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The Secret History of the Mongol Queens Audiobook

The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire

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Publisher's Summary

The Mongol queens of the 13th century ruled the largest empire the world has ever known. Yet sometime near the end of the century, censors cut a section from The Secret History of the Mongols, leaving a single tantalizing quote from Genghis Khan: “Let us reward our female offspring.” Only this hint of a father��s legacy for his daughters remained of a much larger story.

The queens of the Silk Route turned their father’s conquests into the world’s first truly international empire, fostering trade, education, and religion throughout their territories and creating an economic system that stretched from the Pacific to the Mediterranean. Outlandish stories of these powerful queens trickled out of the Empire, shocking the citizens of Europe and and the Islamic world.

After Genghis Khan’s death in 1227, conflicts erupted between his daughters and his daughters-in-law; what began as a war between powerful women soon became a war against women in power as brother turned against sister, son against mother. At the end of this epic struggle, the dynasty of the Mongol queens had seemingly been extinguished forever, as even their names were erased from the historical record.

One of the most unusual and important warrior queens of history arose to avenge the wrongs, rescue the tattered shreds of the Mongol Empire, and restore order to a shattered world. Putting on her quiver and picking up her bow, Queen Mandhuhai led her soldiers through victory after victory. In her 30s she married a 17-year-old prince, and she bore eight children in the midst of a career spent fighting the Ming Dynasty of China on one side and a series of Muslim warlords on the other. Her unprecedented success on the battlefield provoked the Chinese into the most frantic and expensive phase of wall building in history. Charging into battle even while pregnant, she fought to reassemble the Mongol Nation of Genghis Khan and to preserve it for her own children to rule in peace.

At the conclusion of his magnificently researched and ground-breaking narrative, Weatherford notes that, despite their mystery and the efforts to erase them from our collective memory, the deeds of these Mongol queens inspired great artists from Chaucer and Milton to Goethe and Puccini, and so their stories live on today. With The Secret History of the Mongol Queens, Jack Weatherford restores the queens’ missing chapter to the annals of history.

©2010 Jack Weatherford (P)2010 Random House

What Members Say

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  •  
    Kimberley Woodbridge, NJ, United States 08-07-10
    Kimberley Woodbridge, NJ, United States 08-07-10 Member Since 2012
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    "Amazing History"

    Who would have thought that Genghis Khan was a feminist? He set up his Empire to be ruled by his female as well as his male descendants. Although much of the documents recording this were redacted, enough remains to establish the legacy of powerful women protecting and reclaiming his empire.

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
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    Shawn Los Angeles, CA, United States 08-09-10
    Shawn Los Angeles, CA, United States 08-09-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Another Great Book"

    Another GREAT book by Jack Weatherford about the Mongols. I was amazed by the amount of info givin in this book & in a manner that made it digestable & entertaining. The number of people from history that are unknown to us even if they had as large an impact as many in this book is mind blowing. 5stars

    15 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 10-02-10
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 10-02-10 Member Since 2016

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

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    "Mongol Queens"

    I read the first book on Genghis Khan and now on the Mongol Queens. This is a good book all women should read this and find out how much more freedom the women had under the Mongol rule compared to Islam and in Europe. The long term effects of the Mongol was very interesting. The information provided in this book gives a different view of history compared to the standard European view we were taught in school. So much new information has been discovered recently. Great history told in an interesting fashion.

    26 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hasmi Banff, Alberta, Canada 09-26-13
    Hasmi Banff, Alberta, Canada 09-26-13 Member Since 2016
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    "Absolutely Brilliant!"
    What did you love best about The Secret History of the Mongol Queens?

    Beautifully written, lyrical, fascinating, engaging.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    All of them. The Mongol Queens were all incredibly fascinating. Weatherford writes about the time of each queen so clearly that you marvel at what each one accomplished.


    Have you listened to any of Robertson Dean’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Great.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Too many. The writing is so beautiful - this book felt like it was a love story written to those ignored and maligned Mongol Queens. Their stories are incredible - some warriors, some dedicated mothers, some both, some neither but all of them are completely fascinating.


    Any additional comments?

    I just couldn't believe their stories. At the end (spoiler alert sort-of) Weatherford explains how he got into the story of The Mongol Queens and how the mystery of these women, found in fragments of text, or their names eliminated from those texts, captured his imagination and pulled him further and further into the past. I felt as he did - their stories were incredible and Jack Weatherford brings them to life beautifully.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janine Singapore, Singapore 09-17-12
    Janine Singapore, Singapore 09-17-12
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    "An outstanding "read""
    What made the experience of listening to The Secret History of the Mongol Queens the most enjoyable?

    Robertson Dean took an excellent story, filled with "strange" names and far off places, and made it come alive.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Secret History of the Mongol Queens?

    The part where Queen Manduhai falls off her horse when heavily pregnant and her warriors create a human wall and save her.


    Which character – as performed by Robertson Dean – was your favorite?

    The insights into an ancient culture and ways was my favourite aspect of the book.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The part where Queen Manduhai falls off her horse when heavily pregnant and her warriors create a human wall and save her.


    Any additional comments?

    Well worth listening to.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy 06-20-12
    Nancy 06-20-12
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    "Great listen"

    Another great history book that widens my global view. I didn't know anything about this era and was impressed with the culture of the Mongols and the women in this story. I will be reading more from this author.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. Smakman Netherlands 06-21-16
    E. Smakman Netherlands 06-21-16 Member Since 2007
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    "A watered down version of the original"

    I greatly enjoyed the first book by Jack Weatherford about the Mongol Empire, from its pre-infancy up to its decline and its continued influence of the world around us. That book was coherent, linking people, places and events in an inspiring way, and showing us the Mongols in an entirely new way.

