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Genghis Khan’s Greatest General: Subotai the Valiant Paperback – March 27, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Richard A. Gabriel, a historian, is Adjunct Professor of Humanities and Ethics at Daniel Webster College. He is the author of forty books, including The Great Battles of Antiquity, The Great Armies of Antiquity, and Great Captains of Antiquity.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press (March 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806137347
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806137346
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #361,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Ronin on June 2, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have to say I really enjoyed this book, but I love reading about Mongolian military campaigns so I am easy to please. There is a very finite amount of information available on Subotai the man, so Gabriel needs to be cut a little slack if he filled the book with a lot of other information.

The author is absolutely correct that not enough attention is paid by military historians regarding the incredibly talented field staff that commanded the forces of Genghis Khan. Perhaps a better book would rather have covered all the main staff figures instead of just Subotai. Arguments can be made of the greatness of Jochi, Mugali, Jebe and others, and whether Subotai was more brilliant is hard to know.

Even though I have read considerable Mongol history, I found some very useful information and really did enjoy reading the book. For example the description on p120 regarding the Battle of Liegnitz, "...The Hungarians had been steppe dwelling horse archers before settling in the Danube basin less than 2 centuries earlier. They were well led and accustomed to the tactics of mobile warfare as practiced by the Mongols. Its an interesting question to investigate: at what distance were the Mongol's neighbors aware of their style and capabilities. Not an easy question to answer.

In the Sajo River campaign section he also adds, "...Bella's army was perhaps 100,000 strong, and outnumbered the Mongols. Comprising numerous contingents of armored knights, the major part of this army of former Magyar nomads was horse archers thoroughly familiar with Mongol tactics."

I think everything I read specifically concerning Subotai I had already read and reread via other sources, but that is not surprising. The book is well illustrated with maps and diagrams and various images of Mongols and their gear. The end of the book includes a good bibliography, though it is far from complete. If you're a Mongol fan, than I highly recommend the book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth A. Root on August 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
An interesting, readable and fairly unique book. There are a number of books discuss the Mongol military history, but Gabriel makes point that although Mongol military history is covered in books on that particular subject, it is neglected in general military history, and one of his purposes in writing this book is the urge a rectification of the omission. I don't know of any other books on the Mongols that focus on one of the generals -- generally biographies are strictly about Chinghis Khan and Kublai Khan. This is a great pity: even a book of short biographies of other personalities could add enormously to one's understanding of the period. Gabriel here sticks pretty closely to Subotai's military career, except in discussing the beginning and end of his life. Personally, if there is more information, I wish it was included, because the biographies of characters who are poorly documented or less important can be the vehicle for a general exploration of a typical life of that class and era. That of course is a personal opinion, and I don't fault the book on that account. Recommended to people interested in Asian and military history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Douglas John Johnson on January 26, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In my opinion Richard Gabriel is a master at making historical treatise easy AND enjoyable reading. His depth of research clearly shows through. I look forward to reading any and all of his works.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Augustine M. Pale Sr. on June 30, 2007
Format: Paperback
As a book about Mongol tactics and campaigns it was quite good, as a book about Subotai Bagatur it fell a bit short of my expectations. I have read a few books about Genghis Khan and this one doesn't deviate to far from what I have learned and I give the author some points for the graphs and such detailing mongol tactics, but Gabriel leaves quite a few factual points unattended. At some points he explains events very thoroughly and at other points he gives you educated guesses, which for me was a bit of a downer.

He does deserve credit for trying to undertake a project such as a biography of Subotai, but I am forced to wonder if he just used the title to grab attention, because the main points are not even about Subotai. This book would be much smaller if it were just left to Subotai because there is so much filler that is unrelated, yet still interesting, to the title of the book.

You might be better off picking a different book unless you really want to know what little there is to know about Subotai.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. White on May 21, 2013
Format: Paperback
I will start this review with something positive:

The author is a professor who has taught military courses, and he has many interesting observations of how the Mongol strategic doctrine compares to modern strategic doctrine. The way he describes the Soviet campaign in WW2 as a successful expression of the same is very persuasive.

But the rest of this book is material you should get elsewhere--just take a look at its impressive secondary-source bibliography.

There are actually many primary Mongol sources, but this author decided to rely entirely on the rather brief Secret History of the Mongols. About this book, he said that he found "no serious contradictions" between the Kahn and Cleaves editions. Having read both myself, I must say I find this assessment rather mind-blowing.

If the author had read more sources, he would know that the events he described as having happened in 1219 in Transoxiana (Central Asia) happened in 1221 in Khorasan (Afghanistan). He assumed that the first campaign described in the Secret History happened first. To try to fit his information to 1219, he actually depicts Chingis Khan traveling around the Aral Sea to approach Samarkand. This makes no sense and agrees with no other account I've ever seen.

Here's another example: The Sultan Mohammed Kwarezm-shah he consistently calls "the Shah" or "Mohammed Shah," and not once by his actual titles "Sultan" or "Kwarezm-shah." So it seems he guesses that 20th-century usages have always been correct and have never changed (I know he's not the only person who does this).

Here's another: this author called Yehlu Chutsai a "Chinese chronicler" instead of "Mongol official.
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