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The Mongol Empire: Genghis Khan, His Heirs…
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The Mongol Empire: Genghis Khan, His Heirs and the Founding of Modern… (original 2014; edition 2016)

by John Man (Author)

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631312,026 (3.71)4
Genghis Khan is one of history's immortals: a leader of genius, driven by an inspiring vision for peaceful world rule. Believing he was divinely protected, Genghis united warring clans to create a nation and then an empire that ran across much of Asia. Under his grandson, Kublai Khan, the vision evolved into a more complex religious ideology, justifying further expansion. Kublai doubled the empire's size until, in the late 13th century, he and the rest of Genghis's 'Golden Family' controlled one fifth of the inhabited world. Charting the evolution of this vision, John Man provides a unique account of the Mongol Empire, from young Genghis to old Kublai, from a rejected teenager to the world's most powerful emperor.… (more)
Member:rich255
Title:The Mongol Empire: Genghis Khan, His Heirs and the Founding of Modern China
Authors:John Man (Author)
Info:Transworld Publishers (2015), 400 pages
Collections:Read
Rating:****
Tags:2020, non-fiction, history

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The Mongol Empire: Genghis Khan, His Heirs and the Founding of Modern China by John Man (2014)

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Author John Man takes us from the youth of Temujin, and how he became Genghis Khan and built an empire that crossed Asia into Europe, to his descendants - not just Ogedai and Kublai, but all the branches of his family, taking us into the internecine feuds and jostling for power while the empire Genghis has founded doubled in size, and then caused it to fracture and split.


He does a wonderful job of following the often tortuous paths of history with clarity, but also setting them in the context and feel of time and place; the attitudes of the lands and nations who faced the Mongols, well-argued reasons for why they fell or resisted. The canvas is vast, and he introduced me to many aspects of this history of which I was entirely unaware: the facts that the Turks were a earlier wave of settlers from the same part of the world, the Mongol conquest of the entirety of Asian Islam, the fact that European Christian crusaders allied with the Mongols on more than one occasion ( from a belief that they represented the mythical Eastern Christian emperor Prester John to simple practicality of fighting the same opponent ), the failed invasions of Vietnam and Japan, the off-hand remark that modern Pakistan was part of the empire. Each of these and more could fill volumes in their own right, and I hope I can find accounts written as well as this.


Not that this book is simply a brief overview, Man goes into detail that is substantial and in depth, but not overwhelming. Early on I had been perhaps a little disparaging of his narrative style, but that was entirely unfair; while quite different from the style of, say, Tom Holland, one of my personal favourites and a consummate writer of narrative histories. While initially it seems that Man is rushing through events and piling up detail, he circles back and suddenly he is building a narrative picture that has drawn the reader right into the heart of the story. His main achievement, though, is the way he connects the events to modern history, not only the China ( including how the Chinese claim Genghis for their own ) but Russia, the 'Stans, the Middle East and even how it moulded medieval Japan.


I do have to say that one problem with the book is the way he deals - or doesn't deal - with rape. This becomes especially apparent in a later section when he revisits the fact that one of Genghis' sons was viewed ( possibly correctly ) as illegitimate as his mother had been held captive by an enemy tribe for several months, as well as the fact of Y-chromosomes originating in Mongolia being widespread throughout Asia and Europe. He states these matters as simply that, without acknowledging the sexual violence implicit in both. I'm sure the author would say something along the lines of "it was a simple fact of how the world was then", but he doesn't say anything in the text and this omission, whether he feels it irrelevant, or is uncomfortable with the subject, leaves for me a troublesome gap that should at least have been recognised. ( )
  Pezski | Jun 21, 2020 |
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Genghis Khan is one of history's immortals: a leader of genius, driven by an inspiring vision for peaceful world rule. Believing he was divinely protected, Genghis united warring clans to create a nation and then an empire that ran across much of Asia. Under his grandson, Kublai Khan, the vision evolved into a more complex religious ideology, justifying further expansion. Kublai doubled the empire's size until, in the late 13th century, he and the rest of Genghis's 'Golden Family' controlled one fifth of the inhabited world. Charting the evolution of this vision, John Man provides a unique account of the Mongol Empire, from young Genghis to old Kublai, from a rejected teenager to the world's most powerful emperor.

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