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Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  25,277 Ratings  ·  1,578 Reviews
The Mongol army led by Genghis Khan subjugated more lands and people in twenty-five years than the Romans did in four hundred. In nearly every country the Mongols conquered, they brought an unprecedented rise in cultural communication, expanded trade, and a blossoming of civilization. Vastly more progressive than his European or Asian counterparts, Genghis Khan abolished t ...more
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Published April 6th 2010 by Brilliance Audio (first published 2004)
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Sierranonno The main source quoted in the bibliography is, "The Secret History of the Mongols" (Cambridge Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press 1982)
That notwithstanding, no…more
The main source quoted in the bibliography is, "The Secret History of the Mongols" (Cambridge Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press 1982)
That notwithstanding, no one book can possibly cover the width and breadth of Mongol history....just as no one book can do the same with any other part of world history.
We selected this book for our April 2016 book club.
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Community Reviews

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Grace Tjan
Jan 06, 2012 Grace Tjan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, ebook, medieval, 2012
Genghis Khan and his Mongol Horde were good news for the world. Really. Not convinced? Consider the following:

1. Genghis Khan was an advocate of human rights, specifically freedom of religion, freedom from torture and free trade (he got two of the Four Freedoms right, which is pretty impressive by medieval standards, especially when they still, like, burned heretics and unbelievers in Europe and elsewhere). GK forbade the use of torture in trials and as punishment. He also granted religious free
...more
Chrissie
Jun 03, 2012 Chrissie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that can and should be read by everyone, at least all with the slightest interest in world history. I feel this so adamantly since what it tells us does away with serious misconceptions about the Mongol Empire. It explains in a clear and comprehensible manner how the world we live in today has been improved by Mongol practices. It is stated that the book is revisionary, but I believe wholeheartedly in what we are told. It is clear and thoroughly documented. What we are told just p ...more
Lee Broderick
Aug 26, 2011 Lee Broderick rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This gets two stars instead of one because it's very well written. Factually, however, it's abysmal.

If you want a light, easy and entertaining read, you won't be disappointed. If you'd like to learn about Mongolian history however, I can only urge you not to read this book. A better bet would be the eminently more reliable, but still readable The Mongols by David Morgan.

It suffers from many of the faults common to revisionist history - starting out with a good point but over-exaggerating to th
...more
Lara
May 09, 2007 Lara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This might be my favorite book of all time. It's as fascinating as a history book or biography can get while also being a terrific read. From the first page, you are immersed in understanding how an illiterate steppe warrior became ruler of an empire larger than Africa. Perhaps most enticing to me are the ways in which the survival strategies of steppe nomads influenced the ethics of rulership and the cunning development of military tactics. I recommend this book to anyone with a sense of curios ...more
Jamie
May 27, 2007 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a pretty radical book, and like most revisionist history it goes a little bit overboard with it's thesis: Genghis Khan wasn't a bloodthirsty barbarian, he was the greatest civilizing influence the world has ever seen, bringing peace of rule of law wherever he went!

In addition to the amazing personal details presented about Genghis Khan and his early life as an outcast from one of the most obscure fringe nomadic tribes of Mongolia to, well, King of the World, the book does make a fascinat
...more
Max
Jun 17, 2016 Max rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-history
Weatherford relates the remarkable story of Genghis Khan as told in The Secret History of the Mongols. Born in 1162, Genghis Khan grew up an uneducated outcast on the Asian steppes. He learned through harsh experience to be an astute judge of people, to be self-reliant and to be completely ruthless. He set his own traditions. He valued loyalty first followed by competence. Lineage and social standing did not matter. He was a great organizer and quick study, taking the best ideas from each societ ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
I enjoyed this book by Weatherford on the incredible Genghis Khan. I had no idea how much influence he had on the modern world: the first global currency from the Mediterranean to the Pacific, the first intercontinental mail service, and a religion-free state. It was surprising to learn that this last principle was one which Genghis held very dear. There was one fascinating episode where a group of Islamic heretical extremists called the Assassins (in fact the English word "assassin" takes its o ...more
Indra
Nov 06, 2010 Indra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
To the Young Mongols:
Never forget the Mongolian scholars
who were willing to sacrifice their lives to preserve your history.


