Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford

76%

7 Critic Reviews

With appreciative descriptions of the sometimes tender tyrant, this chronicle supplies just enough personal and world history to satisfy any reader.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

The name Genghis Khan often conjures the image of a relentless, bloodthirsty barbarian on horseback leading a ruthless band of nomadic warriors in the looting of the civilized world. But the surprising truth is that Genghis Khan was a visionary leader whose conquests joined backward Europe with the flourishing cultures of Asia to trigger a global awakening, an unprecedented explosion of technologies, trade, and ideas. In Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, Jack Weatherford, the only Western scholar ever to be allowed into the Mongols’ “Great Taboo”—Genghis Khan’s homeland and forbidden burial site—tracks the astonishing story of Genghis Khan and his descendants, and their conquest and transformation of the world.

Fighting his way to power on the remote steppes of Mongolia, Genghis Khan developed revolutionary military strategies and weaponry that emphasized rapid attack and siege warfare, which he then brilliantly used to overwhelm opposing armies in Asia, break the back of the Islamic world, and render the armored knights of Europe obsolete. Under Genghis Khan, the Mongol army never numbered more than 100,000 warriors, yet it subjugated more lands and people in twenty-five years than the Romans conquered in four hundred. With an empire that stretched from Siberia to India, from Vietnam to Hungary, and from Korea to the Balkans, the Mongols dramatically redrew the map of the globe, connecting disparate kingdoms into a new world order.

But contrary to popular wisdom, Weatherford reveals that the Mongols were not just masters of conquest, but possessed a genius for progressive and benevolent rule. On every level and from any perspective, the scale and scope
of Genghis Khan’s accomplishments challenge the limits of imagination. Genghis Khan was an innovative leader, the first ruler in many conquered countries to put the power of law above his own power, encourage religious freedom, create public schools, grant diplomatic immunity, abolish torture, and institute free trade. The trade routes he created became lucrative pathways for commerce, but also for ideas, technologies, and expertise that transformed the way people lived. The Mongols introduced the first international paper currency and postal system and developed and spread revolutionary technologies like printing, the cannon, compass, and abacus. They took local foods and products like lemons, carrots, noodles, tea, rugs, playing cards, and pants and turned them into staples of life around the world. The Mongols were the architects of a new way of life at a pivotal time in history.

In Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, Jack Weatherford resurrects the true history of Genghis Khan, from the story of his relentless rise through Mongol tribal culture to the waging of his devastatingly successful wars and the explosion of civilization that the Mongol Empire unleashed. This dazzling work of revisionist history doesn’t just paint an unprecedented portrait of a great leader and his legacy, but challenges us to reconsider how the modern world was made.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Jack Weatherford

See more books from this Author
Jack Weatherford is a professor of anthropology at Macalester College in Minnesota. He is a specialist in tribal peoples and the author of Indian Givers, Native Roots, Savages and Civilization, and The History of Money.
 
Published March 22, 2005 by Broadway Books. 352 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
All: 7 | Positive: 6 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Good
on May 20 2010

Weatherford’s lively analysis restores the Mongols’ reputation, and it takes some wonderful learned detours...A horde-pleaser, well-written and full of surprises.

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Publishers Weekly

Good

With appreciative descriptions of the sometimes tender tyrant, this chronicle supplies just enough personal and world history to satisfy any reader.

Read Full Review of Genghis Khan and the Making o... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Rebecca Hubbard on Nov 08 2010

An even more powerful testament to his power is the still unanswered mystery that surrounds his sulde or Spirit Banner...Leaving no part of the story untold, Weatherford leaves the reader breathless with the very force and vitality of one life.

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Star Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Joel Turnipseed on Apr 24 2004

Even if dubious in its larger claims, Weatherford's portrait of Khan is drawn with sufficiently self-complicating depth that skeptical readers will be able to discern the contradictions that rise from Khan himself.

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Star Tribune

Above average
on Apr 24 2004

Weatherford's engaging if sometimes hard-to-swallow makeover is aided by "The Secret History of the Mongols" -- a long-lost account of Khan's life by the Mongols, found in Chinese transliteration in the 19th century...

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BookDragon

Good
on Nov 29 2010

...it’s simply also an epic story incredibly well-told. Set aside those dry history tomes … let Weatherford take you on this unforgettable adventure across continents and centuries … to read is to believe.

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Birmingham Public Library

Good
on Mar 15 2012

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World focuses almost entirely on the classic Mongol era, the period of Genghis, Ogodei, Guyuk, Mongke and Khubilai Khan. An ongoing stream of insights and details keeps the reader fascinated.

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