Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Rutherford

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern WorldGenghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not a fan of history or history books but I found this one interesting. The author describes a Mongol empire I knew almost nothing about, one of wealth, a democratic, intellectual, and commercial mecca during the reign of Genghis Khan (GK). He sets forth Khan’s childhood and rise to power and his subsequent reformation of the Mongol lands from a bunch of squabbling and brutal tribes to a true nation with a vast government, schools, paper money, and extensive trade with foreigners where religious tolerance was practiced. It is clear the author admires GK’s achievements and his personal intelligence and abilities.

Having said that, he tends to minimize or excuse away GK’s brutality toward non-Mongols whom he viewed as barely human like herd animals, and whose main value was in their wealth, which he looted without mercy or compunction. Oddly, brutal as they were at times, the Mongols despised or feared the sight of blood, which they thought contained the human soul, so they often used bloodless, and exceptionally cruel, ways of killing rivals even within their own Mongol nation, like tying them up, wrapping them in blankets and stomping or crushing them to death with horses or even dancing on them. There was more of that in the book than I cared to read about. I’m not naive enough to believe Europeans of the age were any better, but I did not come away with an admiration for Genghis Khan’s benevolence. His vengefulness and egotism reminded me of an ex-president in the news, the main differences being that Genghis Khan was intelligent and honest in trade.

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