Tamerlane Sword of Islam Conqueror of the World
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Top Customer Reviews
This book tells the story of the greatest of the Asian conquerors, Temur, derogatorily nicknamed "Tamerlane" (Temur the Lame, after a wound sustained in youth). Tamerlane was a military genius, a patron of the arts and architecture, a devout follower of Islam (when it suited his purposes) and a conqueror of astounding cruelty and barbarism (when he deemed people needed to be taught a lesson - he was a great believer in pyramids of heads as an educational tool). At his zenith, he ruled an empire that extended from the borders of Europe to those of China. The former was spared conquest because it didn't have enough booty to be worth the trouble, the latter because Tamerlane died en route to there. As the empire revolved around this one man (the Mongol and Tatar conquerors weren't big on establishing permanent institutions), it fell apart after his death, Its final flowering was in the supremely civilised Mughal Empire of India, which was to endure in one form or another until the 19th century.Read more ›
However, beyond the rarely staged play by Marlow, Tamer's place in history had been largely neglected. With the assistance of few source materials, but with the benefit of travelling through central asia to cities such as Herat, Samarkand, Damascus etc, Marozzi has written a compelling account of this extraordinary ruler, which I would recommend to anyone with an interest in history or indeed in contemporary politics. Whilst the savagery of Tamerlane's conquests are well captured, Marozzi also makes an interesting case for the cultural impact of Tamerlane and his beloved capital Samarkand.
The writing style is readable and lively, making effective use of near-contemporary sources like Arab historians or the Spaniard Clavijo. The analysis of both the reasons for Timur's staggering military successes (rewarding his troops well, exploiting the element of surprise and a range of ingenious ruses, as well as instilling utter terror among his enemies),and the other sides to his character (intellectual interests and architectural ambition)make for a balanced assessment.
Plenty to commend it, then, but for me a less impressive book than travel writing on the area,such as by Colin Thubron, which manages to be more evocative of today's Central Asian places and persons, or than histories of neighbouring powers, such as Michael Axworthy's impressive history of Iran. And the battles and massacres, though very vivid at times (the Indian campaign) do sicken the reader. Four stars, not five - good but not great.
But when discussing the legacy of Temur, the text is too verbose, too flowery in its language and several pages too long, for my liking anyway. And the switch between the two types of text is often abrupt, which I found very frustrating.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Doesn't cut to the chase, full of confusing tangents (Henry IV, Marlowe etc). No discernible progression on a journey to find out about Tamerlane. Abandoned after 14%Published 27 days ago by Duxfordred
Hard to say it but Tamerlane is practically omitted from World History. Where is he ever mentioned (except when the West were concerned by his approaching terror)? Read morePublished 2 months ago by Zeeshan Mahmood
Very informative about someone I knew very little of. All the way through though I had a sense that all the leaders and cities that defied him were incredibly irresponsible with... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Mr critical