Monday, 23 July 2012

Book review: Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to the version of this book. I purchased the book because I wanted to learn more about non-European history. With the exception of my enthusiastic yet patchy knowledge of Japanese history, so much of what I have learned about the past, whether at school or otherwise, is heavily Euro-centric. I am keenly aware of the gaps in my knowledge, and that my worldview must be biased because of it.

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World started by recounting what is known of the early life of Genghis Khan, or Temudjin as he was known then. It moves on to how he gained rule and founded his Empire, and recounts his conquests. The book doesn't stop with the death of Genghis Khan, but rather follows the Empire under the rule of his sons and grandsons, until the breakdown of the Empire several generations later. The book also details some long-standing influences the Mongolian Empire had on global culture. For example, Genghis Khan was the first ruler to try to establish a common writing system that could be used to write any language; and the Mongols established many of the major trade routes throughout Asia.

The research sources used in this book are not always reliable, but the author takes the time to mention when there are doubts about the veracity of a claim. Therefore, the reader or listener has an idea of how likely it is that the events in the book are true as portrayed. I appreciated this honesty.

Overall, I found this book to be a fascinating and informative listen.

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