Bryn Hammond's Reviews > The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia

The Empire of the Steppes by René Grousset
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it was amazing
bookshelves: steppe-history, website-widget

I doubt I can be objective on this book. It was my first full-scale history of the steppe; my first real acquaintance with the life of Jenghiz Khan, too (as spelt in Grousset). First published 1939; in print for its 'majestic sweep and grandeur... the intellectual grasp of Grousset's original masterwork'... 'uniquely great'. That's from the forward to the 1970 edition in English, and I might just end my comments there.

It is a sweep of steppe history, and captured my imagination: his descriptions of steppe art; his portrait of Jenghiz Khan, and the latter's similarity to Attila. I met Jenghiz Khan here, and perhaps that's why I can't stand most biographies of him - because he's as Grousset paints him, at bottom, to me. It's a striking portrait and one not easily overwritten, if Grousset's came first.

Since he wrote in 1939 he has outdated knowledge and of course you have to read further. But for that 'majestic sweep' and steppe history seen as a follow-on whole, for his brave attempts to characterize such as Attila and Jenghiz, and not least for his open mind and sympathy with nomad peoples - I'm so glad that by mere accident, I started here.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
February 2, 2012 – Shelved
February 2, 2012 – Shelved as: steppe-history
October 26, 2012 – Shelved as: website-widget

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