The Mongol army led by Genghis Khan subjugated more lands and people in 25 years than the Romans did in 400. 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.
©2005 Jack Weatherford (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
"With appreciative descriptions of the sometimes tender tyrant, this chronicle supplies just enough personal and world history to satisfy any reader." (Publishers Weekly)
"There is very little time for reading in my new job. But of the few books I've read, my favourite is Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford. It's a fascinating book portraying Genghis Khan in a totally new light. It shows that he was a great secular leader, among other things." (Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India)
"Weatherford's admiration for Genghis and his firsthand knowledge of many of the sites important in Mongol history give this text an immediacy and a visual quality that are enhanced by Davis’s presentation. When the narrative begins to lag in its final hour or two as it moves farther from the twelfth century, Davis's crisp pace maintains the listener’s interest to the end. An informative and provocative work of popular history." (AudioFile)
This is a book that can and should read by everyone, at least all with the slightest interest in world history. I feel this so adamantly since what it tells us does away with serious misconceptions about the Mongol Empire. It explains in a clear and comprehensible manner how the world we live in today has been improved by Mongol practices. It is stated that the book is revisionary, but I believe wholeheartedly in what we are told. It is clear and thoroughly documented. What we are told just plain makes sense! The author is a cultural anthropologist and historian.
The book begins with a discussion about the life of Genghis Khan (1162-1227), follows his successors, offering detailed information both about Kublai Khan and powerful women of the clan, discussing the formation of the Mongol nation in 1206, the squabbling that arose between the successive leaders and concludes with a convincing analysis of how the Mongol Empire has influenced today’s world.
We all think of the Mongols as barbarians that wrought havoc on the world. Few of us are aware of how they opened the world to commerce. They opened new trade routes, not only of physical goods but for the transmission of ideas and cultures. I am daunted because I cannot adequately express how this book has so changed how I view world history. I used to praise the new ideas espoused during the Enlightenment, but did you know that Voltaire drew a picture of the savage, blood-thirsty Mongols that served their own purposes and created a one-sided view that hid the truth. Chaucer praised Genghis Kahn and Marco Polo did the same for Kublai Kahn; When Christopher Columbus sailed west it was to look for Cathay, to reconnect with the fantastic trade routes established by the Mongols. I could go on and on showing how what we have been told about these so-called barbarians just doesn’t quite add up! What is explained here in this book makes sense and it changes how we understand today’s modern world.
Did you know that Genghis Kahn made the capital of his Chinese Empire present day Beijing in 1266 and that that the Forbidden City was a huge park filled with wild animals where the Mongol leaders lived in ghers/yurts? Here in this enclosed area the Mongol leaders lived according to their own Mongol traditions. They ate their traditional foods, ate with knives, which the Chinese found abhorrent, drank fermented mare’s milk and practiced their own sports and games, so foreign to the Chinese culture around them. Did you know that “hooray” is based on a Mongol expression of exuberance? Did you know that Columbus called the red-skinned natives he encountered when he landed on the islands off the American mainland Indians because he thought he had met up with the Mongols living south of the Chinese Mongols, the Mongols of India? That is why Native Americans originally were called Indians. There is so much in this book that makes sense, it is like putting together all the pieces of a puzzle and everything fits!
Kublai Kahn supported universal education with classes held in the colloquial language. Paper money was invented by the Chinese, but he saw its practicality and radically expanded its usage. Under his rule China attained its Golden Age of Drama. Medical knowledge, textile production, printing techniques, basically all areas of knowledge that were practical and useful were supported and transported to new areas around the world. Under the Mongol rule there was religious freedom. In the 1200s, think of that!
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Jonathan Davis. His pronunciation of Mongol terms is clear. The pacing is perfect. This is essential in a book of non-fiction. Along with the download one is given pdf files of maps and diagrams. One difficulty that I had, when I searched on the net for further information, was that often more than one name was used for the same person. It is also difficult to recognize Mongol names. This is easier if you can both see and hear them.
It is time that we begin to acknowledge the good things Genghis Kahn and Kublai Kahn have given us. Read this book and you will stop using the word “Mongolian” as a word of slander.
Love a good mystery, but don't care much for pure thrillers.
I barely started the book before being alerted to the fact that the author makes exaggerated claims that are not facts and, in the print version, provides little by way of documentation. Then, since audible makes it impossible to search reader reviews or to bin them by ratings, I turned to some of the one- and two-star reviews on amazon and goodreads by people who already know Mongol culture and history. (I did find one good one here by Mamoun on 11/23/11.) Turns out Weatherford is not a historian but a cultural anthropologist who, as a scholar, apparently committed the sin of losing objectivity and identifying with the culture that he is "studying." Since I bought this to learn history and cannot easily separate the wheat from the chaff, I choose not to fill my head with Weatherford's imaginative notions. I do know enough to recognize that the Mongols are not responsible for the European Renaissance. I'm turning this book back in for a refund.
