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The Secret History of the Mongol Queens by Jack Weatherford
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May 25, 10

bookshelves: 2009
Read in February, 2010

After reading Jack Weatherford's "Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World" I went and pre-ordered this book - and I wasn't disappointed.

The author tells a gripping story of lost history and the role the female heirs of Genghis Khan played in his Empire. While the Great Kahn was out conquering the world, his wives and daughters managed his empire, created bureaucracies, public projects and kept trade relationships alive. In a stroke of genius, Genghis Kahn married his daughters to men who ruled strategic points along the famous Silk Road which not only lent him eyes and ears in those important locations, but also established his presence even though he wasn't physically there.

These daughters weren't the timid kind; they were strong, independent women who inherited their father's political cunningness and warrior spirit. However, after Genghis Khan's death these strong women, daughters, sisters and sisters-in-law began a power struggle which lasted for centuries and eventually almost destroyed the Empire their father has built.

The book tells an astonishing tale of a once world wide Empire being torn apart by inept rulers, sibling rivalry and incompetent leaders (something I'm sure most of us can relate to) pitting mothers against sons and brothers against sisters.

The book ends with the astonishing tale of Queen Mandhuhai the Wise who reunited the Mongols while fighting the Chinese Ming dynasty and the Muslim warlords. Her successful campaigns, which she waged even when pregnant, promoted China to erect the Great Wall and preserved peace for her children and the nation.

Jack Weatherford writes in a style which transcends dry facts and dates, he brings the stories to life while drawing lines between events and people. The author realizes the names are difficult for the English speaking natives and reminds the reader every now and then who a character is when he/she reappears several pages later, which is fantastic. The information is presented in a manner which is not only linear, but also follows a certain path - which makes this book easy to comprehend and a joy to read.
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