Books on Genghis Khan
December 1, 2019 10:00 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a good book on Genghis Khan. More than the good or bad things that the Mongol empire did, I'd like to understand how and why they grew as they did, and the reasons behind the accumulation of power, and their ability to move such great masses of people. I'm already aware of Wrath of the Khans, from Hardcore History, but I'd like to complement that with a proper book. Help?
posted by Cobalt to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Sort of tangential, but you may get a big kick out of reading the Book of the Marvels of the World by Marco Polo (yes that Marco Polo) which you can find easily in recent translation in paperback. Polo spent a number of years in the court and touring around the empire of Kublai Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan. So it gives an interesting and detailed description of the outcome of the building of the empire. The style of the book is more like a travel guide book/world economic fact book than a travelogue, but I found it very readable.
posted by heatherlogan at 10:10 AM on December 1, 2019

Jack Weatherford's Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World is a good popular introduction.
posted by Patadave at 10:18 AM on December 1, 2019 [9 favorites]

Seconding Jack Weatherford, and don't miss The Secret Histories of the Mongol Queens by the same author.
posted by arabelladragon at 11:30 AM on December 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm not sure if this fits your criteria, but I read Genghis: Birth of an Empire, by Conn Igulden recently, and it was fascinating.

It's fiction, but seems well-researched. There's a series of books that follow that first one, telling of his life from birth, so you may get more of his motivations.
posted by hydra77 at 12:12 PM on December 1, 2019

Thirding Jack Weatherford.
posted by something_witty at 1:50 PM on December 1, 2019

I have heard good things of Jack Weatherford's books. I can recommend John Man's book 'The Mongol Empire'. He also wrote a book more focused on Genghis Khan himself, which may be more what you want, but I haven't read that.

However if you're up for a more detailed podcast, Ben Hill's 25+ part 'History of the Mongols' is really listenable - he's a little dry, but witty - and does less revelling in blood and death than the Hardcore History version. He talks a lot about the inter-family feuds and the roles of the powerful women in the family, and gives a lot of context which I really liked.

I wish I knew what had happened to stop Ben Hill creating more podcasts.
posted by finisterre at 3:53 AM on December 2, 2019

Thanks, everyone.
posted by Cobalt at 8:10 PM on December 3, 2019

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