January 6, 2008
To me, the mark of an excellent book is when I am disappointed to reach the last page – a good thing coming to all too speedy end. The last book I read that fell into this category is Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World.
Now I wasn’t completely unaware of Genghis Khan and his role Mongolian history, but this book definitely challenged my perceptions. Jack Weatherford managed to turn a mythic figure into someone human (and vice versa) while chronicling his life in a clear, compelling manner. Granted, the author isn’t immune to bias, but considering how most people picture Genghis Khan as a savage bloodthirsty warrior who laid waste to entire civilizations, this book is bound to open quite a few pairs of eyes – because in the end, his greatest achievement was not in military expansion, but in promoting trade and information exchange between East and West.
Of course, this book also discusses Genghis Khan’s legacy: the many military innovations, the unique culture he helped to create, and even the eventual downfall of his empire. And it is engaging enough to transfix even the non-scholarly types (quite an accomplishment) – it even made the NY Times bestseller list.
Purchase it at Amazon here.