Monday, July 16, 2012

Tim Reviews: Gengis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

I've been reading Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford.

It is a good book and I recommend it.

Some interesting things that I have learned from it are:

1.  Mongols made their camps about a half hours walk from their water sources, so that they would not pollute it and so they could avoid the bugs and flash floods.

2. When a band of Mongols feared attack from another band they would often just jump on their horses and run away.  They would leave their wives and other things because if they stayed and fought they could get killed or injured, but if they ran away they could always get another wife or tent (ger) or whatever.

3. One of their secrets to success was to approach a city and ask for its surrender.  If the city surrendered then that city was treated well and absorbed into the Mongol empire.  But if the city refused to surrender, then that city and its citizens were destroyed.

4.  Another secret of their success was that they were always on the lookout for people with skills.  The Mongols knew only horses, hunting, and archery so anyone with another skill was sent to what is now Mongolia to work at their trade.

5. A tactic for defeating an opponent was to show themselves but then to retreat.  Their enemies would pursue the Mongols thinking that they had been defeated and ready to be destroyed.  When the enemy was tired from pursuing, the Mongols would wipe their enemies out.

6. I think that the most important reason for the Mongols success was that their goal of fighting was winning and looting their enemies.  They weren't trying to prove their prowess in battle or to demonstrate their bravery.  If they won through fighting, which they avoided when they could, or they won through trickery all was good so long as they won.

It has been a while since I read a book that is as enthralling as this one; it is very good.

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