This is a wonderful book for those that don't know the many good things about the expansion of the Mongols. Focus is given on religious tolerance amonThis is a wonderful book for those that don't know the many good things about the expansion of the Mongols. Focus is given on religious tolerance among the Mongols (There were many openly Christian Mongols in the horde.), and the fact that the Mongols' "Rules of War" were surprisingly compatible to our modern, "civilized" rules - including protection of diplomats, declarations of neutrality, and protection of innocent individuals who could be used in rebuilding. Weatherford even describes how many of the acts of pure greed ended up being in the end good, on a global scale. The Mongols at times considered non-nomads to be little more than cattle, to be traded. But as the Mongol warlords used shared loot (including people) to improve their lands, they caused a massive sharing of knowledge. Persian astronomers and mathematicians were brought to China. Chinese doctors were brought to Persia. European miners and craftsmen were brought throughout Asia. Even as Kubilai Khan started to act more and more Chinese, he commissioned a new writing system meant to be perfectly capable of writing every language in his domain.
However, in his zeal to show us the good side of the Mongols, Weatherford gets a few facts wrong, and brushes over a few of the warts that came up during Mongol rule. For instance, Weatherford states several times that Europe was not writing in their own languages until the Renaissance, perhaps unaware that the first inscriptions in English date from around 480, and that the Anglo Saxon Chronicle recorded English history - in English - from 890 until the 1100s. Only a small statement is made on the later Ilkhanate, when it became incredibly religiously intolerant - placing a special tax on Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians; ordering Buddhists to convert or leave; in the end even Muslims who were not of the right sect weren't safe. ...more