After reading this book, I truly feel I understand what gave the Kahn's their high place in history and opened my eyes to the forward thinking (even by today's society) they employed. While terrible, they were somewhat fair. Amazed at their influence on society, cultures around the world, and the gene pool.
I never knew there was so much to learn about the Mongols! You have got to love history!
I feel so incredibly enriched by this book
Horrified to have been so ignorant about so much history
And like all great books it makes me want more.
The narrator does a great job of taking Weatherford's words and putting the reader on the steppe with Genghis Khan and takes the reader on a journey through the time of the rise and fall of the Mongol Empire.
This is really my first historical audio-book so I have nothing to compare to from that angle, however for some reason I was constantly reminded of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel while listening to this book. I think the main reason for that was because my takeaway from Diamond's book was a highlight of Westernization and I felt excuses were made for other parts of the world not succeeding and thriving, yet the Mongol Empire is an affront to that opinion.
Davis just does an amazing job of adding so much passion and feeling for this story particularly during pivotal moments throughout the story. Davis is more than narrating the tale, he is acting it out for us which ultimately draws the reader in closer providing a more captivating experience.
The final chapters by Weatherford himself are equally epic in nature as Jack tells us in his own words and feelings of the details and hardships he endures while gathering the information needed for this book and they are very much appreciated.
There were a few parts where Genghis Khan cries to the mountain about his path, his continuing war with his childhood friend and of course the problems he had with his sons close to the time of his death.
Jack Weatherford's narration of the journey to Genghis Khan's perceived homeland was nothing short of moving.
I felt that Jack Weatherford's admiration of Genghis Khan was palatable throughout this story and I was expecting more details of the doom and gloom surrounding Genghis Khan and the 20-50 million people that died as a result of his actions.
As these details were not sufficiently covered to my liking, I will continue to learn about Genghis Khan to the point where I can find a complete perspective of the man to obtain a more complete understanding of him and the effects of his life and decisions.
The author of this book cannot be called a scholar of repute. This book is littered with the attitude that the Mongols did nothing wrong and were out to save the world but those dastardly white people ruined it for us all. The book is sourced from the Mongol Secret History which is a dubious at best source with a clear cultural and political bias. This book read's like a love letter from a fan not a honest piece of scholarly work. Yes Genghis Khan is one of the greats in human history but no he was not the almost angelic being of providence the author makes him out to be. If you are interested in a more fair and balanced approach to the Mongols I recommend Dan Carlin's podcast Hardcore History: Wrath of the Kahns.
This is perhaps one of my favorite historical books. One amazing thing about this book is it reaches from the late 12th century into around the modern day (~1945).
It is quite informative, despite having a few factual discrepancies. However, how it is recited reads like any great movie or fictional story would read while also providing factual background into the culture of the Steppe.
Alas, pretty much telling any of it would be spoilers, but surprisingly, there were quite a few.
One thing I noticed about this book, which may lead to some contention among readers, is that its account of Genghis Khan is _very_ favorable. For example, in the Middle East, it is thought that the death toll of Genghis Khan's campaigns reached up to around 15 million, destroyed infastructure, and ruined agriculture for possibly centuries to come. A census of China between 1195 and 1235 shows a decrease in population from around 50 million to 8.5 million. There seems to be very little mention of this in the book.
Conversely, when speaking of Genghis Khan's uniting of the Steppe peoples, it goes into a good deal of detail showing how Genghis brought law and order to where there was once boundless chaos. The ending of the book seemed to paint a positively uplifing view of Genghis.
Take the tone of this book with a grain of salt -- be sure to keep in mind that this is a very one-sided view of the conqueror. Try reading from the other sides to get a more three-dimensional view, such as Rashid-al-Din Hamadani account.
Has instilled in me a deep respect for this great leader, as well as the sacrifices of the scholars who worked to preserve the sacred, secret history. The book seemed long at times, but what else would suffice for the many centuries of impact Genghis Khan has had on our world?! I am stunned that this story is only now being brought to light, and thankful to have had the opportunity to listen!