In Search of Genghis Khan

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Riding alongside hardbitten Mongol herdsmen, Severin retraced part of the overland communication system that once linked the far-flung Mongolian empire. In a marvelous adventure that combines travel writing at its serendipitous best with dollops of history and politics, the noted explorer who has recreated crusaders' treks stares into the immense blue vault of Tengri, the Sky God who gave Genghis Khan a mandate to subjugate the world. Severin ( Tracking Marco Polo ) mingled with camel herders in the Gobi desert, weathered an August blizzard, met an old clairvoyant Tuva shamaness, supped with Kazakhs in their yurt (circular tent) and witnessed an outbreak of plague, which he claims is the same disease as the Black Death of medieval Europe. He probes the Mongols' nostalgia for national hero Genghis Khan and monitors the winds of change in a Stalinist-style country undergoing a perestroika liberalization and renaissance of lamaist religion amid a sudden withdrawal of Soviet aid. An enchanting odyssey. (May)
Library Journal
Few places remain as obscure to Americans as Mongolia, that vast expanse of buffer between the former Soviet Union and China. The author, a prolific British travel writer, went there to accompany Mongolian horsemen on a ride across the country (and eventually planned to go all the way to France) to celebrate the memory of Genghis Khan. The frustrations of the mechanics of the journey quickly become tedious to the reader, but Severin's descriptions of the country today, his visit to the Kazakh minority area, an encounter with a Tuva shamaness, his account of the plague (pestes), which continues to be a problem, all make for a vivid picture of the region. Books in Print lists only five books on Mongolia in the last three years, and this one should have the broadest appeal.--Harold M. Otness, Southern Oregon State Coll. Lib., Ashland
Kirkus Reviews
Reflecting that peculiarly British enthusiasm for travel and adventure in distant and usually inclement climes, veteran writer and traveler Severin (Tracking Marco Polo, 1986, etc.) went to Mongolia "to see how much of the traditional way of life survived." Having written a thesis at Oxford on the first Europeans to venture into Central Asia during the great Mongol Empires of the 13th and 14th centuries, Severin was delighted when asked in the late 1980's to visit Mongolia. Once closed to Westerners, the country was now, with the collapse of Communism, welcoming Occidental visitors. The authorities were particularly interested in Severin participating in a projected, but subsequently deferred, epic ride on Mongolian horses to mark the 800th birthday of Genghis Khan. This ride would replicate journeys that Mongolian couriers regularly made in the Middle Ages from Mongolia to France. On his two visits to Mongolia, Severin visited the remote birthplace of Genghis Khan; traveled with Mongolian nomads on horseback over part of the conqueror's route through the mountainous regions of this large but thinly populated country, where summer is brief and winter brutal; encountered a plague-ridden marmot in a region where bubonic plague is endemic, confirming his belief that the Mongols were responsible for introducing the devastating disease to Europe; and met an ancient shaman whose existence testified to the continuing legacy of Genghis Khan. Ultimately, Severin concluded that, despite nearly 70 years of Communist rule, much of the old ways still remain. Rich in information and insight: a vivid portrait of a little- known people who, once the scourge of Europe, rode—on the remarkablehorses whose descendants they still ride today—in pursuit of empire as far as the outer gates of Vienna. Travel writing at its best. (Photographs—16 pages b&w, 8 pages color—not seen.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781856958899
  • Publisher: Ulverscroft Large Print Books, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 2/1/1995
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged

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