Web Biographies

Longer biographies | Shorter biographies | Encyclopedias and dictionaries

Longer biographies

The House of Ice biography by James Edmondson. Also available in a long version(which is exceedingly long, for a webpage anyway). Both are based primarily on Grousset's Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia.

Genghis Khan the Universal Prince, one of the more detailed biographies, from the Korean History Project. Biography is not Korea-centered.

Genghis Khan, the Mongols and Asia by Frank E. Smitha. Smitha serves up a popular military-historical account, one of many he's written on topics from the Stone Age to the present day. While it's good to see amateur historical writing on the web, and Smitha has clearly read and absorbed a lot, here and elsewhere he falls victim to the ills of modern-day universal historians—the Durants and Paul Johnsons—failing to understand historical periods on their own terms, elevating detail over analysis, relying on outdated secondary sources. In this case, he's leaning a lot on Harold Lamb's 1927 Genghis Khan, which, the Jeanne Reames-Zimmerman said about Lamb's Alexander the Great book, is best thought of as "popular fictionalized romantic biography." Smitha also offers a link to a truly enormous bibliography--his library, it seems.

Another middling biography. Unknown author.

Genghis Khan: Project World Conquest by Jean-Claude Rochefort. The maps deserve some praise, but the text is of no interest. The author loudly asserts his best stuff is not online, "and will never be!" This is heartening, as what's online isn't merely bad history, it's hardly English—"One is striked by the extreme slowness with which he began to rise."

Shorter biographies

Genghis Khan (Temüjin), 1162?-1227. Short, scholarly biographical entry by one of the leading authorities on Genghis Khan, Morris Rossabi. Provided from Houghton Mifflin's Reader's Companion to Military History. Other pages include Mongols, Kublai Khan and Tamerlane.

A decent short biography by Mark and Kristi, who run "CarpeNoctem," from their Greatest Military Leaders.

Good short biography by Timothy May, a PhD. candidate at Wisconsin-Madison. May's biography comes from a larger unfinished project, Explorations in Empire: Pre-Modern Imperialism Tutorial, The Mongols. Highlights of this project include an (unfinished) section on Travelers and their Narratives, on Carpini, Rubruck, Polo and ibn Khaldun, and a unique section of "Scholar Voices" , with short essays by nine scholars. This is an interesting, but also somewhat maddening, section. In keeping with the origin of the project, most are not experts in Mongolian studies. The questions they ask are conditioned by this. Take, for example, Dane Kennedy's exploration on why "Mongol imperialism seem to be such an anomaly to standard interpretations of imperialism?"

"Most efforts to explain imperialism turn to European expansion in the modern era as their model. But none of these explanations seem relevant to Mongol imperialism. In fact, they appear contradicted by the Mongol example."
His humble conclusion is that historians must "appreciate more fully the limitations of the theories we construct to explain general phenomena like imperialism." This is certainly true, but the problem is of historians' own making. If your points of reference are all modern, you find pre-modern periods a head-scratcher. Genghis Khan's "imperialism" may seem odd from the perspective of Victorian Britain, but it makes a lot more sense within the intellectual structures of ancient history. Genghis Khan looks like Alexander the Great, not the British East India Company! But modern historians don't study ancient history, and regard the historians themselves, often moored in Classics departments, with suspicious puzzlement.

Biography Channel. Short, reliable. (mirror)

Genghis Khan and the Great Mongolian Empire , a short account from Modern Mongolia: Reclaiming Genghis Khan (UPenn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology). The exhibit is largely concerned with later periods, and with general questions of culture and identity.

Who was Genghis Khan? from Genghis Khan, Treasures of Inner Mongolia (The Provincial Museum of Alberta). The site has other sections, such as a timeline. The content is hampered somewhat by the sponsorship—the Chinese government. The links section deftly tip-toes over ethnic issues.

"Infobytes" (quick facts), from Genghis Khan, Treasures of Inner Mongolia (The Provincial Museum of Alberta).

Nation Master encyclopedia page about Genghis khan. The page has an painting/image too.

National Geographic had a 1997 article on Genghis Khan, partially online. Of use are the expandible timeline and a small-ish map.

Old World Contacts: Genghis Khan from the University of Calgary. Brief overview of Genghis Khan and his life.

Sangha.net, "Chingiz Khan." Profoundly humdrum text from religious oddballs devoid of critical faculties (we've tangled before, over Alexander the Great). Somehow Genghis is a "Messenger of Light," along with Jesus Christ, Edgar Cayce, Hatshepsut, and Helena Blavatsky. Meanwhile, injustice has been done to Mary Baker Eddy—the sceptic's sceptic, Mark Twain, is in, but his greatest target is not.

Concluding remark: I did a whois lookup on them. Their official contact info will make you shiver: The World Bank, Washington, DC.

The Electronic Passport to Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan by MikeDowling. Brief educational page, extensively hyperlinked.

School report? Not too great, but I stopped reading after the third persistent pop-up ad.

Unification under Jenghiz Khan by Catriona Macpherson, from The Great Dark Horde, a Society for Creative Anachronism-related site. Heavy on nomads, early life.

Chingis Khan the King biography, from The Realm of The Mongols! by Mongol-enthusiast Per Inge Oestmoen, Norway. Oestermoen's site has a lot of great stuff, including a huge collection of source-fragments on Genghis Khan's "laws," the "yasa" or "yasak." The Genghis Khan biography, however, is larded with noodling like this:

"Speaking of the human collective unconscious, there will within a larger group of people be a spiritual/mental tendency to create just the socioeconomically most propitious conditions for the realization of the relevant aspirations."

ThinkQuest bio. Student-submitted. I scry a big red felt-tip C somewhere.

HyperHistory, a brief overview. Narrow. Ugly. Pink.

Encyclopedias and dictionaries

Wikipedia: Genghis Khan, a good, short introduduction to his life and accomplishments, with the usual side-trip to Mongolian customs. As you probably know, Wikipedia is a sort of "open source" encyclopedia. Anyone can change it—and, perhaps surprisingly, that works very well. Other related Wikipedia pages include Mausoleum of Genghis Khan, and Kublai Khan and Mongol Empire. More and more sites are taking Wikipedia content and surrounding it with ads. I've omitted all those sites.

Concise Britannica. Short but good.

Encarta. I hate Microsoft, but I have to admit this is a pretty good basic intro, with useful hyperlinks to related topics. Larded with ads, however.

1999 IBM Worldbook: Genghis Khan Mongol conqueror apparently by Andrew C. Hess, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. See also Mongol Empire, Kublai Khan and Marco Polo.

Hutchinson's Encyclopedia.

Columbia Encyclopedia , with brief, outdated bibliography.

American Heritage Dictionary with audio pronunciation.

InfoPlease (no thank you!)

LibraryThing: Catalog your books online.

If you enjoy this site you may also like these other sites by me:

Alexander the Great on the Web. Over 1,000 sites about Alexander the Great.

Ibn Battuta on the Web. Comprehensive guide to Ibn Battuta, the great 14th century Muslim traveler.