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Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World Paperback – Mar 22 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; New edition edition (March 22 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609809644
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609809648
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.8 x 20.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Apart from its inapt title, Genghis Khan dies rather early on in this account and many of the battles are led by his numerous offspring. This book is a successful account of the century of turmoil brought to the world by a then little-known nation of itinerant hunters. In researching this book, Weatherford (Savages and Civilization), a professor of anthropology at Macalaster College, traveled thousands of miles, many on horseback, tracing Genghis Khan's steps into places unseen by Westerners since the khan's death and employing what he calls an "archeology of movement." Weatherford knows the story of the medieval Mongol conquests is gripping enough not to need superfluous embellishmentsâ€"the personalities and the wars they waged provide plenty of color and suspense. In just 25 years, in a manner that inspired the blitzkrieg, the Mongols conquered more lands and people than the Romans had in over 400 years. Without pausing for too many digressions, Weatherford's brisk description of the Mongol military campaign and its revolutionary aspects analyzes the rout of imperial China, a siege of Baghdad and the razing of numerous European castles. On a smaller scale, Weatherford also devotes much attention to dismantling our notions of Genghis Khan as a brute. By his telling, the great general was a secular but faithful Christian, a progressive free trader, a regretful failed parent and a loving if polygamous husband. With appreciative descriptions of the sometimes tender tyrant, this chronicle supplies just enough personal and world history to satisfy any reader.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–An interesting, thought-provoking account of the conqueror's life and legacy. From his early years as the son of a widow abandoned by her clan, he showed remarkable ability as a charismatic leader and unifier. In 25 years, his army amassed a greater empire than the Romans had been able to achieve in 400. Whether judged on population or land area, it was twice as large as that of any other individual in history. This colorful retelling discusses many of the innovations that marked Khan's rule and contributed to his success. Although his name is now erroneously associated with terror and slaughter, he showed surprising restraint during a time when few others in power did. He allowed freedom of religion, encouraged free trade, developed a paper currency, and observed diplomatic immunity. As he encountered new cultures, he adopted or adapted their best practices, and constantly updated his military strategies. Although Khan's death occurs at the midpoint of this book, the tales of his survivors' exploits and the gradual fall of the Mongol dynasties are engaging and informative. Weatherford's efforts to credit Genghis Khan and his descendants with the ideas and innovations that created the Renaissance are a bit bewildering, but readers will be left with a new appreciation of a maligned culture, and a desire to learn more.–Kathy Tewell, Chantilly Regional Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 14 2004
Format: Hardcover
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World was exciting and enlightening read. Jack Weatherford's style of writing is easy and flowing making what could be a dry historical work into a tale that explain or debunks many of the myths surrounding the Mongol empire.
Whet your appitite:
-The Mongols had an aversion to physical contact with their dying enemies.
-Both the Russians and Nazis used Mongol military tactics on the Russian front in WWII.
-The Mongols connected the known world inadvertently spreading the bubonic plague.
A few things to note:
-Genghis Khan dies half way through the book. The remainder of the book discusses the man as defined by his legacy which is the influences he had on the future of government, religious tolerance, military tactics, commerce, science and exploration.
-Khubilai Khan rightly takes up a fair number of pages. It is interesting how Khubilai Khan succeeded in conquering the Sung using politics where Genghis Khan had failed with military force.
-I would have like to have seen a family tree starting with Temujin's (Genghis Khan as a boy) parents. The lineage is well covered in the book and I was easily able to draw out the tree myself.
This was a very enjoyable and easy to read book that took many of the myths about the Mongols and either laid them to rest or explained them from the Mongol perspective. It turns out the 'Mongol horde' was actually a well organized society driven with the purpose of increasing trade in manufactured goods.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. E. Robinson on May 1 2004
Format: Hardcover
I recently made a discovery while browsing through the new releases at the bookstore. With no intentions of buying the book I read the first few pages. Once I had read the introduction taken from a 1989 story in the Washington Post I was hooked. The author Jack Weatherford is a professor of anthropology in Minnesota and has done a terrific job of creating an interesting read. Once you start the read it is hard to stop. As part of his research he spent time in Khan's former homeland of Mongolia doing in depth studies, interviews, research, and even camping on the steppes. He has included many references, notes, and comments at the end of this 300 page book including a glossary of Mongol terms.
When one thinks of great historical figures, the Mongols and Genghis Khan are not the first names that pop into your mind. But here is a boy, raised in dire poverty and living right on the edge of survival in central Asia approximately 800 years ago, that somehow survives, and then who rose from insignificance to become a leader of the region. He started a family that conquered most of Asia from Hungary to Korea, from India and China to Russia and south to Israel - and all areas between, and left huge foot prints that lasted hundreds of years in an area of the globe where most people (60%) of the earth lived. He did this with a small group of peoples - the Mongols - and they became the masters of all they could find. It is sort of similar to someone conquering Asia and Europe with the Swiss army, and then changing the histories of these vast regions forever. He amalgamated Russia and China from a series of provinces, created Korea, among other things, and left in place an organization that lasted over 200 years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John D. Cofield on July 7 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a dual biography, of Genghis Khan the man and of the empire he created. Born Temujin in an obscure branch of an obscure group of nomads in Central Asia, Genghis Khan first gained supreme power over the Mongols, whom he unified and turned into a superb fighting machine, then proceeded to conquer much of Eurasia. Weatherford occasionally has to refute some romantic legends that have grown up around Genghis Khan and his family, but the truth is dynamic enough.
Of especial interest is Weatherford's coverage of the after effects of Genghis Khan's empire. The Mongol Empire lasted for only about a century, but its influence lingers on. Cross regional trade tied Europe, Asia, and the Middle East motightly together than ever before. An efficient communications system enabled information to spread at an unprecedented pace. So much of what we regard as essential accoutrements of our modern world can be traced back to the Mongols.
Yes, the stories of Mongol cruelty and ruthlessness are accurate and Weatherford fully covers them, but this book makes clear that without the Mongol influence, our world today might be much poorer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jack Blatant on Nov. 27 2008
Format: Paperback
This was a great read. There surely can be no doubt that Genghis Khan deserves a greater place in history than he has been granted by the historians of the west. This book contains a great deal of fascinating information, including a narrative of Temujin's early childhood. As a new history of the Mongols, this book adds a great deal of interesting and useful information to our general body of knowledge.

That being said, the author goes too far in his attempts to redress the imbalance of previous historians. This first becomes clear when you compare accounts of numerous Mongol victories with the story of the first major Mongol defeat, by the Mamluks at Ayn Jalut. Mongol victories merit page after page of description; Ayn Jalut merits a single sentence. You cannot redress imbalance with further imbalance. Things only get worse when the author turns to the rule of Khubilai Khan; when it comes to Khubilai's supposed influences and achievements, the gentlemen most definitely protests too much. Some of the claims which the author makes are beyond speculative, and have no evidence or foundation whatsoever. It's a shame; this book moves all too rapidly from useful scholarship to the sort of exaggeration that makes revisionist history so suspect.
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