According to reviewers, this is a repeat of what was done earlier in his "Indian Givers: How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World." (Indian here refers to all the native peoples of South, Central, and North America.) No doubt, they are insufficiently credited in areas of agriculture (potatoes, maize,...) and herbal medicines, and, gosh knows, they have been exploited mercilessly by their conquerers. However, given its drafters and their backgrounds, I find it difficult to believe that the "writing of the United States Constitution" owes much to Indian polity or heritage.
I have either been asleep at the switch my whole life or no one took the time to really teach me history. I had no idea that the world was anything like this book depicts. Your notion about history will change forever once you have read this fantastic book. It really is a game changer.
Fantastic book. Very good introduction to the Mongol History. Wonderfully written, keeps you entertained, wishing that the book never ends.
The narrator also did a wonderful job.
A must read for who likes History
Love listening to books.
Opinionated pseudo-history at best, revisionist nonsense at worst.
Weatherford uses fragments of selectively chosen historical facts to create a view of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire that is not only benevolent, but responsible for everything that shapes the modern world. He credits them as either cause or directly responsible party for paper money, modern medicine, diplomatic immunity, the German Blitzkrieg, public education, international law, printing press, the European Renaissance, international trade, global postal mail, and more. Anything the Mongols did since Genghis is the biggest, best, or just simply the foundation of anything else in the west. As if all the positive reasons aren't enough to create a new view of the Khan, he also declares that Genghis is the reason why European's grew to hate all asians and considered them so backwards they needed European colonialism to rescue them.
Weatherford glosses over the massive slave trade of the Mongols that was unmatched until Stalin and Mao enslaved many in their countries. He ignores the documented brutality of the Mongols, stating that they are simple exaggerations by uneducated writers years after the fact. He even states that the rapes historically described did not really happen - despite the DNA evidence (8% of Asian men, and 0.5% of worlds population).
Bottom line is that this is more a propaganda work that Genghis Khan (who appreciated and utilized propaganda) would have happily approved of for our modern times. It reshapes this bloodthirsty leader into a model for todays world leaders. A lover of peace and commerce that sought to help everyone and protect his mother (yep, another reason given by Weatherford for Khan's conquests).
Some may like this, but I say skip it. It doesn't qualify as history, and probably not even historical fiction. More likely fantasy.
For my part a bad narration is a deal breaker. This was outstanding. Even pronunciations of names and locations. in several languages were pretty authentic. Of course some of the geographic points are not the same as they were but current regions and nations were used to keep the reader engaged.
All I can say is that I never realized that if you do not know and understand the history of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire you do not know or understand anything at all about human history. Period. Absolutely stunning!
When I drive, I read... uhm listen. I like SciFi, Fantasy, some Detective and Espionage novels and Religion. Now and then I will also listen to something else.
The story of Genghis Khan is not so well-known as other parts of history. Jack Weatherford did us a tremendous service by seeking the man behind the myth. He made the customs of the Mongols easy to understand, ensured heartfelt empathy with the Khan and showed the influence of the Mongols on the whole world. Just to think that paper money, cannons and firearms are part of this nation's gift to humankind!
I thought Jonathan Davis did an excellent job of narrating this book. I didn't opt out while listening.
This book comes highly recommended, especially to those who love history and biographical works. The book is a bit of both.
To think that this information has only come together in the past couple of decades, what an amazing eye opener to the influence and impact that the Mongols had on shaping the west and the whole world. So many missing pieces here on my fascination with Europe’s history, this is a must read. Excellent narration, astonishing material, amazing discovery.
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.
"Amazing! Wonderful! Couldn't get enough!"
I stumbled onto this one by chance, and quickly grew to love it -- who'd ever know that much about the Mongols and how they changed the world? Years of research have gone into this book, and it shows. The 'Secret History', an original Mongol document about Gengis Khan's life, only became available for researchers quite recently, so there is now a wealth of brand new information. Many surprises, many really astonishing facts are waiting for the listener! The prose is at the right pace, not patronizing, not too scientific. One can also feel how much the author simply loves Mongolia... Good reader too. I simply couldn't get enough and was thirsting for more when it was over. I am now going to read his other books...
"Liked it so much I didn't want it to end"
I actually already did start to listen to it again. This book is so packed full of interesting stories and information, I found it hard to retain them all from one listen.
