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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 49 (next | show all)
A very accessible read full of fascinating connections over vast spaces and 100s of years.
  Katemartin | Jun 16, 2015 |
"Genghis" is an enjoyable account of both Genghis Khan the man, and the reverberations of his existence throughout history.
I borrowed it after attending a Bay Area Nadaam festival piqued my interest in Mongolian history. Despite sometimes taking an overly sympathetic view of his subject (oh Jack Weatherford, you really wanted that Honorary Doctorate from Chinggis Khaan College in Mongolia), I appreciated having my assumptions about Khan, and Mongolia's role in history, overturned. If Weatherford is to be believed, the Mongol Empire was characterized by meritocracy, unprecedented religious pluralism and a genius for technological adaptation. Go figure!

This is a quick and easy read that will perhaps spur me on to pick of some of the texts recording the inter-cultural contacts of the era (Ibn Battuta, Marco Polo, etc.).

Did I forget the forming of a Chinese state? Yeah, they did that, too. ( )
  oh_that_zoe | May 21, 2015 |
Much of the story Weatherford unfolds here was news to me. Here in the West, which only briefly felt the wild wrath of the Mongol army at its height, it is hard to understand the extent of Asian awe and fear of what this one man accomplished in a lifetime. If nothing else will convince you--for eight hundred years a huge piece of land in Mongolia, the heart of Genghis Khan's home territory, has been closed to any incursion. First by the Mongol tribes themselves and then by the communists, to ensure that no one went in, so that no scholarship could give rise to any writings that might enflame the Mongolian tribal soul to rebellion. The legend of Genghis is that powerful. It was only after the fall of communism and the withdrawal of the Russians (who left a shameful mess of weapons and garbage and pollution around the perimeter of this sacred area, but curiously and significantly never despoiled it) scholarship and exploration almost immediately picked up in the 1990's. A document commissioned by the royal family not long after Genghis death, known as The Secret History, had surfaced now and again over the centuries but was written in such a way that it was tremendously difficult to decipher without intimate knowledge of Genghis' homeland. Weatherford and several other scholars of different kinds, from linguists to archaeologists, explored the area in depth and together were able to 'read' the secrets of the Secret History. And what a story! As unbelievable as it sounds, all Genghis may have ever wanted was peace. At the time of his youth the tribes all fought incessantly. Banished for refusing to submit to another tribal leader in the rigid hereditary hierarchy, he went out on his own. And gradually began to build a new kind of tribe, one depending on merit and earned trust. He acquired followers and they began to conquer more territory so as to feed their horses and families . . . but the further out from his homeland he conquered, the more it became apparent, that he needed to keep going until he had unified everyone into one gigantic entity in order to have real peace. The only reason, really, he stopped where he did in Hungary and the Balkans, is that Europe was too poor and did not have the big grassy plains for his soldier's horses. And the 'after story' - in particular the way nations twisted and abused the story of Genghis Khan to suit their own end made my hair stand on end. Weatherford explains the origins of the vocabulary of Downs Syndrome and the use of the word 'mongoloid'. During the shameful interlude of very bad genetic science in the late 19 and early 20th centuries Downs (!!!!) came up with the completely bizarre idea that these children were throwbacks to the Mongols, from women raped during the invasions 700 centuries earlier!!!!! I mean, REALLY!! It boggles the mind. And people believed this less than a hundred years ago! After their downfall, the Mongols were painted as sub-human, wild and hopelessly violent. But the reality is the opposite. The Mongols with their military inventiveness put an end to the use of heavy armor and feudal walled cities, achieved miracles of fast communication, trade, education, currency.... built bridges and roads everywhere.... the list goes on and on. A great introduction to a fascinating subject. ****

The narration was slightly better than adequate but not fantastic -- and at the end there is an interesting afterword read by Weatherford himself, which leads me to wish he would write another book about his years of traveling around the area with the other scholars and guides. Okay, so just read the book, review over. ( )
7 vote sibyx | Jan 30, 2015 |
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 |
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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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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.)
Disambiguation notice
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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 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)

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