created was small but qualitatively different from all contemporaries. A progressive reformer, Chingis Khan created first an army and then a kingdom founded on values that he followed throughout his life. Most of the Mongol Empire was conquered by his sons and grandsons, but his legacy was so strong that only the Great Plague succeeded in undermining it. Perhaps, the greatest merit of this book is in the way it presents a balanced view of the â¿¿goodsâ¿ and â¿¿badsâ¿ of Mongol conquests, treating them like we view today, for example, the colonization of America. â¿¿In conquering their empire, not only had the Mongols revolutionized warfare, they also created the nucleus of a universal culture and world system. This new global culture continued to grow long after the demise of the Mongol Empire, and through continued development over the coming centuries, it became the foundation for the modern world system with the original Mongol emphases on free commerce, open communication, shared knowledge, secular politics, religious coexistence, international law, and diplomatic immunity.â¿ (p. 234) Towards the end of the book, Prof. Weatherford also discusses the rise of a general anti-Asian sentiment in the West starting in the eighteenth century but still very strong up to this day. These attitudes frequently centered on the Mongols and culminated in extreme Social Darwinist theories circa World War II. At the beginning of the twenty first century, when the center of gravity of the world economy is again shifting to the East, the story of the rise and fall of the Mongol Empire has a lot to teach us. Growing trade and prosperity demanded ever more trade and prosperity from the Mongol rulers. Failing to provide this to their subjects because of an epidemic, the rulers turned to other means to legitimize their power. This shift towards nationalism and religion signified the reversal of Chingis Khanâ¿¿s reforms and eventually the undoing of his empire. If history does teach us something, it teaches us patterns. It is this pattern that we should beware of.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The organisation he brought to parts of the world was amazing
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even if you thought you knew all you needed to know about Genghis Khan, this book provides some amazing insights until a little know period, relying heavily on a "Secret History" that defied translation for more than 750 years. Rather than lead a "Mongol horde" across from the Far East to Eastern Europe. Genghis Khan could actually be described as progressive in his treatment of those he conquored and in his military tactics. And who knew a papal emissary helped drive the Mongols away from Christianity? Well worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Never had any idea Genghis Khan was anything but a ruthless killer. He was that for sure, but also so much more. Great read..
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Definitely good!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
APWH Review: this is an exceptional book about the life and adventure of Genghis khan. Jack Wheatherford not only conveys the information but dose it in a smooth fashion that is easy to ready. this is a dense 217 page long tome of facts and information. it was fun to read and not boring like so many history books. most books on history lay down the facts and leave out the juicy, meaty parts that every one is interested in. the author doesn't just say "Genghis Khan was a cool guy who conquered this place and that place and then the one after that...." he talks about the structure of the army, the technology, how Genghis Khan tore apart so many of the mongol laws that held them from there true potential, details on how a city was conquered, how it was looted, and were the prisoners went. if you want to learn about Genghis Khan this is the way to do it. the best part is ...... it not JUST about Genghis Khan its about all the mongol empire. its like a mongol flavored 3 generation pie. it has Ogedi, Mongke, and Khublai Khan. this book has every thing from facts about mongol war to facts about religious tolerance. this book is great!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Groundbreaking and highly readable. Ive read it multiple times
RunAndBike More than 1 year ago
AP History Review: A history book that is actually extremely intersesting and helpful. Normally, I dislike reading any history book with a passion. History books just don't seem to have anough action and/or they don't grab your attention within the first chapter. This book is completely different. It talks
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book, very informative. Most important; even though your flooded with historical fact, it reads more like an epic such as the odyssey than a textbook. Highly recommend it !!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For about the past year, I have been fascinated by the Mongol Empire and its achievements. However, I didn't have a high level of legitimate knowledge about them, only a cluster of facts that were mostly just minor details. When it came time for me to do a book project for my AP World History Class, I jumped at the chance to read about the Mongols. And I was not disappointed by what I read. In the beginning, a very interesting narrative of Genghis Khan's early life as a boy named Temujin, and his struggles to become the man who would unite all the Mongol tribes and, in the long term, nearly all of Asia. As the book progressed to the techniques the Khan used in his empire, the book lost some of the early narrative style due to larger events being discussed, but retained all of the interest it held for me at the beginning. The Mongols were a very important force in world history, as they spread cultures in every direction in all of Asia, and were responsible for many major advancements, such as the cannon, purely because they spread various advancements and culture throughout the areas conquered. They revived the Silk Road and created the Yuan dynasty of China. The Italian merchant Marco Polo would at one point write a book of his travels in Asia, which would become a valuable resource for many Europeans. I could go on and on about the importance of the Mongols in world History, what has been said is just a sampling of their many achievements. But many people these days only know them as bloodthirsty barbarians who destroyed cities. Jack Weatherford takes that misconception and throws it out the window with this book. To conclude, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World is a book I would firmly recommend to anyone interested in learning about the Mongol Empire and Genghis Khan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago