10 things I learned from the book | Genghis Khan and the making of the modern world
10 things I learned from the book | Genghis Khan and the making of the modern world

10 things I learned from the book | Genghis Khan and the making of the modern world

Book Post : 26

Book Name : Genghis Khan and the making of the modern world

Author : Jack Weatherford

Genre : Non-Fiction/History

What is it about?: It is, as the name says, about Genghis Khan the founder of the Mongol Empire who lived from 1162 AD to 1227 AD. Mongol empire became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death. This book recounts the life story of the khan from his birth through his childhood and how he ultimately became the great khan. And it continues after his death to his descendants who became some of the most influential kings in their own right. And most importantly this book covers the contributions of the Mongols in the making of the modern world. They contributed a lot and the world would have been much different if their contributions are taken out. Read below to find out some of those. contributions.

How I came to read it : 
I was reading another book on the crusades when there was a passing mention of the Mongols and the terror they created in the people then. This piqued my interest and I picked up this book from my local library branch.
Did I like it? : Yes, this book is a good read. The author moves the narrative fluidly and quickly with interesting anecdotes thrown in now and then. There are no boring passages in this book. There is a lot of information about how the history of the Mongols was uncovered and the many sacrifices the scholars had to make to obtain the information and preserve the history. Genghis Khan was such an influential figure that hundreds of years later establishments were still fearful what free information about his life and times can do to people so the Soviets kept much of his info under wraps. The ending of the book is very poignant.
For me this book was an eye opener. Fed by the memes and the false information floating around the internet I had very different views of the Mongols and Genghis Khan. This changed all of that. The Mongols were not what we view them today as savages and primitive people who knew only to fight. They were much more than that.
Top 10 things I learned from this book:
1.  The first and foremost point that I would like to get out of the way before we move onto other points is that Genghis Khan was not a Muslim. With a lot of Islamophobic sentiment around the world these days Genghis Khan is viewed as another savage king in a long list of brutal Muslim kings(which again is a subject of an entirely different and complex discussion so Ill skip that for now). But the great khan was not Muslim. The word ‘Khan’ is a common Muslim surname in the subcontinent but it actually is derived from the historic title ‘Khan’ meaning a military chief or ruler. It originated in central Asia/Europe. Genghis Khan was shamanist.
2. Genghis Khan is considered to be the one of the greatest generals the world has ever seen and he is considered to have perfected the art of siege warfare to such an extent that he ended the era of walled cities.
3. In 20 years, the Mongol army conquered more lands than the Romans had done in 400 years. This tells us the Mongol military tactics and the later administration of the conquered lands was very effective.
4. One of Genghis Khan’s greatest achievement was the creation of a new world order. Before him there were pockets of civilizations in the world and they knew nothing of each other. For example, there were no connections between China and Europe. By the time of his death, Genghis connected them with diplomatic and commercial contacts which survive till day.
5. Mongols are known to have created the first International Postal system.
6. He granted religious freedom to all people under his realms. In this Mongols were doing much better than Europe where people were butchering each other over religious differences.
7. Mongols are considered Civilization’s ”unrivaled cultural carriers”. As the author states, Mongols ”made no technological breakthroughs, founded no new religions, wrote few books or dramas, and gave the world no new crops or methods of agriculture. Their own craftsmen could not weave cloth, cast metal, make pottery, painted no pictures, and built no buildings. Yet, as their army conquered culture after culture, they collected and passed all of these skills from one civilization to the next. The Mongols deliberately opened the world to a new commerce not only in goods, but also in ideas and knowledge.”
8. The Mongols sponsored the most extensive maps ever assembled.
9. Europe was heavily influenced by Mongol rule. ”In nearly every country touched by the Mongols, the initial destruction and shock of conquest by an unknown and barbaric tribe yielded quickly to an unprecedented rise in cultural communication, expanded trade, and improved civilization. In Europe, the Mongols slaughtered the aristocratic knighthood of the continent, but, disappointed with the general poverty of the area compared with the Chinese and Muslim countries, turned away and did not bother to conquer the cities, loot the countries or incorporate them into the expanding empire. In the end, Europe suffered the least yet acquired all the advantages of contact through merchants such as the Polo family of Venice and envoys exchanged between the Mongol khans and the popes and kings of Europe. Seemingly every aspect of European life—technology, warfare, clothing, commerce, food, art, literature, and music—changed during the Renaissance as a result of the Mongol influence. In addition to new forms of fighting, new machines, and new foods, even the most mundane aspects of daily life changed as the Europeans switched to Mongol fabrics, wearing pants and jackets instead of tunics and robes.”
10. The word ”hurray” is derived from the Mongols. It was a Mongol exclamation for bravado and mutual encouragement.
There is much more to be written but Ill limit myself to these 10 fascinating points. Read the book for more!

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