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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 67 (next | show all)
I'm not big on nonfiction but I thoroughly enjoyed the first several chapters of this book. There was plenty of rather fascinatingly twisted anthropological information in "Genghis Kahn" to kept me interested... even though my eyes usually tend to start closing when I read history books. In college I studied the effects of the Mongol-Tatar Yoke on Russia, but this book broadened my view, albeit sometimes in vocabulary that seemed a little too 20th-century for the topic. Still, even though the history of warfare has never been my "thing," I will likely take the book out of the library again when I'm ready for more. ( )
  LizoksBooks | Dec 15, 2018 |
Curious.
For an historical book, I was surprised of the acceptance at face value an apologetic single source for Gengis Khan's early years
The massacres are mentioned in passing with little comment, and the Mongol empire is presented as the single source of progress in the 1200s.
Need a counter view ( )
  Edmee2M | Nov 18, 2018 |
If you are like me, you probably thought of Genghis Khan as a barbaric bloodthirsty conqueror of nations. While he was that, Weatherford shows that he was so much more. A military genius, but also a benevolent ruler who replaced blood-line based leadership with that of based on merit and loyalty, who valued knowledge and brought together many cultures, outlawed torture, protected women and poor people, enacted religious freedom, supported trade and generally brought prosperity and unparalleled freedom, education and self-governance into those regions they conquered (after the initial shock of conquest).

I give five stars for Part I of the book, which deals with Genghis Khan's early life and his gradually establishing his empire. This is the only part where Weatherford attempts bringing personalities to life. I especially enjoyed the story of Heulun, Genghis' mother, and his love for his wife, Borte. We also get a fascinating detailed account of Mongol military might. Mongols basically were on horseback since they could walk, could stand up on horseback, and were excellent archers. They would let the enemy attack them, feign a retreat, and when the enemy pursued them, they waited until the enemy horses tired - then turned back and killed all with their deadly arrows. Infantry, knights in heavy armor were useless against them. After a couple initial local defeats, Genghis Khan was never defeated in battle.

The Mongols did not invent anything, but were always on the lookout for new technologies from nations they conquered (or later on, traded with). They created cannons by combining gunpowder from China, flamethrowers from Persia and ironworking from Europe. This gave them an incredible advantage in sieges of walled cities. They killed the aristocracies of conquered regions, which prevented revolt, but valued craftsmen, workers and all learned people. While they mercilessly killed all those they did not value, they never tortured or maimed. They had a religious reverence of the body, especially the face, and banned all disfigurement. They recoiled from the European religious tradition of parading bones of saints around - they thought it barbaric and sacriligious.

The second part of the book is four stars and deals with the reign of Genghis's children and grandchildren. Under Khubilai Khan the Mongol empire reached its largest size and greatest wealth. Khubilai was not a warrior but an astute statesman. He defeated the Chinese Sung dynasty by basically improving the freedom, living and cultural conditions of Chinese people under him that they gradually defected from the Sung dynasty, leaving only a small part easily defeated by Kubilai's talented generals. He invented paper money, printing, and supported trade in all forms. He established trading posts, roads with waystations that provided fresh animals and supplies, passports for merchants, and diplomatic immunity for envoys, even for enemy envoys. Yet, he was no longer a warrior, thus starting the erosion of the work ethic and principles of his grandfather's empire.

The third part of the book details of the impact of the Mongol empire and its decline and fall. I felt this part was dry, biased and an inflated catalog of everything the Mongols brought to all over the world. I do agree that there was much dissemination of knowledge and culture by the Mongols, but to attribute the entire Reneissance to the Mongols is a bit of a stretch. Also, they did not bring pants to Europe - Europeans have worn pants since the classic era! In general, I felt like Weatherford was working too hard to attribute any achievement of Europe after the 13th century to the Mongols. The writing was also dry, repetitive and lost in details at the end.

Overall, this is a great book that shines a very different light on much I knew about medieval history and Genghis Khan. It also contains much new research, since researching him was prohibited in the Soviet era. I highly recommend this book to all history buffs. ( )
  Gezemice | Oct 29, 2018 |
I can't believe how little I knew about Genghis Khan and the influence he and the empire he founded had upon the modern world. Even more distressing is how my vague impression that the Mongols of the period contributed nothing more to the world than a wake of misery and destruction was the product of deliberate propaganda.

Only the first half of the book deals with the (fascinating) life of Genghis Khan himself. The second half deals mostly with the decades after his death and how his descendants ruled the empire but also touches on all history since the 13th century. There's also a (somewhat too long) afterword that explains the work that was requried to uncover the details of this history that had been hidden or suppressed for so long.

Very enlightening, I'm very glad I read this. ( )
  dan4mayor | Jun 28, 2018 |
A fascinating history from the Mongol point of view. I learned a lot I didn’t know and realized what a one-sided history we hear about the Mongols. The Audible version is irritating though especially in the second half. It sounds spliced quite a bit where there often is no breath or pause between sections and sometimes sentences and the narrator sounds like he just about talks on top of himself. It’s jarring every time it happens, which is a lot. ( )
  KarenMonsen | Apr 29, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 67 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jack Weatherfordprimary authorall editionscalculated
David Lindroth Inc.Mapssecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davis, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Henderson, LeonardDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lång, ÖjevindTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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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
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)

» see all 4 descriptions

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