On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads

Overview

Grand Prize Winner, Banff Mountain Festival Book Competition

The relationship between man and horse on the Eurasian steppe gave rise to a succession of rich nomadic cultures. Among them were the Mongols of the thirteenth century—a small tribe, which, under the charismatic leadership of Genghis Khan, created the largest contiguous land empire in history. Inspired by the extraordinary life nomads lead, Tim Cope embarked on a journey that hadn't been successfully completed since ...

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On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads

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Overview

Grand Prize Winner, Banff Mountain Festival Book Competition

The relationship between man and horse on the Eurasian steppe gave rise to a succession of rich nomadic cultures. Among them were the Mongols of the thirteenth century—a small tribe, which, under the charismatic leadership of Genghis Khan, created the largest contiguous land empire in history. Inspired by the extraordinary life nomads lead, Tim Cope embarked on a journey that hadn't been successfully completed since those times: to travel on horseback across the entire length of the Eurasian steppe, from Karakorum, the ancient capital of Mongolia, through Kazakhstan, Russia, Crimea and the Ukraine to the Danube River in Hungary.

From horse-riding novice to spending months in the saddle, he learnt to fend off wolves and would-be horse-thieves, and grapple with the haunting extremes of the steppe as he crossed sub-zero plateaux, the scorching deserts of Kazakhstan and the high-mountain passes of the Carpathians. As he travelled he formed a close bond with his horses and especially his dog Tigon, and encountered essential hospitality—the linchpin of human survival on the steppe—from those he met along the way.

Cope bears witness to how the traditional ways hang in the balance in the post-Soviet world—an era that has brought new-found freedom, but also the perils of corruption and alcoholism, and left a world bereft of both the Communist system upon which it once relied, and the traditional knowledge of the nomadic forefathers.

A journey of adventure, endurance and eventual triumph, On the Trail of Genghis Khan is at once a celebration of and an elegy for an ancient way of life.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Call him crazy but determined: the story of Australian adventurer Cope (Off the Rails: Moscow to Beijing on Recumbent Bikes, 2004), who jettisoned his bike for a horse to gallop across Mongolia. The author's 2004 horseback trip from Mongolia to Hungary, 6,000 miles, was supposed to take 18 months but dragged on for three years. Cope aimed to recapture some of the magical freedom he imagined still existed for the nomads of the Mongolian steppes, descendants of Genghis Khan and his marauding empire. The author was also determined to dispel the stereotypes prevalent among Russians and others that Mongolians were barbaric and uncivilized and their existence more backward than the peoples of the neighboring societies. In a sensitive account both personal and historical, Cope delineates the nuts and bolts of such a daunting equine adventure: procuring the necessary horses (several sets of them, as Mongolian horses could not be removed from the country), and learning to ride and care for them properly, along with a great deal of research about the Mongolian empire and the life of the herding nomads (e.g., the return of the Tatars to the Crimea since their removal during World War II). The author even learned some Mongolian and Russian. Cope invited his share of hardships, which came from camping out in the wilderness, at full mercy of the elements, horse thieves and wolves, among other daily perils. Though he (and for the first two months, his girlfriend) relied on the generosity of the nomads and their extraordinary sense of hospitality, navigating the borders set him back mightily. The author infuses his ambitious account with the stories of the people and tales of the animals who inspired the journey, rendering the book heartfelt and memorable. An exciting, detailed account of man versus adversity.
From the Publisher
"There are plenty of fine books written by people who go off on adventures and return to set their story to paper, but Tim Cope's adventure, recalled in On the Trail of Genghis Khan, puts almost all of them to shame. The anecdotes he relates are amazing, but it's Cope himself that provides the most inspiration. It's a shame that the word 'epic' has been so degraded by over-use, because it must be employed here." The Daily Beast

"[A] sensitive account both personal and historical . . . [Cope] refuses his ambitious account with the stories of the people and tales of the animals who inspired the journey, rendering the book heartfelt and memorable. An exciting, detailed account of man versus adversity." Kirkus

 

"Tim Cope's exploration across the continents on horseback grew into a quest through history and then on odyssey deep into the human heart. In exploring some of the most remote places on earth, he brings us back to ourselves and to a better understanding of our place in the world today." Jack Weatherfod, author of Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

 

"In some ways the most reassuring thing about On the Trail of Genghis Khan is that, in a world full of people and connections and easy means of gratification, someone with enough courage and curiousity can still find a place to get lost. And, in doing so, can still come to understand life on totally foreign terms. That Cope writes beautifully about the experience makes this book one to treasure and remember." —Nick Reding, author of The Last Cowboys at the End of the World and Methland

 

"An epic tale of an epic journey, told with beauty and sensitivity. For anyone who loves adventure and traveling off the beaten track, this is a must read." —Tim Macartney-Snape, mountaineer, first Australian to summit Mount Everest

 

"Tim Cope's epic journey is a reminder to us all that life should be lived to the fullest. Cope is a man who appreciates the simple things in life but still manages to conquer the seemingly impossible through sheer will power and the unbreakable spirit, on a quest to recreate history. His path is one we'd all love to follow." —Steve Waugh, Australian cricket legend

 

"This is a staggering travel adventure, beautifully recounted, by an amazing man." — Peter FitzSimons, sports journalistm, commentator, and biographer

Library Journal
10/15/2013
Never having ridden a horse did not discourage young Australian adventurer and filmmaker Cope from realizing his dream: being the first person in 700 years to repeat successfully Genghis Khan's remarkable journey. The trip took three years to complete and encompassed parts of Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Crimea, Ukraine, and Hungary. Detailed maps that include notes on Cope's activities give readers a sense of his ongoing challenge. He dealt with horse thieves, wolves, mountains, steppes, deserts, and temperatures ranging from -50 to +50 degrees Celsius. Sadly, Cope abandoned his trip when his father was killed in an automobile accident. The author wanted to learn about Mongolia's history, culture, and relationship with the environment. Not only did he succeed but he produced a documentary to share his knowledge. The epilog serves to update readers on the sometimes moving lives and situations of the people Cope met on the trail, including 160 families who welcomed him. VERDICT Adventure buffs will want to get in the saddle and visit an area that might be less welcoming in the future.—Susan G. Baird, formerly with Oak Lawn P.L., IL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608190720
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 9/24/2013
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 217,288
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Tim Cope is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and an award-winning adventurer, author, filmmaker and motivational speaker with a special interest in Central Asia and states of the former Soviet Union. He has studied as a wilderness guide in the Finnish and Russian Arctic, ridden a bicycle across Russia to China, and rowed a boat 4500km through Siberia to the Arctic Ocean. He lives in Victoria, Australia and travels annually to Mongolia as a trekking guide. www.timcopejourneys.com

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