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Ruthless: Genghis Khan, 13th Century…

Ruthless: Genghis Khan, 13th Century Mongolian Tyrant

by Enid A. Goldberg

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After reading the last Wicked History book about Rasputin I did decide that this series might be interesting enough to continue on with so I've now moved on to the biography of Genghis Khan, 13th-Century Mongolian Tyrant.

Parts were quite interesting, like how there are no true depictions of what Temujin (who would become Genghis Khan) actually looked like as he refused to have any paintings done of him. Also, that until the 1800s there had actually been no known true written accounts about Temujin when a book called The Secret History of the Mongols was found in China, although word of mouth had carried the story of Genghis Khan quite adequately down through the years.

As opposed to the Rasputin this little biography didn't seem to dwell quite so much on tabloidish images, perhaps because it is more ancient history. I did find the text interesting even though it was not as colorfully represented. Once again the contradictions were brought to the foreground. On one hand Genghis Khan was by all accounts a most ruthless unforgiving person who managed to overcome and rule not only the Mongol tribes, but also Muslim and Chinese cities as well, killing thousands and maybe even more in the process. He destroyed cities, farms and homes and used the defeated peoples as human shields. On the other hand, he was also documented as being open-minded about religion and urged both his followers and the conquered peoples he absorbed into his nation to follow their own beliefs. He ended centuries of warring between the Mongol clans to bring the people under one central rule with laws to be followed, taught his people to read and write and allowed peasants and soldiers alike to rise in his society based on their hard work and loyalty. In the end it is left up to the reader to make their own opinion of what this person may actually have been like.

I found all the information to be touched upon in an impartial and factually represented way. There is one thing that bugged me and that was the name dropping. Despite the small genealogy and tribe guide at the front, there are names dropped that have no reference. For example near the end of the book in the discussion of the battle with the Jurched someone by the name of Jebe is discussed, but I didn't see anything indicating who exactly Jebe was.

Overall the history was interesting and sometimes it is nice to know a little bit about these people, not that it often comes up in conversation but, you never know. ( )
  Jenson_AKA_DL | Sep 30, 2008 |
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Traces the life of the chief of the small Mongol tribe who established a vast empire from Peking to the Black Sea in the thirteenth century.

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