Энэ ном надад их таалагдсан. Монголчуудын ахуй амьдралыг сайн дүрсэлсэн, үйл явдлуудыг олон талаас тайлбарласан, ер нь бодит байдалтай их л дөхөм юм шиг санагдав. Бас бидний олж хардаггүй зүйлсийг өөр өнцөгөөс харж бичсэн байсан. Бүх хүмүүст уншихыг зөвлөж байна. Уйтгартай түүхийн ном шиг санагдахгүй гэдгийг амлая (эхний 2 хэсэгт таны мэддэг юм гарах болохоор уйдаж магадгүй,
...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
This is a very entertaining, thought-provoking and well-written book. The relatively low rating reflects my lingering skepticism. The back of the book itself calls it "revisionist history" and Weatherford is not a historian, but an anthropologist. Although to give him his due, he was part of a team that helped translate The Secret History of the Mongols and explored the Mongolian homeland once it was no longer restricted in the wake of the breakup of the Soviet Empire. No doubt the image of the ...more
Hesamul Haque
Feb 10, 2017 Hesamul Haque rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never really thought history can be so much interesting. What past is there behind us! How did we come so far! What happened during those times when there was no exposure!
Reading about Genghis Khan was a marvelous time spent with the book. He had a very rough childhood and his father died when he was very young leaving his mother alone with his brothers to take care.
Undoubtedly, he was extremely intelligent and also a military genius. He used psychlogy during wars. His enemies used to fear him
...more
Victoria Evangelina Belyavskaya
~THE JUST WRATH OF GODS~

Listening to this fascinating audio book in the gym and when walking the dog... Temurlen (as he's known here) had a tough childhood; his warrior life started with his refusal to let go of his beloved wife Borta who was kidnapped by a huge and strong tribe... And he, a 19-year old boy who grew up as an outcast, hunting for rats, went on gathering support to bring her (and also his mother and other women of the family) back, for he felt that his chest was cut open and heart
...more
Alice Poon

This book gives me a whole new perspective on 13th and 14th century world history. It also helps me understand a little more about the Yuan Dynasty in Chinese history (e.g. I learned that it was probably the outbreak of the bubonic plague that led the Mongolian rulers to become paranoid and begin to alienate and repress the Chinese population whom they believed to have been the source of the horrible pestilence).

I'm really glad that I found this non-fiction title after having read Urgunge Onon's
...more
George
"Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World" by Jack Weatherford is both an account of the life and empire of Genghis Khan (1162-1227) and, unfortunately, a series of unsubstantiated claims about the empire's positive contributions to the world.

I wanted to like this book but, the more I read, the more I was bothered by what seem to me to be unsubstantiated and "over the top" claims by the author. Since I know little about Asian history, I can only assume that the first part of the book is
...more
Bryn Hammond
Jack Weatherford is a cultural anthropologist whose speciality is tribal peoples. He has written several books I value -- 'Indian Givers', 'Savages and Civilization', 'Native Roots'. He brings to this one on the Mongols a knowledge and understanding of tribal cultures -- that in fact is rare in historians. I feel Weatherford can tell you things 'straight' historians can't, on the Mongols -- because of his areas of study.

It's true that his account of Temujin's life is an interpreted one -- the w
...more
AC
I lost interest after about 2 hours. The guy's a cultural anthropologist who sat around the Mongolian steepes for five years (after sailing the ocean littoral for several more) eating yak meat in the snow with a group of Mongolian (some, self-styled) scholars. That's very interesting, but doesn't exactly equip him to write a closely focused narrative history (in semi-novelistic fashion) about an individual regarding whom there's not much primary evidence.

