I grew up in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. For me, World History was Euro-centric. I picked up this book to fill a few enormous holes in my understanding of global history. The book delivered much more than I ever expected to learn.
Genghis Khan was much more than a Mongol conqueror from centuries gone by. In the hands of scholar and traveler Jack Weatherford, he was a flesh and blood human being from incredibly humble origins who, through determination, grit, and intelligence, united the separate tribes of the northern Asian Steppes to create an Empire the likes of which the world had never seen.
Every part of this book was a surprise to me. The intelligence of Genghis was astounding. His ideas for an ideal were some of the most impressive I’ve ever come across. He wanted the ordinary people to have a chance to succeed. Unlike many leaders today who give lip service to that idea, Genghis Khan instituted policies to ensure it.
Weatherford goes on to talk about how his Empire continued to grow but then disintegrated under the leadership of his descendants. For a little over a hundred years after his death, they ruled most of modern China, Russia, the Middle East, Mongolia, and Siberia. But, unfortunately, their impressive accomplishments were checkered with dismal failures and poor decisions.
But I was astounded by the changes the Mongols brought about. They introduced innovations that really did change the world forever, and mostly for the better. Some of their ideas, still largely untried, would make for a fair and more equitable world. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World is one of the best history books I have ever read. I recommend it to everyone interested in the history of politics and military exploits.