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The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire

af Jack Weatherford

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7021632,734 (3.78)32
A history of the ruling women of the Mongol Empire, this work reveals their struggle to preserve a nation that shaped the world.
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Viser 1-5 af 16 (næste | vis alle)
A fascinating look at the role of women in Genghis Khan's empire and its aftermath. I didn't know much about Mongolian history before reading this book, and while it isn't a comprehensive overview it provides enough context to be really educational as well as entertaining. ( )
1 stem wishanem | May 27, 2021 |
I loved Jack Weatherford’s Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, & I now love this book, too. I thought this would be a rehash of that book, but no. He tells a mesmerizing story of Genghis’s daughters’ successful rule across Asia, then the deterioration of the empire across centuries, & how Queen Manduhai recovered its glory. The author loves his subject & makes it fascinating reading. ( )
1 stem KarenMonsen | Mar 15, 2021 |
. I hadn’t read any Asian history before this book (or anything about Genghis Khan, really) so I came in totally blind, and it took me a while to get into because I had no reference points. But I was glad I did, because, what an inspiration! It read like an outline for some fantasy series yet to be written.

The author had written a previous history of Genghis Khan and I am guessing this book was to serve as a companion to that one rather than an afterthought. Though the author focuses on the roles of women in this one — wives, daughters, daughters-in-law, mothers — among the ruling Mongolians, I felt it gave me a good, basic grasp of Mongolian history, which was something I might not have tackled in a more conventional text. At the end of it, I was eager to read more.

The only thing I can fault the book for was that the maps were inadequate for a newcomer to Asian history like myself. I would have preferred a macro view, that called out into smaller views as the chapters progressed. ( )
  Cobalt-Jade | Dec 30, 2017 |
Rather a popular style and a bit of a New Age attitude, but it does discuss influential women in Mongol history from the time of Geghis Khan down well into the Ming Dynasty, especially the succession intrigues after Genghis's death but also a Queen Manduhai the Wise later whom I did not know, who apparently pulled the Mongols together after their defeat by the Ming. ( )
  antiquary | Aug 31, 2017 |
Weatherford is one of the foremost living scholars on the Mongols and he doesn't disappoint--the book assumes a basic knowledge of Genghis Khan and his descendants but this time the focus is on his daughters, daughter-in-laws, and finally, Queen Manduhai, probably the most powerful woman in Mongolian history (not counting Genghis' mother, Hoelun). Genghis' daughters became the administrators and Queens of neighboring kingdoms while their husbands, Genghis' sons-in-law, were packed off to fight in their father-in-law's wars. Alaqai inherited in this way the Onggud, Al-Altun the Uighur, Checheyigen, the Oirat, and Tolai, the Karluk tribes, each helping build their father's empire. (As most readers will know, he divided his kingdom amongst his four sons-Jochi receiving Russia, Chaghatai Central Asia, Ogodei Western Mongolia, and Tolui, Eastern Mongolia.)

I will assume most readers will read this book to fill in missing bits of the history of the Mongols, but will be pleasantly surprised by the many bits of arcane information about Mongol life included--sexual and political life, the raising of children, selection of mates, warrior skills of the women, burial practices and other religious ceremonies. The Epilogue ("Secrets of History") is a real page turner as Weatherford links Geoffrey Chaucer's unfinished Squire's Tale in his Canterbury Tales with Genghis Khan and Puccini's opera Turandot. The same chapter reminds us that the Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan, who built the beautiful Taj Mahal in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, was a descendent of the Borijin clan through the line of Chaghatai. "As though guided by an ancient Mongol memory, he placed the entrance to the Taj Mahal facing south like every Mongol ger), toward the sun." (p. 272)

As for Manduhai, she is remembered today in Mongolian song and dance, although the story of her life and deeds have been literally torn from official Mongolian histories. "Only grudgingly and piecemeal did the story of the daughters of Genghis Khan and of Queen Manduhai the Wise arise from the dust around me…." (p. 276) A shame that more research hasn't been done on the women of the frontier regions as we know from study of the Liao and Xixia peoples and others that the women of these tribes and clans often held the reins just as tightly as the men (both on and off horseback).

This is a fascinating book that would have merited more stars had it been more tightly edited to avoid repetition and unnecessarily (in my view) long, descriptive passages of what key figures 'may have been thinking'. This nudged the work towards factition when the subject deserves more academic attention, especially by someone as capable as Jack Weatherford, who has deservedly received the highest award for service to the Mongol nation. ( )
  pbjwelch | Jul 25, 2017 |
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A history of the ruling women of the Mongol Empire, this work reveals their struggle to preserve a nation that shaped the world.

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