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Genghis Khan [Hardcover]

John Man
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Mar 2004
The creator of the greatest empire the world has ever seen is one of history's immortals. In Central Asia, they still use his name to frighten children. In China, he is honoured as the founder of a dynasty, the Yuan. In Mongolia he is the father of the nation. In the USA, Time magazine in, voted Genghis Khan 'the most important person of the last millennium'. But how much do we really know about this man? How is it that an unlettered, unsophisticated warrior-nomad came to have such a profound effect on world politics that his influence can still be felt some 800 years later? He was born, named Temujin, around the year 1162 on the slopes of the now sacred mountain Burkhan Kaldun in Outer Mongolia. His childhood, viewed through the distorted, mythologizing lens of contemporary oral histories, includes all the usual tribulations of youth as well as a few less common ones - such as killing his brother at the age of thirteen in an argument over a dead bird. The man who emerged was a ruthless, brilliant tactician with a profound grasp of realpolitik, but one eye fixed firmly on his destiny...


Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press; First Edition edition (1 Mar 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0593050444
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593050446
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.8 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 463,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

JOHN MAN

"The Lion's Share", just published on Kindle, is a new edition of a thriller written years ago about the 'real' - in quotes, i.e. fictional - fate of Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia.

Since writing the original, I have focused mainly on non-fiction, exploring interests in Central Asia and turning-points in written communication. I like to mix history, narrative and personal experience, exploring the places I write about. It brings things to life, and it's also probably to do with escaping a secure, rural childhood in Kent. I did German and French at Oxford, and two postgraduate courses, History and Philosophy of Science at Oxford and Mongolian at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London (to join an expedition that never happened).

After working in journalism and publishing, I turned to writing, with occasional forays into film, TV and radio. A planned trilogy on three major revolutions in writing has resulted in two books, "Alpha Beta" (on the alphabet) and "The Gutenberg Revolution" (on printing), both republished in 2009. The third, on the origin of writing, is on hold, because it depends on access to Iraq. (There's a fourth revolution, the Internet, about which many others can write far better than me).

My interest in Mongolia revived in 1996 with a trip to the Gobi. "Gobi: Tracking the Desert" was the first book on the region since those by the American explorer Roy Chapman Andrew in the 1920's. As anyone quickly discovers in Mongolia, everything leads back to Genghis. The result was "Genghis Khan: Life, Death and Resurrection," now in 20 languages, and (from 2011) in a new, revised edition. Luckily, there's more to Mongol studies than Genghis. "Attila the Hun" and "Kublai Khan" followed.

Another main theme in Mongol history is the ancient and modern relationship between Mongolia and China. "The Terracotta Army" was followed by "The Great Wall". "The Leadership Secrets of Genghis Khan" (combining history and modern leadership theory) and "Xanadu: Marco Polo and Europe's Discovery of the East" pretty much exhausted Inner Asian themes for me.

So recently I have become interested in Japan. For "Samurai: The Last Warrior", I followed in the footsteps of Saigo Takamori, the real Last Samurai, published in February 2011. After that, more fiction, perhaps.

I live in north London, inspired by a multi-talented, strong and beautiful family - wife, children and grand-children.

Product Description

Review

A great story. -- The Spectator

A thrilling account of Genghis's life, death and his continuing influence ... -- The Guardian

Enthralling and colourful. -- The Independent on Sunday

Every bit as gripping as its subject deserves. History doesn't get much more enthralling than this. -- York Evening Post

Mas has schlarly gifts, acute intelligence and a winning way with words. A fine introduction, and a rattling good read. -- The Independent

