Paper Biographies

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World | Genghis Khan: Life, Death and Resurrection | Other biographies | Academic works | Video (not made of paper)

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

Amazon. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford. Weatherford recently-released biography makes the case for Genghis the tolerant uniter and reformer—not the bloodthirsty tyrant. (publisher's blurb)

"Revising Genghis Khan's Legacy," NPR overview by Robert Siegel on All Things Considered.

"'Genghis Khan' a revisionist look at the ultimate barbarian" review by Joel Turnipseed, Star Tribune, April 25, 2004 (may require registration). An "engaging if sometimes hard-to-swallow makeover."

"A Scholarly Quest to Understanding Genghis Khan" by Jack Weatherford, from The Chronicle of Higher Education (April 2000), written in advance of the book.

"Embrace the inner Genghis" by Gregory M. Lamb, Christian Science Monitor (March 23, 2004). Positive review which mostly recapitulates the argument. Like so many reviewers, Lamb asserts that the Secret History was "just cracked" (not quite as my other pet-peeve, that the Nag Hammadi texts were "recently discovered"). Further, the Secret History did not single-handedly cause the re-evaluation of Genghis Khan. Non-historians tends to stress "new evidence" over "new analysis," the real "secret" to the advance of historical understanding.

Weatherford's homepage at Macalester with pictures of Weatherford in Mongolia.

"Hurray for Genghis Khan," a double review of Weatherford's Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World and John Man's Genghis Khan: Life, Death and Resurrection (not yet released). Reviewed by Peter Gordon for the Asian Review of Books.

Blog review by Shaz Rasul, "…a thoroughly good read, and makes me want to delve into some 'real' scholarship on the subject."

Blog review by Li, former graduate student of Asian history.

"This book gives a non-academic audience the best presentation of the Mongol perspective than anything else I've read in English, except for the translation of the Secret History itself."

AP Story on Weatherford and his book.

Genghis Khan: Life, Death and Resurrection

Amazon UK. Genghis Khan: Life, Death and Resurrection by John Man. Will not be released in America until February 2005.

"Khan of all he surveys" review by Sue Bradbury, Guardian (March 20, 2004).

"John Man's absorbing and beautifully written book investigates a vast amount of evidence, much of it partial, much of it conflicting and much of it mysterious, to produce a thrilling account of Genghis's life, death and his continuing influence."

"The worst man in the world, ever, possibly" review by Tze Ming Mok New Zealand Listener (April 2004). Funny, harsh criticism of Man's methods:

"Man summarises the major historical sources well for the most part, but visibly strains to exceed them. … The result is an extremely unconvincing character-study, from a historian seemingly seduced by an absent personality."
"… Man's reorientation of world history around the fate of Mongolia and a resurgent Genghis cult, sound as bad the Chinese propaganda he mocks, and will be less successful."

"Steppes towards the future" review by Felipe Fernández-Armesto, The Independent (March 2004).

"Man's reconstructions, though tentative and teasing, are always lively and argued with élan. His excursions are sometimes over-elaborate: the last third of the book drags along after the khan's death. Much useful context is missing: there are under-exploited sources for the reconstruction of life at Genghis Khan's court and the role of power-women in influencing the politics of his seraglio. "

Transcript of Interview with Man on The Ark, with Rachael Kohn, on Australian National Radio.

Review by VirtualCritic "Hamish", who writes that Mann's book "lacks cohesion, often promising much (and sometimes delivering), but ultimately failing to draw the reader into its world."

Other biographies

Amazon. Genghis Khan: His Life and Legacy by Paul Ratchnevsky. This is the most "scholarly" of the books out there. Ratchnevsky attends carefully to matters of source and methodology, and comes to many of the same conclusions as Weatherford later did.

Amazon. Genghis Khan by R. P. Lister. Reviews split. On says it's "astonishingly well-written account of the early life and rise to power of Genghis Khan," another thaink it "appropriate for entertainment because of its lack in depth."

Amazon. Genghis Khan by James Chambers (Sutton Pocket Biographies). I haven't read this one, but I like the series.

"History - Better Served by Fiction?" reviewed by Guy Rubin. Unknown source. Rubin wants more background, and more myth.
"All you'll find here is a tidy introduction to the consensus history … It is only in approaching the myth of Genghis Khan, that one may glimpse the wounded and sometimes savage human being beneath."

Academic works

Amazon. Mongolian Nomadic Society : A Reconstruction of the 'Medieval' History of Mongolia by Bat-Ochir Bold.

Amazon. The Reader's Companion to Military History edited by Robert Cowley, Geoffrey Parker and the Society for Military History. Buy it at Amazon, or read selected sections online, including:

Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan and Tamerlane.

Video (not made of paper)

Amazon. A&E Biography, Genghis Khan (2000). The reviews are mostly bad, eg., "I swear not to buy A&E biographies anymore!" "It was pathetically inaccurate."

A&E page, with lengthy textual biography and product details.

LibraryThing: Catalog your books online.

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