Review: Genghis Khan, Jack Weatherford

Rating: 5 out of 5

I really enjoyed this, mostly due to Mr Weatherford’s perspective in putting himself in the shoes of the people he is describing. Too many historians never give credence to the actual difficulties which would have been in the minds of the people they are describing due to their distance from what they are describing. The author’s description of why the visit to the Khan’s original homeland was helpful is, in that way, an eye-opener and one which should be emulated.

At the same time, my grounding in Central Asian history is not strong enough to offer adequate commentary on the author’s views on the movement of technology from west to east and east to west. The narrative, however, did pick up pace as it moved on from the early descendants of Genghis Khan into slightly later periods, including Tamerlane and Babur. However, what came after — the description how the name of Mongols had been taken and used as an invective ever since is a sad indictment of nominal Western supremacy and, in the great retrospective view, illustrates how something similar to the “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Scheme” had to come into existence sooner or later.

Overall, therefore, while factual errors might abound, I think this fills a gap which is otherwise left to European stories of how good they are despite having made their wealth from racial abuse. As such, the narratives of the Great War Eastern Front Germans who rage against the Russian “Asiatic Hordes” also take on different hues — as indeed does much of history that is written or talked about in this way. What the name of a great man (no matter his stance on torture, women or anything else — Genghis Khan built a great empire, though with a flawed succession policy) can mean to future…

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