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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accessible and Fun History, 25 May 2011
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This review is from: Kublai Khan (Paperback)
Kublai Khan is perhaps one of the most influential men in history, but to many in the West, he is perhaps little more than a name. This is perhaps largely because of the complexity of understanding his story, given that it spans so many places and languages and perhaps because unlike Genghis, Kublai had limited direct interaction with the West. This is what makes John Man's book such a pleasure, he really opens up the history of Kublai Khan to lay readers and historians alike, and provides a very compelling read too.
The works appeal is found in the way that Man is able to avoid the pitfalls of writing a narrative history (namely that done badly it can be very dull) with a discussion of the geography and landscapes that the history covers (something many historians fail to engage with). The work takes us all the way through Kublai's life, with good digressions to provide background detail, with more thematic chapters thrown in toward the end. The book is fairly uncontroversial, though students of Japanese history may dislike the characterisation of Japan in the chapter covering the first Mongol Invasion, though this is balanced out by the view taken in the chapter covering the second invasion.
An interesting feature of Man's work is that he cross references his history with his own travels in China and his discussions with people he has met or are involved in certain sites, this may irritate some history purists; however what Man succeeds in doing is perhaps highlighting the efforts of current archaeologists to uncover more history. Certainly you would hope that someone reading the work may help archaeologists with funding for the marine archaeology in Imari Bay.
All in all, this was a really enjoyable read and certainly a good starting point for anyone with a general interest in Kublai Khan.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good popular history., 3 April 2006
This review is from: Kublai Khan (Hardcover)
Man's style is chatty rather than scholarly, digressive rather than discursive, and the book is all the better for it. I hadn't read any of this history before, so I can't comment on accuracy or balance, but it was a very enjoyable and engaging read. You don't ever really feel that you make a connection with the personal Kublai, but that's probably not really possible over these distances of time and culture. What you do get is a sense of the scale and drive of the Mongol empire, and how it shaped subsequent history - Chinese history in particular. Into the historicial narrative, Man also weaves his personal travels to the key sites. It's a nice way of connecting past and present, even if it doesn't illuminate the subject very much.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and easy to read, 19 Oct 2008
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T. R. Alexander (East Anglia, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Kublai Khan (Paperback)
Following on from his best selling book on Genghis Khan, John Man now turns his hand towards the man who consolidated the Mongol Empire and was one of the most powerful people on Earth, Genghis' grandson Kublai Khan. Kublai completed the conquest of China and ruled the largest land empire the world has ever seen. The book follows the life of Kublai from his birth soon after Beijing fell to Genghis, through his rise to power, his reign, his victories, defeats and finally the influence that his life had on the history of China

This book is written in a similar manner to John Man's previous book on Genghis Khan, with a relaxed and sometimes meandering style that makes the book both easy and enjoyable to read. The book seems very well researched with Man often attempting to give as many sides to the story of Kublai's life as he can from a variety of sources. This is definitely a must read for anyone interested in Mongol or Chinese history but it is also good enough to interest any student of history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The life of Kublai Khan, 17 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Kublai Khan (Paperback)
I've finished reading the life of Kublai Khan, who was the grandson of Genghis Khan and the biography was produced by John Man.

Mr Man travelled extensively through China and Mongolia and did the meticulous research of the charismatic Mongolian king and his family and relatives who had influenced him. He was the man who remade and shaped the third largest country. Mr Man's superb analysis and absorbing descriptions convey readers insight of the medieval period of East to West of Asia in line with Marco Polo's journey and his achievements.

The book contains vivid coloured photos of the remaining of the former palace and places where Kublai Khan's family were associated with and where he fought.

I remember the history lessons of Japan that Kublai Khan tried to invade Japan. Mr Man clarifies that Kublai's warriors were not defeated by the wind of heaven, the myth of which inspired the Japanese authority to produce Kamikaze pilots. Kublai's warriors were assailed by a series of unprecedented disasters and the failure was caused by their incompetence to fight through the forested coast.

John Man produced an excellent and thrilling account of one of the most influential kings which sprit still lives on in China and Mongolia. It's a very readable and scholarly history and travel writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kublai Khan In My Home, 2 Feb 2011
By 
Terence C. Chilvers (Suffolk, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Kublai Khan (Paperback)
As an amateur historian I want to know the detail behind the fact. With this well researched and constructed book, Kublai Khan actually sits along side you as you read and tells the story. First rate material.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars if only history books had been like this when I was at school, 28 Aug 2009
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This review is from: Kublai Khan (Paperback)
John Man has a thoroughly engaging style that moves effortlessly between past and present in a way that brings history alive. The book is well researched and erudite but never ever boring.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book!, 6 Dec 2014
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This review is from: Kublai Khan (Hardcover)
Very happy with this book, and the seller (laywood3). Will take a while to get through it, but it is well written, clear and concise - John Man being a very good author, in my humble opinion. Facts are laid out in front of you and you are there in the midst of it all. I love these sort of historical books....brilliant!

Highly recommended.

I do hope this review is sufficient for you....I did write a more in-depth review, but it was not accepted by Amazon - absolutely no idea why not! Anyway, Good Luck with your purchase...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, 30 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Kublai Khan (Kindle Edition)
Very interesting and detailed, thorough understanding of the Khan and many detailed accounts of events that provide scarily horrible but factual knowledge on the man.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars John Man's Kublai Khan = Exquisite, 30 Jun 2011
This review is from: Kublai Khan (Paperback)
I'm waiting for the Kindle Edition, though I've had the paperback for some time now (I really like this book). This was wonderful travel reading when I was abroad in equatorial sunshine which really brought this book to life for me... And I can not recommend this book more highly.

Anyone looking for an honest and informative historical recall on the history of the Mongol Empire/China's Yuan Dynasty should seriously consider this book. John Man's extensive travelling experience and his knack for befriending on-site locals gives him an insight on the subject that is grounded and factual. Where he cannot guarantee facts, he speculates but does so honestly and not without proper reason, evidence and common sense. Man calls upon key individual specialists to help him build a world long gone & leaving few clues. From his archaeology friends on the modern Mongol/Chinese boarder to his own genius architect son. Just like Kublai did, surrounding himself with expertise that helped him build an Empire that would influence civilizations for centuries to come.

So why read about the world's most famous conqueror's grandson? Kublai took his grandfather's conquest (Genghis Khan) - it had so far been the world's largest contiguous empire and Kublai doubled it. Kublai was a pragmatic ruler, so called the greatest CEO of all time and built an empire that in many ways preceded Victorian/Industrial Britain. The Mongol Empire/Yuan Dynasty exploded in industry, trade and culture, full of colour, activity and production. In a lesser way, it also preceded the Italian Renaissance in art and discovery too. The Mongol Empire stretched from Turkey through to Korea at its height, the largest land empire in history today.

Conclusively Man's 'Kublai Khan' draws you in with his slightly informal style, much like a room of friendly historians having a light chat about a heavy subject. The entire spectrum of this history is covered and you could almost imagine the newly born superpower pointing way to the future we live today, highly complex, idiosyncratic and full of character and promise. Man gives Kublai the recognition he deserves, hidden in his warrior grandfather's (Genghis) shadow but responsible for a history rich and productive. Some dare say he was even a good ruler... Read the book and decide for yourself.
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Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan by John Man (Paperback - 1 Mar 2007)
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