While digging around in the old files on my computer, I found this half-completed review, patiently waiting for me to complete it. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I have edited it and finished it.
There are a couple of things I look for in a book. One of them is an amazing title. This book certainly fits the bill. It may be a bit of a mouthful, but it is an accurate description of the book. The Rise and Fall of the Second Largest Empire in History covers Genghis Khan’s rise to power and the rapid take-over of one-sixth of the world that followed.
One of my favourite subjects is history, and the Mongols are the most interesting nation of them all. They were a rag-tag group of horse riding clans, until they were united by Genghis Khan. The book reads more like a novel than a typical history book, I read it from cover to cover instead of skipping through it, like you usually would with an encyclopaedia.
The Mongols are the oddballs of history, as is so nicely explained in Crash Course World History. Their empire stretched from China in the east, all the way to Russia in the west. It was surpassed in territory only by the British Empire, who had the advantage of cannons and extreme naval power.
The book covers the entirety of the Mongol empire, from Genghis Khan’s early life to the demise of the Mongols in China. Their nation split apart only generations after it was created, in the historical blink of an eye.
The book contains many maps showing the route of their invasions and travels, and pictures drawn and painted at the time. Rather than cover the oft-told story of the vicious eastern barbarians, this book emphasises the Mongol’s military prowess, their willingness to adapt, and to learn the ways of the people they conquered.
They also valued skill over parentage, Genghis Khan’s own sons had no power over their own hordes until they mastered the art of war. Some of the top Mongol generals were commoners.
Though their reign was short, the Mongols made lasting impacts on the world. By destroying Kiev, they pushed the capital of Russian power to Moscow. They reunited China into one kingdom, which it has remained ever since.