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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of impressive scholarship and adventure
The empire of Tamerlane stands alongside that of Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan as the greatest conquests by one ruler. Together with Genghis and perhaps Ivan the Terrible, Tamerlane is also one of the great butchers of history before the twentieth century.

However, beyond the rarely staged play by Marlow, Tamer's place in history had been largely...
Published on 24 Sep 2006 by Pirlo

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing in places but irritating in others
I found the book to be compelling when it is being factual - the stories of the battles, for example, had me glued to the page. In fact, I was left hungry for more information of this type.

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...
Published on 13 Nov 2011 by P. Kane


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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of impressive scholarship and adventure, 24 Sep 2006
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The empire of Tamerlane stands alongside that of Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan as the greatest conquests by one ruler. Together with Genghis and perhaps Ivan the Terrible, Tamerlane is also one of the great butchers of history before the twentieth century.

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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing in places but irritating in others, 13 Nov 2011
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P. Kane (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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I found the book to be compelling when it is being factual - the stories of the battles, for example, had me glued to the page. In fact, I was left hungry for more information of this type.

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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great find, 8 Aug 2010
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i had never before heard of Tamerlane before i saw this book, and after reading the synopsis i thought this could be very interesting indeed. as soon as i started reading this i could not put the book down at all, although i didnt like the parts when the author kept coming back to talk about a stage version in England... i could not help thinking how great it must have been to live in Samarkand at the time of Tamerlane and how it must have felt to see him come back to the city time and again in triumph.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars efficient history and biography of a major world force, 25 Aug 2009
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This is a very good book, a highly efficient biography (in so far as this can be achieved) and history of the Emperor Timur/Tamerlane, about whose astonishing conquests in vast swathes of central Asia, India, and the borders of Europe and China too little is generally known. Interspersed with these are Marozzi's impressions of modern cities in present-day Uzbekistan, such Samarkand, Shakrisabh and Bokhara, to give some relief from the history of brutal sieges and massacres, and some sense of Timur's legacy (although, having recently travelled to the country, I can say that these impressions from before 2004 already seem a little dated).
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.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but irritating, 10 Mar 2010
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Valerie David (Asilah, Morocco) - See all my reviews
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An interesting subject but, in my opinion, a very irritating book to read. As mentioned by another reviewer, it keeps shooting off at what seem, at times, totally irrelevant tangents, i.e. Marlowe's "Tamburlaine" up to and including a recent London production, interesting perhaps but one tends to lose the thread of the narrative. The "travel" sections were also disappointing, certainly not on a par with, say, Jason Elliot. All in all, while I certainly learnt quite a lot about Tamerlane, I found the book rather disappointing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tamerlane Sword of Islam Conqueror of the World, 8 Jan 2010
A Kid's Review
Very interesting subject. Narrative tended to go off on tangents on occassion, which detracted from the focus on Temur's life e.g. reference to the Black Prince (from England) and the writer's story of when I was there ... however this is only perspective. A little disappointed overall ... still I did learn a lot about Temur.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Temur makes Genghis Khan look a bit Lib-Dem, 12 Aug 2011
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Temur the Lame made Genghis Khan look a bit Lib-Dem. Countries and regions he ravished, including chunks of Afghanistan still haven't recovered to this day.

His tactics in Afghanistan were very effective, although they did involve building towers of skulls, so are unlikely to be adopted by NATO.

The book casts light into an area and time which I knew little about (apart from reading Marlowe at school). Marozzi, like John Mann, is a historian who likes to tread in his subject's footsteps which gives a real insight and perspective.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent retelling of an amazing story., 6 May 2008
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J. Duducu (Ruislip) - See all my reviews
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When people talk of the greatest generals of all time in the West it invariably boils down to Napoleon or Alexander the great. Some may point towards the like of Genghis Khan, however all pale into comparison to Tamerlane (correct name Temur).
Alexander was undefeated in 8 years, Tamerlane undefeated in 30.

This is a man who went from nothing to creating one of the largest empires the world has ever seen, all in one lifetime. He successfully captured the likes of Delhi and Moscow and even had the Ottoman Sultan locked into a cage after a key battle. Added to this fact is in early adulthood he suffered injuries that led to him not being able to use 1 arm and 1 leg (hence how Temur the lame got mangled to Tamerlane or Tamburlane). Yet he was still a fearsome warlord just further adds to this amazing tale.

Justin Marozzi however does not shy away from the other side of all war mongers- death and destruction, because just like all steppe nomad warlords, unless capitulation was total and immediate then horrific acts of barbarity ensued. Indeed where as Attila was the start of the period of invasion from the steppe nomads, Tamerlane nearly a thousand years later was to be the last however the barbaric treatment of various civilian populations (particularly in Persia) are not forgotten or glossed over.

There is a careful balance between the man and the campaigns, between the Timurid society and the details of war. The use of source materials from all over the world is highly impressive and really brings the man alive, flaws and all. It is first and foremost a cracking read which really sucks you in and the story is so much larger than life that you can't wait for the next ludicrous (but true) turn of events. Any tale that includes armour plated war elephants with flamethrowers on their backs has to be a must read!

If you liked this there's more historical debate and fun at @HistoryGems on Facebook and Twitter
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Story written badly, 20 Aug 2012
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I really enjoyed the story of Tamerlane and have read brief accounts of his life in other books. This book unfortunately was a real let down and very hard to keep interested in. The author spends more time on his travels and the buildings he visited, most of this content has no relation to Tamerlane whatsoever. He also spends a lot of time on Marlowe's play which, as the author himself states, is not a great reflection of the life of Tamerlane. He also places these useless sections at regular intervals which really breaks up the story and makes it very hard to read.

Sadly I feel the author didn't have enough to write about to fill a book but I would have preferred a 200 page really interesting account of Tamerlane's life than the extra waste of words.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on Tamerlane in the English language without a doubt, 16 Aug 2014
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A surprisingly beautiful amalgamation of travelogue & history which pays tribute to a man who has not been given his due worth in western historical literature. Although at some points the personal recollections of the author concerning the modern remnants of Temur's world are every bit as engaging as the history of Tamerlane there are a few points where it drags on a little too much and one cannot help but flick a few pages forward in search of the resumption of Temur's own story.
There is nothing new here, so if you are already familiar with the historiography of the Timurid period you will recognize every single source the author quotes and therefore naturally this is not a work which draws any new conclusions or puts forward any new theories or even hypotheses. It is however narrative history at its best and makes no pretense of being an academic analysis of the various aspects of Temur's life and empire, so I decided to give it a generous five stars.
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