A work of historical research is certainly a well-respected classic when it is used as a primary reference in just about every subsequent book on the subject. Rene Grousset's history is truly monumental, covering the vast steppe region from Korea to Hungary, and over the course of around 1500 years, and incorporates several different realms of knowledge that each would require a lifetime of work by most historians. Of course this book offers in-depth coverage of the famous conquerors of the era, such as Attila and Tamerlane, and obviously Jenghiz (Genghis) Khan and his many descendents, but there is also rewarding coverage of many more intriguing (if often bloodthirsty and genocidal) leaders and a great many enigmatic ethnic groups. Note that this book is an especially difficult read, as Grousset's prose often operates in the form of lists, crushed by voluminous references to obscure tribes and individuals, not to mention a continuous parade of geographic locations under names that usually are no longer current. A historical atlas, or several of them, would be of great assistance while you read, while this book would benefit immensely from many, many more maps. Meanwhile, the sheer vastness of the regions and periods covered by Grousset made it structurally impossible for him to cover his subjects in chronological order.
You often despair that it would help to have multiple PhD's in ancient history in order to be able to truly understand this immense tome. But in the end, all of the imposing detail remains truly fascinating, and Grousset offers much food for thought in his underlying themes of human geography. We ultimately learn about the how the geographical and physical characteristics of the steppe environment ensured the emergence of brutal but glorious nomads, who always had a very complex relationship with the settled cultures they were continually conquering. But eventually, the conquerors became the conquered, as the rewards of sedentary civilization brought a slow end to nomadic conquest. Grousset's work is a classic of both minute historical detail and vast human themes. [~doomsdayer520~]