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Suraj Amin

Mrs. King

ATP History

30 May 2010

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World review

Historical Background

Genghis Khan lived in a time of overall turmoil. His fellow Mongols always fought amongst each other

for wealth and wives, and the so-called “civilized” people of Europe and China were no better off.

Europe was simply a collection of scattered kingdoms in the middle of the Dark Ages, only a few

decades after the Great Crusades launched by Christians in a bid to take over Jerusalem from the

Muslims. The people of the Orient to the east had yet to see the Chinese united under one banner and

one emperor. It was in this sort of time period the the Mongol Empire perfected itself. Through the

usage of innovative techniques and strategies, Genghis Khan and his army of scarcely one million

Mongols ended the age of the castles and knights. The East and West were almost unknown to each

other with the exception of the fabled Silk Road. The Mongol Empire blended more cultures across the

globe than anybody before, or since, making them the world's first cultural and technological mixing

pot. Before the Mongols, society ran based on a system of aristocratic hierarchies. Those who were

born above the rest were kept and given privileges above the rest. That changed under Genghis, who

only appointed officials based on their merits on and off the battlefield, not just their lineage.

Book Summary

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World is a book that talks about the non-fiction aspect of

him and his descendants. At first the book starts off with an introduction to the book which highlights

the difficulties in obtaining information about Mongolia during that time period, with roughly 80% of

their research coming from just one book written a couple of decades after Genghis Khan's death in

1227. The beginning of the actual book involves Genghis's parents, and the situation regarding his
birth, which then changed focus to Genghis himself as he got older in the book. It shows his struggle

as a young man to get the recognition from others needed to become a chieftain and get into a position

of power. Throughout the whole book the Life of Genghis Khan is shown, not always as a conqueror,

but as a human being too,oftentimes. The book also places an emphasis on the technology and logistics

used in warfare against his various enemies. Besides warfare, however, there are many things that had

never been before seen the the West. Such things that allowed the Europeans to walk out of the middle

ages were technologies like gunpowder, paper money, and various trade routes that allowed sustained

contact with the East. But besides even that, there were things more important than material goods that

Genghis introduced to the West. They were the social-economic things that Genghis did. He destroyed

the social hierarchy that was previously ruled by birth and instead installed a meritocracy in which as

people were equal and only their actions separated one from the other. Instead of religious oppression

and torture, he abolished torture and granted universal religious freedom to worship whoever a person

wishes. As the story of the book progresses you see Genghis Khan take over twice as much land as any

other man in history and maintain that land for hundreds of years, in some cases. About halfway

through the book, Genghis Khan died, unfortunately, and the empire divides itself up amongst his sons

and later his grandsons. From that point on, things had gone downhill, but regardless, some instances of

the empire remained up until the 19th and 20th centuries. The main theme of this book is to simply

reinvent the image of Genghis Khan as a proud and wise statesman instead of just a savage barbarian as

we all know him today thanks to the media popularizing it.

Discussion Questions

1. I would not have liked to live in this time period because of the chaotic theme of things in the time

period. Anybody who is not Christian would have been persecuted before Genghis' arrival, and since I

am not christian, I would have been persecuted.