A brute. Otherwise, a place consigned to geographical oblivion in the minds of most. That was then. Now, thanks in large part to the restored reputation of Genghis and the many successor Khans — a restoration achieved in no small part thanks to the literary diligence of Jack Weatherford — Mongolia has come roaring back, being currently a highly modish place to visit tourism has tripled in the last decade , a place to revere, be amazed by and in awe of.
As a minuscule country that for a few shining centuries — rather like Britain, six hundred years later — expanded and held sway around a goodly part of the globe, from Vietnam, Burma and China to Hungary, Thrace and Poland.
Weatherford an anthropologist whose fathomless wellsprings of curiosity once led him to clerk in a Capitol Hill porn store to write a book that remains discreetly unlisted on the Also By page here would like us to believe that those centuries of Mongol rule did indeed shine, and were, as far as imperial adventures go, among the best of their kind. In a sense we are all Mongols; we are all one. Book Review Empire of Tolerance. Instead, approach it as a really good, if broad, examination of how the Mongolian Empire came to be, was sustained, and ultimately shattered.
In that light it is a good gateway book to deeper dives into the fascinating and unique Mongolian Empire. View all 5 comments. This might be my favorite book of all time.
It's as fascinating as a history book or biography can get while also being a terrific read. From the first page, you are immersed in understanding how an illiterate steppe warrior became ruler of an empire larger than Africa. Perhaps most enticing to me are the ways in which the survival strategies of steppe nomads influenced the ethics of rulership and the cunning development of military tactics.
I recommend this book to anyone with a sense of curios This might be my favorite book of all time. I recommend this book to anyone with a sense of curiosity, whether you typically enjoy reading history or not. I wanted to like this book but, the more I read, the more I was bothered by what seem to me to be unsubstantiated and "over the top" claims by the author. Since I know little about Asian history, I can only assume that the first part of the book is "Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World" by Jack Weatherford is both an account of the life and empire of Genghis Khan and, unfortunately, a series of unsubstantiated claims about the empire's positive contributions to the world.
Since I know little about Asian history, I can only assume that the first part of the book is a fairly conventional account of the life and conquests of Genghis Kahn. However, from about the end of the first part of the book to its conclusion, I can say that Weatherford fails to provide evidence for several major claims he makes about world history. Weatherford never mentions that the Empire of Genghis Khan and his sons and grandsons killed 30 to 40 million people. Weatherford also downplays the fact that the Mongols brought slaughter, destruction, and misery to cities and villages from the Pacific Ocean to Eastern Europe and the Middle East for about one hundred years.
When Weatherford does mention some Mongol atrocity, he usually precedes or follows its description with a description of a worse atrocity committed by some European. And when he does mention a Mongol atrocity, many times he tries to give some rationalization for it. For example, Weatherford blames one of Genghis Kahn's daughter-in-laws for the decision to kill every man, woman, and child in a certain city - and to amass their severed heads into three corresponding piles.
According to Weatherford, the Mongols are "victims" of a smear campaign started by the Enlightenment Europeans.
He doesn't seem to consider that the Europeans may have remembered their ancestors being burned alive in churches by the Mongol invaders. According to Weatherford, the Europeans should be grateful: "Although never ruled by the Mongols, in many ways, Europe gained the most from their world system. I think it could be argued that the world would have been better off without the Mongol Empire and the 30 to 40 million deaths and destruction - and with a Europe that discovered Chinese technology a couple of centuries later.
Weatherford seems to have bought into Genghis Khan's propaganda that he wanted to unite the whole world in one empire under the Eternal Blue Sky.
I'll finish this review with a quote from the book that I think fairly summarizes Weatherford's thesis: "In conquering their empire, not only had the Mongols revolutionized warfare, they also created the nucleus of the universal culture and world system. This new global culture continued to grow long after the demise of the Mongol Empire, and through continued development over the coming centuries, it became the foundation for the modern world system with the original Mongol emphasis on free commerce, open communication, shared knowledge, secular politics, religious coexistence, international law, and diplomatic immunity.
I'm giving it two out of five stars rather than one star because I assume it provides the conventional account of Genghis Kahn and the Mongol Empire.
View all 10 comments. The author's cheerleading aside, Khan's numbers and creativity will thrill and bewilder you. Mere light-weights who statistically pale next to this titan Massive Mongol Moments : "In 25 years, the Mongol army subjugated more lands and people than the Romans had conquered in years. Any person who found such goods, money, or animals and did not turn them in… would be treated as a thief; the penalty for theft was execution. They had a single goal in every campaign : total victory. To stop trade through an area, he demolished cities down to their very foundations.
Where the natural grassland seemed inadequate, the Mongols opened up farmland… by sending in… soldiers to burn villages and farm settlements… Without farmers to plow and plant the land, it reverted to grassland before the main Mongol army arrived. They had conquered the heart of the Arab world. No other non-Muslim troops would conquer Baghdad or Iraq again… until Khubilai Khan rarely allowed the use of execution for those offenses that remained… At the same time that the Mongols were moving to limit the use of torture, both church and state in Europe passed laws to expand its usage to an even greater variety of crimes for which there need be no evidence.
Unlike the variety of bloody forms of torture such as stretching on a rack… crushed by a great wheel… impaled on spikes… various forms of burning… Mongols limited it to beating with a cane.
The Mongols staffed each office with an ethnic quota… so that each official was surrounded by men of a different culture or religion. Khubilai owned farms in Persia and Iraq… Clerics traveled throughout the empire checking on the goods in one place and verifying accounts in another.