The first third deals with Jackie's..., I
...more
David
Jan 12, 2013 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-history
If you choose to listen to this book as two-part, 14+-hour audio download from Audible, be aware that, although the author's introduction appears as the last chapter of the second part (of two) of the audio download, it could profitably be listened to before the rest of the book. Specifically, the author's introduction explains the history of the long-lost and recently-recovered “Secret History of the Mongols”, which is then referred to without explanation in the body of the text.

The author's co
...more
Батбаяр Т
Nov 01, 2013 Батбаяр Т rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Би урьд нь Монголын нууц товчоог нэг удаа уншиж байсан. Одоо бараг мартагнаж байгаа. Уншаад тэр тэгсэн, энэ ингэсэн гэсэн болсон явдлыг л мэдсэнээс биш харин тэдгээр үйл явдлуудын учир шалтгаан, ач холбогдлуудыг тэгтлээ ухаарч мэдээгүй. Гэтэл Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World гэдэг энэхүү номыг уншаад Монголын нууц товчоонд өгүүлсэн зарим үйл явдлуудын ач холбогдлыг ойлгож авсан төдийгүй дэлхийн түүхийн талаас олон зүйлсийг мэддэг боллоо. Мөн Их монгол улс дэлхийн түүхэн хөгжилд ям ...more
11811 (Eleven)
Nov 17, 2015 11811 (Eleven) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I never really studied this end of history beyond the military-conquering perspective and this book had a lot to add. Slow start but I'm glad I stuck it out. For what it's worth, I kept thinking of George Martin's Dothraki in Game of Thrones. Also, my balls hurt a little when I think about riding on a wooden saddle.
Tamara
This was quite interesting without being very interesting, unfortunately. Theres a lot of cool bits and pieces, but they're thrown off a bit off-hand. The Mongols, we're told, established a common currency and universities, but how did that currency actually function, and what did those universities look like? The book seems to lay out the theory, without giving any examples or going into the details. What was going on in practice? What was the shape of the gap?

Secondly, while I usually prefer
...more
Ahmed
Jan 26, 2014 Ahmed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
NGCSU assitant professor of history Timothy May's review of Weatherford's Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World makes it clear that May has made two assumptions: that Weatherford sought to (i) write a book on history, and (ii) that he intended it for Western readers. Many of Weatherford's actual readers may share May's assumptions, but they shouldn't. It seems clear to me that Weatherford has written a work of anthropology and his intended readers---to whom he dedicated the work---are ...more
Johnny Atomic
Jul 25, 2011 Johnny Atomic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the finest biographies I've ever read. Considering the subject matter (an ancient culture that kept few records, which the Chinese tried their best to wipe out), it's mind-boggling the level of research needed to produce such a book. Further, if only half the information contained within was accurate, it would still be one of the greatest attempts to shed light on the practically forgotten works of history's mightiest conqueror: Genghis Khan.

Like most biographers, Weatherford clearly beca
...more
Laureen
Feb 06, 2017 Laureen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was such an eye opener. I did lose little parts of it to traffic concentration. I have always been fascinated by Genghis Khan but this history goes from the 13th Crntury through to present times when GK'sgreat family continued to try and r ulster the Great Khan's methods and principles. Some expanded his legacy, others didn't do so well but all Momgols would have to be in awe of this man. Recommended to all who like to delve into our past in a scholarly way.
Max
Weatherford's page-turner is great work of popular scholarship. I've read other popular histories of Genghis Khan, and this feels far more assured and less... starry-eyed? Modern writers have a tendency (which I share) to get seduced by the extent of GK's conquests, the scope of his ambition, and his surprisingly modern approach to warfare, law, religion, and politics. He was a genius, and he was a mass murderer. Weatherford makes a compelling and measured case for his contribution to human hist ...more
Vismay
Mar 25, 2017 Vismay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Let me tell you from the very outset, Genghis Khan was not a Muslim who perpetrated various acts of violence against the people of India. Furthermore, he even failed to mount a conquest on India as he found the weather to be too hot. Genghis Khan was a Mongol and a shaman who believed in the ‘eternal blue sky’. Though other Mongols adopted Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, he himself stayed true to his roots, while establishing a secular state which extended from Russia to Afghanistan, & fr

