Reading Mongolia: The Secret Life of the Mongol Queens

Once I started reading about Mongolia, I just couldn’t stop. BUT I HAVE TO, since I’ve got 140+ countries left to go on this journey. So, I’m wrapping it up with one more book by Jack Weatherford.

Since I enjoyed the book about Genghis Khan so much I was really excited about this one, especially since I’m all about my sisters throwing it down. But I was a bit disappointed: fascinating history about powerful women, but as it moved away from Genghis and his wives and daughters, I lost interest.

It was hard to keep the thread after the Mongol empire started to really disintegrate; the political and social reality of fraying societies is generally all about constant churn and lots of violence, and to be honest that’s depressing to me. Also, there are just brief glimpses of individuals; that’s understandable, since most cultures have never been that interested in keeping detailed records of women’s lives and contributions, but it was still unsatisfying. It made the book feel strung together, and a bit thin.

Overall verdict: okay but not great, which is a shame.

Mongol women at Naadam_festival
Mongol women at Naadam_festival (image by, via Wikimedia Commons)

Reading Mongolia: Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

Like I warned you a few days ago, I went on a reading binge with Mongolia. And my third book, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, by Jack Weatherford, was a complete winner.

Excuse me for shouting, but I LEARNED SO MUCH. I loved it. You know I won’t tell you much of anything in terms of details, but this book has my most enthusiastic support. You should totally check it out!

I was reading it on a business trip, and a woman sitting next to me on the plane kept looking at the cover, and finally had to ask me all about it. Genghis Khan has a lot of charisma, even after 800 years.

And here’s me, making a stretched personal connection to all of this…my dad owned his own business. When it came time to think about retiring, he had a very serious talk to me about his kids NOT inheriting the company. He had watched quite a few unsuccessful generational transitions in his own industry, and he was a big reader of history. I remember him saying “it doesn’t often work, even for Genghis Khan” and you know what…he was right. He sold the company to the employees, and it was the right thing. I’m not sure if he had read this book, but I have the feeling he did…

Portrait of Genghis Khan
Portrait of Genghis Khan
(image in the Public Domain, via the National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan)