Genghis Khan And The Making Of The Modern World

When a person hears the name Genghis Khan, the first thing that comes to mind is powerful man with his huge army brought devastation. However, Genghis Khan image is quite different (restored) in the west. The western world is saturated with the media and people of the modern western society are not willing to accept the perspective of the history and are rather adverse in accepting Genghis Khan’s development of the world into the modern world. Therefore, Jack Weatherford’s novel, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, is deep knowledge about transformation brought about by the Mongol Empire. The book is realistic representation of Genghis Khan and his heirs and their historic effects.

The writer Jack Weatherford is an anthropologist and also the former DeWitt Wallace anthropology professor at Macalester College in MinnesotaIn the non-academic world, the author has written several books in an understandable way. He writes his book based on the assessment and combination of his narratives, which is why the Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World was bestseller of the New York Times.

Weatherford writes in his introduction that he did not intend to write book on Genghis Khan and Mongol Empire. Instead he planned to write a book on world economic history. He learned about Mongols accomplishment when he was travelling to Mongolia during his work on Silk Road. Weatherford could not avoid the charisma of Genghis Khan that he learned in Mongolia. Thus, Weatherford started writing Mongol’s impact on the world. He performed thorough research in coordination with a Mongolian team that included an archaeologist, a scholars of shamanism, a political scientist, and a Mongolian armed forces executive officer, offering both a broad perspective and diverse experience.

Weatherford’s main aspect in the introduction is that world began to change or world had already changed from medieval to modern world because of the rise of Mongol empire. Weatherford writes about the emergence of Mongolia, The new technology, information and economic wealth created the Renaissance in which Europe regained some of its previous culture, but more significantly embraced the innovation from the East of publishing, weapons, and abacus. This is without any doubt questionable. Since many would not agree at this statement of Weatherford as most of the illiterate migrant of the Mongol empire would make the Renaissance.

Weatherford also encourages the reader by focusing on the Mongols successes, such as the capture of an empire extending from the Pacific in the east to the Mediterranean in the west, an area about the size of Africa. In fact, he remarks that this milestone was achieved by the Mongols when their empire’s population was perhaps a million men, and of those approximately hundred thousand people were the army. Weatherford also seems to emphasize the importance of such a act by pointing that the entire Mongolian armed forces had far more less troops than the large corporations have. The writer makes excellent use of these analogies to illustrate his arguments.

Weatherford also connects the Mongols with the Renaissance and the rise of modern Europe. Weatherford claims it was the importing from the Mongol Empire of the printing press, blast furnace, compass, gun powder, and Chinese and Persian art styles that sparked the Renaissance. In addition, during much of the Renaissance era, Weatherford writes, 'The common principles of the Mongol Empire-such as paper money, primacy of the state over the church, freedom of religion, diplomatic immunity, and international law-were ideas that gained new importance' (p. 236).

After the demise of Genghis Khan halfway through the book is about his less united sons and grandchildren. Even influential and important women of the family ran the empire for some time during the absence or when the monarch is not assigned. In the second half of the book, the author is writing about the new Mongol empire as in expanding by Genghis Khan’s grandson, Kublai Khan. Everyone believed that Kublai Khan could not conquer the whole China by force or with the help of his grandfather’s military power, but he proved everyone wrong especially his family.

Although he pointed out that most of the negative publicity that even the Mongols get is baseless and is partially the result of their enemies disinformation, partially the result for much later Western revolutionary ideology and partially the result for their own clever use of rhetoric as just an art of war, which was supposed to scare their opponents into compliance without war, he often goes away with this concept. The other is his tendency to make claims about other historical events that are mostly misconceptions of modern literature and, truthfully, sometimes inaccurate. For example, he mentions Bahadur Shah (the last Mughal) as if he was an actual ruler who was defeated by the British and his descendants they executed to 'finally end Mughal rule,' which is a bit vague since the Mughals had collapsed to the Britishers as well as the Marathas and number of other enemies a hundred years earlier and unfortunate Bahadur Shah was just a feckless leader.

It's quite obvious that Weatherford is a brilliant writer, combining anthropological intuition and incredible excitement with a fascinating storyline. It's easy to see why many critics and readers are excited about it. For all the praise of Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, it is quite evident that Weatherford is not a historical writer. Weatherford's standard narrative is reasonably reliable. Weatherford is grappling with information in the specifics, however, which he simply does not fully appreciate. It is important to remember that the book is intended for the general public and therefore some concessions are repeatedly made, usually in the context of assumptions. Although in writing this may be a good approach, it can often be deceptive or simply incorrect. However with a couple of Weatherford's novel, this is the case.

Overall, Weatherford has divided Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World into introduction, then parts of main context and concluding with epilogue, notes, glossary, and bibliography. The book is also written for general public so it is quite easy to understand for the reader. Although some of the content is misleading and inaccurate at this date, I would recommend someone otherwise might not be interested in history. 

16 December 2021
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