Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

Book - 2004
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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.
Publisher: New York : Crown, c2004
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780609610626
0609610627
Characteristics: xxxv, 312 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm

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1Greengenecafe
Jul 28, 2017

Chingis Khan was one of the best books I have read in my life. This book exposed me to an perspective of world affairs in a way I did not expect. Chingis was born into a world and culture of sin and shaped by the iniquities of it. He had no control of where he was born, yet, had the vision to fight to make it better. I can not say that a higher power was not guiding his life and hands. I cannot say that any other approach would have given birth to the positive aspects of his and mongol life. I think this book changed my life. I dare not complain about what I might percieve as hardship . I have new understanding of persistence and patience of spirit.

t
TeresaWBrown
Sep 13, 2016

Everyone should read this book. Genghis Khan is so not who you thought he was. Brutal, yes but also established freedom of religion, public education for all, global trade and the advancement of all-not just the ruling classes.

s
SherryD_0
Jun 01, 2016

Beautifully written. Adds to our understanding of history and culture down to today.

s
StarGladiator
Sep 22, 2015

Genghis Khan, the Great Castrator! No thanks, I suspect all those males he and his hordes castrated just might not agree with this author, just as I have had many a heated argument with so-called dems over LBJ [the man who completely flipped on the great accomplishments of JFK, except for one, the Civil Rights Legislation, but then LBJ was planning on drafting as many young American males as possible!]. Castrated the males, mass raped the women! Civilization marches on? [Of course, the strategy of the Khan did indeed guarantee that 1% to over 2% of the present population stretching from Austria to the eastern edge of Asia would be descended from him.] By the end of this book you'll be thinking of Genghis Khan as a modern day George Will?!?!?

r
ReidCooper
Dec 27, 2013

Very readable and compelling, Weatherford writes with unambiguous sympathy of Genghis Khan and his immediate family as human beings. While often called revisionist, he is clearly building on the work of earlier writers, like David Morgan, whose 1986 book "The Mongols" Weatherford quotes. Weatherford goes to some length to dispel certain misconceptions about Genghis Khan, as distinct from later rulers & conquerors who claimed to be his descendants.

r
Rock_Shadow
Aug 04, 2013

Wonderful read. Great story, fascinating history, and, food for further thought - the tribal culture vs culture that tills. Highly recommend.

s
shelleysf
Aug 18, 2012

Weatherford's treatment of Genghis Khan's history is an important revisionist document for American audiences. It updates our hopelessly out-of-date conception of the nature of Genghis Khan's rise, conquests, and empire. At the same time, however, Weatherford fails to mention that the "Secret History of the Mongols," from which he bases much of his text, is very much a literary document, and open to interpretation. It's an enjoyable and quick read, appropriate for teenage through adult audiences. I, for one, wish it had been published when I was a teenager; I would have loved reading it.

m
Mualla
Aug 03, 2011

Jack Weatherford, being an anthropologist did an excellent job to explore the 13th century genius. The following paragraph from him sums it up: "In American terms, the accomplishment of Genghis Khan might be understood if the United States, instead of being created by a group of educated merchants of wealthy planters, had been founded by one of its illiterate slaves, who, by the sheer force of personality, charisma, and determination, liberated America from foreign rule, united the people, created an alphabet, wrote the constitution, established universal religious freedom, invented a new system of warfare, marched an army from Canada to Brazil and opened roads of commerce in a free-trade zone that stretched across the continents. On every level and from any perspective, the scale and scope of Genghis Khan's accomplishments challenge the limits of imagination and tax the resources of scholarly explanation."

m
Mongolian_girl
Feb 07, 2011

I found this book very hard to put down. In addition to giving a very clear account on the MASSIVE impact that Chinggis Khan had on the world in his time, this book gives voice to what the Mongolian people have been saying for centuries about their national hero. Weatherford writes in a very readable manner, almost like a novel. It certainly opened my eyes to new concepts about world history. I've recommended it to many, and they all loved it.

j
jacquep
Sep 02, 2010

This was a great eye opener for me regarding the achievements of Genghis Khan. I now view European history of this time period in a whole new light. I really enjoyed reading this book.

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