    Mongol Queens is a decent follow-up, but makes one essential mistake. It focuses on the women of the Mongol empires throughout the centuries after Genghis Khan. Although it is 'a story that needs to be told' - which I agree with - it also means that sometimes the women are dragged into the story and history of the mongols where their actual contribution was quite limited. That is a pity. I think Weatherford could have written a greater book if he would have made the women important, but not the only part of this book.

    Just a brief overview and why I think it is still a good book. I see the book in three parts:
    1 - the first Queens in the Mongol Empire: the wives and daughters of Genghis Khan. They played a crucial part in binding the empire together, keeping allies and securing bases within and outside the Mongol territory. This part is excellent as a context for Genghis' strategies and a worthy addition to the first book.
    2 - the chaos and tribal fracturing following the death of Genghis Khan, in which the importance of women declined (or was broken) and the women and men in and around the Mongol royal family struggled with each other for the power. A bloodthirsty struggle, reminiscent of the decline of the Roman empire where Emperors followed each other in quick succession, each dying a violent death. This period more or less comes to an end when almost all descendants of Genghis Khan have been killed.
    3 - 'almost', because part 3 is in a way the only part that truly conveys the meaning of the title of the book. This is about Queen Manduhai the Wise, a woman who married an old Mongol tribal leader but throughout her life took more and more control over the Mongols, together with her newly adopted infant husband and true descendant of Genghis Khan. She reconquered Mongolia, and strengthened her base there, being wise enough to not stretch her army. She brought order and stability, and gave the Mongols a renewed sense of pride and honor. She is the true heir to the legacy of Genghis Khan.

    So, in brief: part 1 is an annex to the first book, part 2 is a mess with the consecutive warlords and lordesses, and part 3 is another magnificent book in itself.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    joan YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY, United States 12-12-13
    joan YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY, United States 12-12-13 Member Since 2016

    74 y o avid reader using either my eyes or ears. I make earrings that I donate to shelters and while I work, I listen to wonderful books

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    "The first one is better"

    I read his Genghis Khan bio and loved it. This one is a bit too "factual" without the glimpses of the people's smaller activities. Maybe the scope was too big and he should have singled out fewer women to profile.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
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    James Palmer, AK, United States 01-31-16
    James Palmer, AK, United States 01-31-16 Member Since 2010
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    "I will come back to listen to this again and again"
    What did you love best about The Secret History of the Mongol Queens?

    I learned about human behavior. I finally got it. Humans are jerks. It's been happening for thousands of years and no matter what I do to try to make things better, humans are jerks and will ruin it. I was heartbroken to realize that Genghis's sons were jerks to his sisters and that within a generation that all that he'd worked for would fall apart.

    But just as there are jerks, there are also good people who fight to help out. I admired other kids, grands, their spouses, doing whatever they could to help make their world better. I loved this aspect, too.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Secret History of the Mongol Queens?

    I found the last section to be the most memorable because I am a tree hugging world peace wanting neo-hippie. I realized that the human condition is to fight and to be at war and that we will have to fight for peace. (That sounds silly: fight for peace.) Even if things are good for everyone, someone will want to fight because they are able and can get more. This isn't just a modern day problem.


    What does Robertson Dean bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He's just a great orator. I will look over what else he does so I can listen to more of the works that he reads. He did what a good orator will do-- he brings characters to life and makes them exist in the listener's mind.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I called in sick for a church event so I could keep listening.


    Any additional comments?

    Yes. I wanted to see what my friends were so psyched up over and at first I bought some "chick lit"-- women's literature-- and it was *death by a thousand paper clips*. My ears hurt. Thank goodness for Audible's return policy. I returned the women's literature book a couple of days later and I am thankful that I could return it and buy this book, instead, The Secret History of Mongol queens is a great read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcus 04-05-14
    Marcus 04-05-14 Member Since 2015
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    "If you can manage a yurt you can rule an empire"

    If you are looking for a different type of feminism in a much harsher world then this is the book for you. I love being surprised when I read or listen to books about other cultures and discovering the extent of female power in the mongol world was certainly that. I really enjoyed the basic job description for any prince who married into Genghis Khan's family. Well written and very well read my only complaint was that I wanted more.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
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  • Amazon Customer
    GB
    12/26/15
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    Performance
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    "Well written, interesting, enligtening"

    I have bought this book to learn about Mongolia and as a co-listening book to Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by the same author. Both books are giving a complex view of Mongolian history roughly since Genghis Khan's birth till discovery of America by Columbus. The Mongol Queen's history is something new and fresh, something we do not learn in school and do not often hear of in educative media. Most people are familiar with Genghis Khan but I bet noone knows and is interested in his wifes, doughters and other female relatives, even though they formed an undisputable part in history and without their influence and interference the course of events would take completely different turns. I was happy to learn that they were not just nameless persons in the background but that they were able to capture the power and be real queens, respected and counted on. Compared to other nations of that time period Mongolian women were experiencing more freedom and opportunities than was habitual and some of them were able to use this advantage to pursue their ambitions
    I enjoyed this book as well as narration that was clear and comfortable to listen to. I am tempted to buy this book in printed form for future reference and possible re-reading.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Heather
    Forneth, Perthshire
    10/26/10
    Overall
    "Scholarly, interesting view"

    I enjoyed it - it provides a new view of a society considered male dominated. Poor old Ghengis had a whole bunch of useless sons, but some pretty canny daughters. This history is constructed from fragments and folklore, but it hangs together nicely.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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