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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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I had thought that Genghis Khan was another one of those mad conquerors that we had read about in history, like Tamerlane, Attila the Hun or Hitler.

However, his story is more interesting than that. He definitely was a brute. For instance, to help win a battle he would round up villagers who were "trapped" outside the central city walls and force them into the surrounding moat and then trample them with heavy war machines and his own troops on horseback.

He created an empire four times the size of the Roman Empire. He obliterated the great empire of the Muslims headquartered in Iraq and looted the city and sent all the best materials and scholars and workmen back to Mongolia and China.

The *only* reason he did not conquer all of Europe was that the forests prevented him from using his cavalry the way he wanted to.

The *big bonus* in this book and the main reason I give it five stars is the story of the grandson, Kublai Khan. This amazing man was one of the greatest leaders ever in history, in fact.

The bonus knowledge here were his ideas of improving his country's fortunes by developing trade and to create inventions to trade to others, or to produce something more to trade with those inventions, anything that would work. The author summarized these points better than I have and are the example to any President or leader of a country who wants to grow his country. These few pages should be required reading for every leader because they are incontrovertible. ( )
  Benedict8 | Jul 16, 2014 |
Fascinating history of my favorite era - the Mongol invasions of Asia and Europe. I docked one star because Weatherford was a little too effusive toward the Mongols and their place in history. ( )
  kwjr | May 18, 2014 |
Weatherford has written a scintillating history, here. The book blew away my preconceptions of the Mongol Empire and replaced them with a much more nuanced understanding of how these people warred and ruled Fascinating, well-researched, and with a passion for the topic that shines through, this is one of the best popular histories that I've read.

Genghis Khan and the Golden Horde have a popular series of associations: mericiless barbarians, sweeping down from the steppe and leaving ruin and desolation in their wake. The reality, though, was quite quite different, and Weatherford does a stirling job of bringing it to light.

Starting with the genesis of the Mongols most famous ruler, Temujin - the Great Khan himself - Weatherford traces his development giving a background to both the man, and the cultures that propelled the Mongols halfway round the world.

This structure - interspersing the personal, political histories with the broader military and cultural development - is maintained throughout the entire book, and it really worked for me.

Weatherford brings a surprisingly deft narrative hand to his story, and it's difficult not to root for the various Mongols. But he doesn't shy away from scholarship, either, and more in-depth explanations of how war was waged, life was lived, and death was dealt.

The result is that both aspects of the book are equally engaging, and I never tired of either. The use of primary or secondary sources (where they are available) also helped lend a voice to both the Mongols and their opponents and vassals. Weatherford really is a good writer, and the audiobook version is narrated extremely well.

I learnt a lot from this book, and much of it was surprising and fascinating. Weatherford's passion is obvious and enthralling. A great read. ( )
1 vote patrickgarson | Apr 21, 2014 |
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World describes Khan humble beginnings back when he was known as Temujin, a member of the steppe tribe to the leader of the most powerful and influential empires of all time. It was amazing to read that many of the aspects that are in daily life today were created be Khan.

He was an incredibly intelligent leader. For every conquered land, he gave its people a chance to join him as equals into his "family." Only the ones that fought back were killed and never in a brutal way. Khan did not believe in unnecessary torture of any kind. He also spread a terror campaign because fear and paranoia were powerful tools in his arsenal. These stories were how Khan got his brutal reputation.

He also created bridges to facilltate trade and the connect to the various people to promote solidarity and cohesion. It is also something that those bridges also helped the bubonic plague spread and decimate the Mongol Empire. Khan also created PAPER MONEY because the bouillons they carried were too cumbersome. Women also had a semi-equal part in the empire handling the administrative duties.

Jack Weatherford knows how to write. With history tomes, I often worry it'll be boring, dry, and drab but this book was really interesting! I have read Amy Chua's book in which she dscusses the Mongol Empire and Democracy so I already knew Genghis Khan was not the senseless and violent savage he has always been portrayed as. I just didn't know how much he shaped our world. My only worry is that Weatherford may have been too Pro Mongol and that may have blinded him to the fact Khan still committed acts of violence and spread terror everywhere he went. ( )
1 vote Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World describes Khan humble beginnings back when he was known as Temujin, a member of the steppe tribe to the leader of the most powerful and influential empires of all time. It was amazing to read that many of the aspects that are in daily life today were created be Khan.

He was an incredibly intelligent leader. For every conquered land, he gave its people a chance to join him as equals into his "family." Only the ones that fought back were killed and never in a brutal way. Khan did not believe in unnecessary torture of any kind. He also spread a terror campaign because fear and paranoia were powerful tools in his arsenal. These stories were how Khan got his brutal reputation.

He also created bridges to facilltate trade and the connect to the various people to promote solidarity and cohesion. It is also something that those bridges also helped the bubonic plague spread and decimate the Mongol Empire. Khan also created PAPER MONEY because the bouillons they carried were too cumbersome. Women also had a semi-equal part in the empire handling the administrative duties.

Jack Weatherford knows how to write. With history tomes, I often worry it'll be boring, dry, and drab but this book was really interesting! I have read Amy Chua's book in which she dscusses the Mongol Empire and Democracy so I already knew Genghis Khan was not the senseless and violent savage he has always been portrayed as. I just didn't know how much he shaped our world. My only worry is that Weatherford may have been too Pro Mongol and that may have blinded him to the fact Khan still committed acts of violence and spread terror everywhere he went. ( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jack Weatherfordprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davis, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lång, ÖjevindTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
First words
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
Haiku summary

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:33 -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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