The Mongols in Persia supplied their kinsman in China with spices, steel, jewels, pearls, and textiles, while the Mongol court in China sent porcelains and medicines to Persia. Presses throughout the Mongol empire were soon printing agricultural pamphlets, almanacs, scriptures, laws, histories, medical treatises, new mathematical theories, songs, and poetry in many different languages.
View 2 comments. Dec 24, Jamie rated it really liked it Shelves: history. The rise of Genghis Khan, the spread of his immense empire, the surprisingly farsighted policies he implemented, the intrigues of his successors, and the way Europe and Asia were changed in their wake make for an interesting book with lots of colorful characters and dramatic events. He seems in many way to be almost an admirable character. That is, if you can overlook the dead bodies, the millions of people slaughtered from China to Hungary, from Russia to Iraq, entire cities laid waste and their populations put to the sword.
And not just once or twice, but everywhere the Mongols went, because they viewed terror as a cheap alternative to combat. Kill everyone who attempts to oppose you and eventually you can scare the rest into surrendering, but you have to kill a lot of people for everyone else to decide that surrender and slavery is a better option than putting up a fight.
Mongolia was not a large place, and it was thinly populated since it takes a lot of territory to support a pastoralist lifestyle. As a result, after the first conquests actual Mongolians were a minority in the armies, which contained large numbers of affiliated troops, some from conquered peoples, some from allied nations, and some specialists, such as doctors, engineers, and siege warfare experts, from China and the West. Their success depended on equal parts mobility, ferocity, superior equipment, and strategy. As a nation on horseback, they could move far faster than infantry-based armies, and their soldiers were trained from childhood to ride, shoot, and fight.
They used the fearsome compound bow, which was lethal at longer ranges than the weapons of their opponents, and they could shoot behind themselves as accurately as they could shoot ahead. It helped that the armies they fought were poorly trained and equipped and badly led. For instance, in Russia the local nobles were so jealous of each other that they refused to name an overall commander; they attacked piecemeal and were destroyed piecemeal.
In Hungary the nobles held back their troops even as the Mongols were at their doorstep to try to get additional concessions from the king. The Holy Roman emperor was at war with the pope, and was willing to let western civilization burn rather than accept a compromise. When the Mongols attacked Baghdad the caliph was so certain that the armies of Islam would come to his aid that he did not order the walls be repaired until literally the day before the city was attacked.
In both their invasions of Europe and the Middle East, the only thing that stopped the Mongols was news of the death of the great khan, and the need for their leaders to return home to elect a new one. Had that not happened nothing would have stopped them from conquering all of Europe and the Middle East. The empire they created, for those who were able to avoid death or slavery, was remarkable for its time.
At a time when you could still get burned at the stake in Europe for minor theological disagreements, the Mongols tolerated all religions, so long as they obeyed the law. There was far more equality than anywhere else in the world, and they promoted polices that enhanced agriculture, trade, and education. The Mongol empire remains one of the greatest episodes of human history, and helped open up the world for trade and the exchange of ideas.
Whether the price paid in blood for its success was worth it is up to the historians to debate, but this book is a fine introduction for anyone interested in this subject. Born in , Genghis Khan grew up an uneducated outcast on the Asian steppes. He learned through harsh experience to be an astute judge of people, to be self-reliant and to be completely ruthless.
He set his own traditions. He valued loyalty first followed by competence. Lineage and social standing did not matter. He was a great organizer and quick study, taking the best ideas from each society he con Weatherford relates the remarkable story of Genghis Khan as told in The Secret History of the Mongols. He was a great organizer and quick study, taking the best ideas from each society he conquered and weaving them into an unstoppable strategy for conquest. He conscripted anyone of value into his army or his capable administrative organization.
Mar 16, Genghis Khan and the Mongols are generally portrayed as ruthless In this revisionist history, Jack Weatherford chooses to portray the. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World () is a history book written by Jack Weatherford, . In a review, Timothy May wrote that some of Weatherford's thesis was "without question, controversial". Nevertheless, Weatherford.
Those left behind had to pay homage or be killed. While he consulted with his compatriots, he did not tolerate dissension from anyone. He disdained torture, but killed without compunction. Genghis Khan forever changed the world. Prior to his reign, Europe, China and India were all isolated from each other. The Muslim Arab, Turkic, and Persian realm was the most advanced in literacy, education and in trade.
What limited commerce existed between West and East went through the Middle East and made its way from tribe to tribe along the Silk Road south of the Mongol homeland. Genghis Khan would bring the world, its goods, ideas and technologies, together. After a tough childhood, he was able to take over the leadership of his own tribe.
I never really thought history can be so much interesting. Everything from breaking the back of a man who had humiliated a friend--even after that man surrendered and apologized--to wiping out entire cities if they refused to surrender, the historical record seems to indicate that although Genghis Khan wasn't particularly bloodthirsty he was also completely and totally consienceless when it came to killing. If he is lucky, there will be a brief snippet of a passage with the source. Khan was a brilliant tactician, and the book details various innovations both technological and psychological. They had a single goal in every campaign — total victory I will certainly concede that the Mongolian Empire was unique for its time.
Then he started aligning with or defeating nearby tribes. This included the Tatar tribe, thus causing some Europeans later to refer to the Mongols as Tartars. In he adopted the name Genghis Khan, ruling a group of tribes that would be known as the Mongols.