Book Description

The first popular biography of the legendary Mongol emperor and warlord. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 1 Mar 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Very well written history of Genghis Khan, intermingled with the author's travels and discoveries in Mongolia as he seeks to 'find the truth' and location of Genghis' birthplace and death.
Balances out and discusses fact and fiction/legend nicely and provides several interesting insights into the importance of Genghis in current Mongolian, and more interestingly, Chinese culture and folklore.
Only falls short on a few points - fails to continue and fully describe the eventual culmination of Genghis' legacy under his grandson Khublai and the disintegration of the empire in enough detail for my liking (although, granted, this is a book about Genghis as an individual). Also devotes a couple of slow-moving final chapters to his own attempts to find the Genghis burial site, and the spiritual legacy that remains. This tires somewhat at the end.
Overall - very good, contemporary, publication.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for history buffs 4 Sep 2005
Format:Paperback
John Man has succeeded in drawing a very detailed picture of the life and times of a man who, despite his huge importance, has remained a somewhat mysterious historical figure. Clearly a labour of love, the book is dotted with anecdotes of the author's travels in Mongolia and with asides on some of the linguistic peculiarities and associated difficulties in interpreting the source material. By engaging with the reader on this level, John Man lifts his book above being merely a factual account of Mongolian (and indeed far eastern) history, making it a genuinely entertaining read aswell.
That doesn't mean that the story is lacking in detail, quite the opposite. John Man has clearly devoted much of his life to mongolian history and culture, and his scholarly expertise shows through. Much of the book focuses on the author's primary source of information, the quite aptly named 'The Secret History Of The Mongols', which is a sort of Mongolian equivalent of Homer's Iliad. Beyond that, Man investigates the mystery of Genghis' death and the lasting cultural effect his empire has had on eastern Asia and the rest of the world. Keeping in mind the dearth of first-hand source material, the level of detail is truly impressive.
Genghis Khan manages to be fascinating, informative and entertaining all at once. Whether you are looking specifically for a thourough investigation of this great conqueror's life, death and lasting influence, or if you are simply looking to broaden your horizons and be enthused by the subject of world history, this is the book for you.
I believe it may also be the only book you will find containing an authentic recipe for mongolian marmot casserole.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Challenging and rewarding read 31 July 2005
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
John Man's Genghis Khan is a chalenging and rewarding read. It will come as a bit of a jolt to readers used to reading popular biographies of more modern figures. This is a very different experience to reading about, say, Churchill or Kennedy. More modern subjects have a wealth of source material available to the historian, whose task becomes one of selection and condensation. Not so for a 13th century leader whose life was often deliberately shrowded in secrecy. Man's task is not to wade through volumes of material, but to actually find material. And he does a terrific job.
He has pieced together a rivetting account of Genghis Khan's life, from birth to death and beyond. He takes the reader on a journey in search of Genghis, through the steppes and deserts of Central Asia, into Europe, and to China.
One strength of this book is Man's depth of knowledge and experience. He has clearly spent a great deal of his life in Mongolia, has picked up the language and immersed himself in the culture of the Mongols. He still sees himself as an outsider, an indication of his great humility, but he is certainly not typical of many modern writers who adopt a subject only until their book is published. The scope of this book is truly impressive.
A word should also be made about the illustrations. The book has two sections of illustrations, and many seem to be photographs taken by Man himself. They add to the enjoyment and experience of the read, as do the several maps included in the text.
Another great strength of this book is in capturing the present day spirit and influence which Genghis still holds in Mongolia and beyond.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing read 11 July 2004
Format:Hardcover
having just travelled to Mongolia, i found the book an engrossing read. Not only does the author skillfully relate the events of the life of 'the alpha male', but he also places in context present day Mongolia (about which people who have not travelled there know little).
Not only did I get to know a lot about Ghenghis Khan, but was also able to relive my visit to Mongolia.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible! 18 Dec 2010
Format:Paperback
Probably the worst history book I've ever read. Its very, very rare for me to be unable to finish a book, but I just couldn't bring myself to endure any more of it. Whilst the story of Genghis Khan and the Mongols is a fascinating one that needs to be told, the author mixes far too much folklore and personal editorialising in there - the 3rd time he mentioned America and the invasion of Iraq was when I finally lost patience with it. That coupled with his unhesitating acceptance of any local folk tales about the Mongols destroyed any credibility the author had for me.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed to be honest
I was expecting a more lively story of the life and times of Genghis Khan. Instead what I got was rather dull and dry in patches. Read more
Published 5 months ago by BRUCE WAITE
5.0 out of 5 stars Factual
The true story and history of the Mongols. Very informative without being boring. Difficult to put down. A great read!
Published 6 months ago by John Norrish
4.0 out of 5 stars OK
a fascinating book written by John Man - whom I read before with the grandson of Genghis Khan - Y didn't they teach us proper history at school?
Published 12 months ago by Kenneth W. Day
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative
This book is well written and researched. John Man has extensively covered the majority of areas surronding the rise of Genghis' Empire and the mysterious death of the Mongol... Read more
Published 13 months ago by RH223
5.0 out of 5 stars Genghis Khan
Delighted with this book and anyone interested in the subject will be delighted too. Really gives you a flavor of his life and times
Published 13 months ago by malmund
1.0 out of 5 stars no clever analysis
This is a very frustrating book. It doesn't answer any key questions e.g. what prompted the invasions, how did the mongols increase their numbers whilst taking over new... Read more
Published on 12 Jan 2012 by fergus
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting way of dealing with the subject
Man obviously knows his stuff and the book is crammed with interesting details and etymology. The downside is that he can wander away from the practical issues at hand and onto... Read more
Published on 31 May 2011 by Scamander
1.0 out of 5 stars Misleading Title
When I picked up this book, I had expected to read about the history of Genghis Khan. What you get instead is a mix of Genghis Khan's history and a travel book where he spend a... Read more
Published on 6 Dec 2010 by T. Young
4.0 out of 5 stars `Genghis Khan is one of history's immortals.'
By the time of his death in 1227, Genghis Khan ruled an empire that stretched from the Caspian Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Read more
Published on 19 Nov 2010 by Jennifer Cameron-Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing seller
This book arrived in New condition, absolutely amazing price too and very fast delivery, a good read am enjoying this very much
Published on 18 Jun 2010 by Ms. S. Davis
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