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Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern…
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Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World (2004)

by Jack Weatherford

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
This book wasn't quite what I expected - I figured it would be about Genghis Khan's life, but it was actually just as much about how his legacy formed the modern world. Which, I must say, was a delightful surprise.

The first half of the book chronicled Genghis Khan's life, starting with a very interesting childhood. I loved how much detail was included about Genghis Khan's strong-willed mother. She was kidnapped from her first husband soon after their marriage, and was awarded to her captor, Genghis Khan's father. But she didn't just submit. She helped her first husband escape by letting herself be captured. Then, when Genghis Kahn's father suddenly died, the whole family was left to die by the rest of their group. But Genghis Kahn's mother had different plans. She kept the family alive against all odds. She was even willing to marry her step-son (only one year older than her own son) to make the family cohesive. But this is when Genghis Kahn's conquering spirit fired up - he didn't want his mother marrying his brother, because then his brother's place as head-of-household would be solidified. Instead, he encouraged his younger brother to shoot the elder. Interestingly, when he formed universal laws for his empire later in his life, such intra-family killings were outlawed.

After the incident with his brother, the narrative began to follow Genghis Khan rather than his parents. What I found interesting about this part of the book was that he was not portrayed as a conquering tyrant as he generally is in modern media. He was portrayed as cunning and wise. His laws were fair, reasonable, and well-thought-out. There was only very a little talk of battle strategy and history in this book. I had wished to have more of such information, but I can always read a different biography of Genghis Kahn. The purpose of Weatherford's book was not to chronicle a history of Genghis Khan's wars but to give a previously unseen glimpse into Genghis' private life, personality, and how his legacy changed the world.

One thing that I found particularly wise about Genghis Kahn was his realization that nepotism does not necessarily lead to the most devoted followers. Promoting one's family first was common among his people, so Genghis Kahn was breaking cultural norms when he promoted by loyalty first. And it was amazing what kind of loyalty he inspired. He must have been a very charismatic man.

The final part of the book was about Genghis Kahn's legacy. How his universal laws shaped the area even after they were neglected by his descendants. How his descendants spread around the world and made their own little kingdoms. How the trade routes he created became the major East-to-West connection for centuries - a connection that Columbus was trying to rebuild when he attempted to sail around the world to India.

Truly a fascinating read. ( )
  The_Hibernator | Feb 12, 2016 |
Captivating history book. Jack Weatherford writes Mongol history and relates to events up to present day. Immense influence of Mongol Empire globalized majority of world. Tactics of war and peace, warrior mentality, collision of cultures, religions, drastically different ways of living.

“Temujin followed the sporadic attacks of the Moving Bush with the Lake Formation, in which a long line of troops advanced, fired its arrows, and then was replaced by the next line… Once the Naiman spread out, Temujin switched to his third tactic. He regrouped his squads one behind the other in the Chisel Formation.” (Pages 61–62)

Genghis Khan conquered and united. He was diplomatic, giving others a chance to pay tribute before taking over. He was brutal when conquered people fled or disobeyed new authority.

“In addition to sex, property, and food, Genghis Khan recognized the disruptive potential of competing religions. In one form or another, virtually every religion from Buddhism to Christianity and Manichaeanism to Islam had found converts among the steppe people, and almost all of them claimed not only to be the true religion but the only one… Genghis Khan decreed complete and total religious freedom for everyone.” (Page 69)

Christians of Europe first thought Mongols were invading Europe to reclaim bones of the Three Kings. When Mongols traveled away from location of bones, Christians believed they were exiled Jews, descendants of those who followed strange Gods when Moses was around. The scared, fearful Christians could not defeat the Mongols, but they killed Jews across Europe. “Church ordered that Jews had to wear less distinctive clothes and emblems to mark them for all to see.” (Page 157) (Pages 157-158)

“Unlike many civilizations – and most particularly western Europe, where monarchs ruled by the will of God and reigned above the law – Genghis Khan made it clear that his Great Law applied as strictly to the rulers as to everyone else.” (Page 70)

Description of religious debate:

“No side seemed to convince the other of anything. Finally, as the effects of the alcohol became stronger, the Christians gave up trying to persuade anyone with logical arguments, and resorted to singing. The Muslims, who did not sing, responded by loudly reciting the Koran in an effort to drown out the Christians, and the Buddhists retreated into silent meditation. At the end of the debate, unable to convert or kill one another, they concluded the way most Mongol celebrations concluded, with everyone simply too drunk to continue.” (Page 173)

Mongol caravans included people from diverse cultures and all walks of life. They applied controlling herds of animals, to controlling millions of people. ( )
  Michael.Bradham | Feb 11, 2016 |
I think this would have been more appropriately titled as the history of the Mongols as it encompassed far more than Genghis Khan. It seemed very tedious most of the way through though it did have some portions that were fairly interesting. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
I think this would have been more appropriately titled as the history of the Mongols as it encompassed far more than Genghis Khan. It seemed very tedious most of the way through though it did have some portions that were fairly interesting. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
To be clear and fair, I love history books, so I'm likely to rate a history book high when it's well written, and this one is.

I read the Iggulden novels about Genghis, and they were fun as novels, but this book gives the reader a really nice look into the world and culture of Genghis and his people. In particular, I was shocked to learn just how much of modern civilization was pioneered by the Mongols.

Really excellent view into a piece of history that's clearly been misrepresented to most of us in the modern world. ( )
  bicyclewriter | Jan 8, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jack Weatherfordprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
David Lindroth Inc.Mapssecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davis, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Henderson, LeonardDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lång, ÖjevindTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Of the thousands of cities conquered by the Mongols, history only mentions one that Geghis Khan deigned to enter.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Contents
The Mongol Dynasties
Introduction: The Missing Conqueror
Part I: The Reign of Terror on the Steppe: 1162-1206
Chapter 1: The Blood Cot
Chapter 2: Tale of Three Rivers
Chapter 3: War of the Khans
Part II: The Mongol World War: 1211 -1261
Chapter 4: Spitting on the Golden Khan
Chapter 5: Sultan versus Khan
Chapter 6: The Discovery and Conquest of Europe
Chapter 7: Warring Queens
Part III: The Global Awakening: 1262-1962
Chapter 8: Khubilai Khan and the New Mongol Empire
Chapter 9: The Global Awakening
Chapter 10: The Empire of Illusion
Epilogue: The Eternal Spirit of Genghis Khan
Notes
Glossary
Acknowledgements
About the Author
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0609809644, Paperback)

The Mongol army led by Genghis Khan subjugated more lands and people in twenty-?ve 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:56 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A thought provoking re-evaluation of Genghis Khan's rise to power sheds light on the revolutionary reforms the conqueror instituted throughout his empire, including religious freedom, diplomatic immunity, and the creation of the Silk Road free trade zone as well as on his uniting of the East and West, which set the foundation for the nation states and global economic systems of the modern era. Reprint. The Mongol army led by Genghis Khan subjugated more lands and people in twenty 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.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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