...more
Karen Mardahl
Jan 27, 2012 Karen Mardahl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished reading or listening to this book today, and I enjoyed it. I really didn't know much about Genghis Khan, which is why I wanted to read about him to fill in gaps in my knowledge of history. I made a slight mistake by getting curious about the book shortly after I started and reading some reviews on Amazon. A few were scathing and said it was full of errors. Some said the author was blindly impressed by someone who was basically a murderer. At first I was disappointed in having my impre ...more
Kim
Dec 22, 2011 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Kim by: My aunt
Shelves: non-fiction
This is the third book in a trilogy that all Western schoolchildren should read to put worl history in proper perspective. The first is 1491 by Charles Mann about the "real" Americas before Columbus, the second is Destiny Disrupted by Tamim Ansary about the history of the world from the Islamic perspective, and this is the third.

The Mongolian Empire gets a bad rap in the West and all because of a political accident that occurred in 1755. Voltaire was writing a play to skewer the King of France,
...more
Sotiris Karaiskos
May 18, 2016 Sotiris Karaiskos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Οι περισσότεροι άνθρωποι έχουν μεγαλώσει με την εντύπωση ότι οι Μογγόλοι την εποχή του Τζένγκις Χαν και της αυτοκρατορίας του δεν ήταν τίποτα άλλο από απολίτιστοι που δεν πρόσφεραν τίποτα άλλο στην ανθρωπότητα από καταστροφή. Ευτυχώς τα τελευταία χρόνια αυτή η ανιστορική και ρατσιστική αντίληψη έχει αρχίσει να ανατρέπεται τουλάχιστον στους κύκλους των ιστορικών. Προϊόν αυτής της νέας αντίληψης είναι κι αυτό το βιβλίο, που επιχειρεί να γράψει μία πιο αντικειμενική εκδοχή της ιστορίας. Σε αυτήν τη ...more
Sam
Aug 10, 2007 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We all have the stereotype of Genghis Kahn being a bloodthirsty murderer and killing millions of people and then piling their heads up into giant piles. BUT - this isn't the case. Yes it's true that he was responsible for killing a lot of people, but his empire was one of the first to have free religion, free trade, diplomatic immunity, accountability for all people (kings had the same accountability as a peasant), and without the boundaries of religion, science could prosper - unlike Europe whe ...more
Benedict
Mar 02, 2011 Benedict rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had thought that Genghis Khan was another one of those mad conquerors that we had read about in history, like Tamerlane, Attila the Hun or Hitler.

However, his story is more interesting than that. He definitely was a brute. For instance, to help win a battle he would round up villagers who were "trapped" outside the central city walls and force them into the surrounding moat and then trample them with heavy war machines and his own troops on horseback.

He created an empire four times the size of
...more
Ben
Mar 18, 2008 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ben by: Matt
Shelves: non-fiction
A very interesting examination of the life of Genghis Khan and the empire he created. The book starts with Genghis's early life, his uniting the Mongol tribes and his military successes. What was most interesting was that Genghis Khan's ideas, both for his tactics, his military organization, and the administration of his empire, seem to come out of nowhere. His ideas were so innovative that they appear incredible.

The book continues through the reign of his grandchildren, and the eventual fall of
...more
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Badass Book Club PDX: Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World 2 10 Nov 09, 2015 06:57PM  
Children of book ...: Reading Genghis Kahn, making of the modern world 1 2 Jul 10, 2015 09:50PM  
general discussion 7 41 Jun 29, 2013 11:15AM  
For anyone wishing to understand modern history 6 104 May 06, 2013 08:32AM  
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Jack McIver Weatherford is the former DeWitt Wallace Professor of anthropology at Macalester College in Minnesota. He is best known for his 2004 book, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World. His other books include The History of Money; Indian Givers: How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World; and The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescu ...more
More about Jack Weatherford...

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“The first key to leadership is self-control.” 40 likes
“If you can't swallow your pride, you can't lead. Even the highest mountain had animals that step on it.” 36 likes
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