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Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  33,683 Ratings  ·  2,065 Reviews
Weatherford resurrects the true history of Genghis Khan, from the story of his relentless rise through Mongol tribal culture to the waging of his devastatingly successful wars and the explosion of civilization that the Mongol Empire unleashed.
Paperback, 312 pages
Published March 22nd 2005 by Broadway Books (first published 2004)
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Dylan Crossen Weatherford's main citation for Genghis (or Chinggis) Kahn's personal life is "The Secret History of the Mongols." He also references plenty of…moreWeatherford's main citation for Genghis (or Chinggis) Kahn's personal life is "The Secret History of the Mongols." He also references plenty of historians and commentators from a variety of countries and time periods to get an idea of how the world perceived the Mongols.

It's a fun dramatized narrative to read and I'd recommend it as a jumping off point for an interest in the Genghis and the Mongols. However, it is by no means a comprehensive text. Hope this helps friend! :D(less)
Viswanathan K. Not sure what the question is... the book is no more Asian than:
a) A biography of Alexander the Great being Greek;
b) A biography of Steve Jobs being…more
Not sure what the question is... the book is no more Asian than:
a) A biography of Alexander the Great being Greek;
b) A biography of Steve Jobs being American.

It is a great book, if that is what you were asking.(less)

Community Reviews

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Grace Tjan
Jan 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, ebook, history, medieval
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
Dem
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Having listened a couple of years kago to the 5 Star captivating and detailed podcast by Funjokyk Dan Carlin - HardCore HistroyWrath of the KhansWrath of the Khans (Hardcore History, #43-47) by Dan Carlin I became fascinated with Genghis Khan and when this book came up on my recommendation feed in GoodReads I decided to revisit this period in history

The Mongols existed during the 13th and 14th centuries and was the largest contiguous land empire in history. They were experienced rulers way ahead of their time not only in in military terms but also in tr
...more
Chrissie
Jun 03, 2012 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 rated it did not like it
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 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jamie
May 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Michael Finocchiaro
Aug 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
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
Max
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Becky
3.5 Stars, really.

I listened to this audiobook last night, and I found it to be pretty interesting and humanizing to a person that is usually given a pretty bad rap in high school history classes. Usually we're taught that he was a ruthless conqueror who killed hundreds of thousands, millions? Lots of people. But never anything about the man, the person, he is aside from that. How did he grow up to be this man, and why?

This is the story that this book seeks to tell. And it is a fascinating one
...more
Indra
Nov 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Vaishali
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A book 17 years in the making, packed with superlatives & spiced with hyperbole. The author's cheerleading aside, Khan's numbers and creativity alone thrill and bewilder. Alexander, Maurya, and Caesar statistically pale next to this titan... it's not even close.

Massive Mongol Moments :
----------------------

"In 25 years, the Mongol army subjugated more lands and people than the Romans had conquered in 400 years.”

“In American terms, the accomplishments of Genghis Khan might be understood if
...more
Hesamul Haque
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Bryn Hammond
Jan 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Alice Poon
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing

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
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
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
Laureen
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Nathaniel
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
This was a really incredible book for a lot of reasons, and it's going to take me a little bit of time to unpack it.

First and foremost, the book successfully overthrew everything I thought I knew about those rampaging Mongol hordes. Now, you think you know how this is going to go: a historical figure we used to think was a hero becomes a villain or (in this case) vice versa. But it's not that simple. The book in no way glorifies Genghis. But it convinced me that we have his legacy all wrong.

Fi
...more
Esmerelda Weatherwax
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
https://wordpress.com/post/weatherwax...

I don't have a strong background in History, during my high school and college years History was something I had to labor through to get to the fun stuff - chemistry and biology!

As I get older though I'm trying to close the gap in my education through Biographies and History books because it irks me that I didn't take it seriously when I was younger.

This is my first book pertaining to Khan, but I had watched several documentaries on him before. This book r
...more
Katie Lumsden
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
A really great history - engagingly written and definitely opening up an area of history I knew nothing about.
Vismay
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it

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
11811 (Eleven)
Nov 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
David
Jan 12, 2013 rated it liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Sean Chick
This was a very depressing book. It confirms my belief that for people morality is less important than if someone is on your "team." For Weatherford, Genghis Khan is team globalization, so the book is really a long-form apologia for mass murder and conquest.

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World is based on two pillars. One is the idea that the Mongols created the modern ethos of free trade, one world government, religious toleration, feminism (sort of), and learning. The other is that
...more
Rebecca Renner
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This book was fantastic! I found it randomly, and I wasn't sure what to expect. It has just the right amount of detail, and the history is balanced with great storytelling. I definitely recommend this for history buffs looking to branch out from the usual history of the western world.
Karen Mardahl
Jan 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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
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Badass Book Club PDX: Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World 2 14 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 45 Jun 29, 2013 11:15AM  
For anyone wishing to understand modern history 6 108 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

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“The first key to leadership is self-control.” 46 likes
“If you can't swallow your pride, you can't lead. Even the highest mountain had animals that step on it.” 44 likes
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