I never thought a history book would keep me so entertained and interested. This one certainely did, the story of Gengis Kahn and his sucessors is told so well it almost reads like a novel. I loved the way this book changed my understanding of world history, illustrating the impact of the mongol empire on the world.
Despite being packed with historical information, place names, dates and significant people, this book does not read like a history book at all. The story flows incredibly well and keeps you coming back for more. The reader has a voice that is very nice to listen to, becomes noticable when the reader changes for the afteroword.
I wouldn't say "moved" but I did get excited about this book and recommended it to friends and family.
The ultimate measure of a non-fiction book must be if it changes the way you think and see the world. This one absolutely changed my understanding of history.
"A book that fully illustrates the power of history"
This is fascinating interpretation of the history of the Mongol empire and it's Khans, particularly Genghis Khan and their influence, direct or otherwise, to the modern world, and long overdue recognition of its contribution to the modern western world.
This, to me, illustrates the importance of history, and how from it we learn to understand more of what we have now, and could have in the future. I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of this, and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in seeing the world from a different perspective.
"The best book I may have ever read."
Jack Weatherford actually makes you feel like you are there, unseen as you witness history unfold. I didn't know we owe so much of our modern culture and way of thinking to the Mongals. Such a terrific story. I'm quite sad now that I've finished the book.
"Serendipity is a builder of history."
Avery interesting book with many interesting facts, and ideas, at the very end it showed the author a little too enamored with the nationalistic ideas of a mongolian empire, but it is explainable as a found respect for a people that have been maligned by history and politicians to a point that is quite surprising but understandable in a world where nationalism is the norm and for the most part the imparter of truth for the masses. This book ask us to wake up and burst the bubble of our culture, join the multiverse, the rich tapestry of human history.
A story that adds to what is generally known and changes what is accepted by giving a new perspective.
We learn history in sectional bits, and always as presented by the nation and culture we belong to, so as we read and learn we segment sets of ideas and ideologies of a time and place as unique examples, especially if we do not read a lot or let others explain history with a decided coloration of their point of view, this is why it is important to explore different angles of a period to get a glimpse of past that is less colored by the ideas of one person, past periods or the period you live in; morals and beliefs are not permanent or historically kind to the truth, they are tinted lenses that hide facts to promote their point, because we all live in a reality and culture that it is constantly trying to submerge us in its momentary truth.
Many people have become absolute history masochist and blame all wrongs in the world to our western culture as if all other cultures had no consequence except as victims of our history; in reality we are but a small part of human history and our place in that history is not assured or permanent. We learn more of our history because that is the natural way to connect us to our culture, customs and laws, and because we are a culture that examines and is self critically we tend to amplify our importance and guilt, as this book will plainly demonstrate. With lessons in what an amazing people achieved with limited technology, and how time and politics have distorted their culture and history to a point of near oblivion.
Some of their developments are still with us but silenced by time and the negation of their importance by other cultures and political interest, like the interest of the soviet union and now russia a power that has no scruples in protecting and creating a narrative convenient to its needs, by suppressing the history of the Mongols to this day, or china that has similar interest politically and historically. Also the very success of the this people of the plains still instigates a bit of fear. They subjugated Muslims, christians, buddhist, and animist while expanding in all directions, their methods of war are still relevant, and so should it be with their intense promotion of commerce among different peoples and cultures.
Genghis Khan was but a beginning for a Mongol expansion that lasted through generations with all the ups and downs of human made plans, but maintaining enough momentum to rule a great chunk of the world.
A non apologetic look at an empire that changed the world and is still influencing the present.
"An excellent history."
Starting and focusing on the life of Genghis Khan this book manages to give a insightful look at the rise and eventual fall of the mongol empire founded by Genghis Khan.
I thought I knew something about the Mongol Empire. I was wrong. This book has shown me the richness of the legacy of an empire that changed the course of all of world history in infinite ways but of which my education has taught me next to nothing. I am incredibly thankful for having come across this book.
"Good but only half of it useful"
I bought this book wanting to learn about Genghis Khan. Unfortunately only the first half of the book discusses him and the second part is about Kubel Khan and other leaders. I was disappointed the first half was not longer as this is what I wanted to read about. I feel this is not made clear in the book description.
"An excellent and honest account"
Learned a great deal from this.
So much about this period was completely unknown to me; it is great to fill in a few of the gaps.
My views on both Genghis Khan and the Mongols has changed, greatly.
Looking forward to reading more around this subject.
I really did not know much about Genghis Khan and this book was brilliant in teaching me something. The narrator was so impressive. It is one of the best books that I have listened to.
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