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In Search of Genghis Khan Hardcover – April, 1992

8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Riding alongside hardbitten Mongol herdsmen, Severin retraced part of the overland communication system that once linked the far-flung Mongolian empire. In a marvelous adventure that combines travel writing at its serendipitous best with dollops of history and politics, the noted explorer who has recreated crusaders' treks stares into the immense blue vault of Tengri, the Sky God who gave Genghis Khan a mandate to subjugate the world. Severin ( Tracking Marco Polo ) mingled with camel herders in the Gobi desert, weathered an August blizzard, met an old clairvoyant Tuva shamaness, supped with Kazakhs in their yurt (circular tent) and witnessed an outbreak of plague, which he claims is the same disease as the Black Death of medieval Europe. He probes the Mongols' nostalgia for national hero Genghis Khan and monitors the winds of change in a Stalinist-style country undergoing a perestroika liberalization and renaissance of lamaist religion amid a sudden withdrawal of Soviet aid. An enchanting odyssey.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Few places remain as obscure to Americans as Mongolia, that vast expanse of buffer between the former Soviet Union and China. The author, a prolific British travel writer, went there to accompany Mongolian horsemen on a ride across the country (and eventually planned to go all the way to France) to celebrate the memory of Genghis Khan. The frustrations of the mechanics of the journey quickly become tedious to the reader, but Severin's descriptions of the country today, his visit to the Kazakh minority area, an encounter with a Tuva shamaness, his account of the plague (pestes), which continues to be a problem, all make for a vivid picture of the region. Books in Print lists only five books on Mongolia in the last three years, and this one should have the broadest appeal.
-Harold M. Otness, Southern Oregon State Coll. Lib., Ashland
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 241 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum; 1st American ed edition (April 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689121342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689121340
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,720,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on January 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
In this book Tim Severin is not really searching for Genghis Khan himself, as the title states, but for traces of the lifestyle and traditions in the modern world that have been inspired by the great leader. Severin traveled throughout the vast and sparse nation of Mongolia, mostly by horse and in the company of herdsmen who still lived the semi-nomadic lifestyle that had endured for centuries. Severin includes fascinating descriptions of the harsh Mongolian landscapes and good character sketches of his companions. An added bonus is coverage of the semi-autonomous Kazakh people of the western part of the country, along with interesting ruminations on the death throes of Communism that were developing at the time. Interspersed with the travelogue are an engaging history of the Mongolian people and a compendium of knowledge of Genghis Khan and his conquering exploits. On the bad side, Severin is not a very strong writer (or needs a better editor), and he is often unnecessarily judgmental. This is evident in cruel conclusions about a member of the expedition named Ariunbold, a bureaucrat whose poor leadership deserved criticism, but Severin gets personal. The final chapter should probably be ignored as Severin passes judgment on the character and intelligence of the Mongolian people and the effects of their vast history, giving rather condescending pontifications of another people's culture and history. Fortunately, interesting tales of the Mongolian people and their intriguing landscape and history keep this book mostly enjoyable. [~doomsdayer520~]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Matt Hill VINE VOICE on November 6, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tim Severin was invited to join a ride that would replicate the Mongol version of the Pony Express; two thirds of this book is about the ups and downs of that journey across the steppes of Mongolia. Severin talks about the recent and ancient history of the Mongols; visits a resurrected lamasery put together by monks that had been in hiding for over four decades; rides through the Hangay, the most scenic area of Mongolia; meets with Kazakh eagle hunters; visits an ancient shamaness; and goes on a shakedown horseback pilgrimage to Burkhan Khaldun, the holy mountain and birthplace of Genghis Khan.

On the downside of this narrative is Tim Severin's continual frustrations with the leader of this cross-country ride that ostensibly is being done to celebrate the glory of the 800th birthday of the Great Khan. His carping about the incompetencies of this guy, as valid as they may have been, end up being a real drag on the story of the adventure. The reading starts to get wearisome at the half way point, with the particulars and extraneous frictions between the personalities feeling like the author is dumping on the wondering reader. But, stick with it - the narrative picks up the last third of the book and Severin redeems himself.

Tim Severin's writing is definitely not of the caliber and gripping narration of "The Brendan Voyage" (see review). Yet, it still is a great story and presents much in the way of entertaining details. You may wish to read this book in conjunction with Jack Weatherford's book on Genghis Khan (see review).

The Cloud Reckoner

Extracts: A Field Guide for Iconoclasts
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By Amazon Customer on June 19, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Learning of the Mongolian people was incredibly interesting, thought-provoking, and astounding. Severin writes very well of his experiences among these people and included many interesting tidbits regarding their history, culture, love of horses, landscape and psychology. An easy book to read, hard to put down, and now among my favorites.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book is interesting for its depiction of Mongolia - historical roots and changes that started at beginning of the '90s. However I have found this book much less interesting than The Sindbad Voyage and The Brendan Voyage, which are really extraordinary books.
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