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Secret History of the Mongols: The Origin of Chingis Khan Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0887272998 ISBN-10: 0887272991 Edition: Expanded

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Secret History of the Mongols: The Origin of Chingis Khan + The Mongols + The Travels of Marco Polo
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Cheng & Tsui; Expanded edition (September 28, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887272991
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887272998
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #249,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

This adaptation of what is recognized today as the oldest Mongolian text (written two decades after Chingis Khan's death) tells the Mongols' own version of the origin of their nation, the life of Chingis Khan, and the creation of an empire that stretched across Eurasia in the Thirteenth century. Kahn has adapted the scholarly English of Francis Woodman Cleaves' erudite translation in colloquial English, making this exciting narrative accessible to all readers. It is written "as an act of research and imagination," an example of story-telling as history which offers not only an accurate and dramatic description of Mongolian culture and heritage, but wisdom and insight into the humanity of this small group that ruled much of Asia, Russia, and the Middle East for nearly two hundred years.

Although it opens in a mythical past, The Secret History of the Mongols quickly becomes a treasure-trove of factual information, not only about the life and career of Chingis Khan, but also about the Mongolian people. It describes in fascinating detail the daily life, social structures, and customs of the tribes of Central Asia, and in terms of accuracy and immediacy eclipses the more familiar Travels of Marco Polo. An overview of medieval Asia, maps, lineage charts, a glossary of proper names, and a bibliography are included. This expanded edition includes a Seventeenth century account of Chingis Khan's death and a recent essay by the author.


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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
Get this one if you are new to Mongols and don't want a difficult book.
M. White
I hope this helps you make this difficult decision, and I do highly recommend this version even if it is not the densest or most scholarly of those available.
Ronin
I highly recommend this to those who are looking for primary sources to add to their Asian history collections.
"hdaveno"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By "hdaveno" on February 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
The Secret History is a record of the Mongolian Royal families, which is thought to have been written during the thirteenth century. Paul Kahn has kept the original prose format in his translation, which I feel makes this the only version to own. It begins with the creation myth of the wolf and deer from which the Mongolian people (in legend) are descended from; throught he birth of Temujin, and ending with the ascention to the throne of Ogedai Khan. I highly recommend this to those who are looking for primary sources to add to their Asian history collections.
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41 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Hansaem on April 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
The Secret History of the Mongols is one of the most important primary source for study of Mongol history and Chingis Khan. Also, this book is very impressive poet like Homor's great works. I know Francis Woodman Cleaves has already translated it into English. He is great master of Mongol history, however, his "King James English" is terrible, especially foreigners like me. Paul Khan's work overcomes this big problem. The easy and spoken English let everyone enjoy it. Now, read it, enjoy it, and feel the "World Conqueror"
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Leland Rogers on February 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is one of the least thorough interpretations of The Secret History of the Mongols. Anyone who finds this book of any interest should read the same book translated by Francis Woodman Cleaves or Igor de Rachewiltz, both versions are considerably better.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Ronin on May 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are passionate about Mongolian history and want to read the original story, then do yourself a favor and buy this Kahn version for a fraction of the price compared to others. Some reviewers suggest this cheaper version is somehow lacking, but I couldn't disagree more. If you are engaged in some academic or literary pursuit, then this version falls far short and you are better off with Igor de Rachewiltz's translation followed by Professor Urgunge Onon's as a second choice. Most people reading this review are best served by Kahn's version, and don't think you are missing out because of price. What you will get from Kahn is a highly readable story-like version that doesn't make you stumble everytime you need to pronounce any Mongol word, which makes for a much more pleasant experience.

If we compare the Kahn's translation to the scholarly IdR, the single biggest thing you will notice is the spelling of all things Mongol. Example, IdR spells Genghis Khan as Cinggis Qa'an while Kahn gives an acceptable Chingis Khan. I will offer an example in translational difference that will hopefully give you a sense of what to expect:

Kahn, p160: "He sent Subetei the Brave off to war in the north where he defeated 11 kingdoms and tribes, crossing the Volga and Ural Rivers, finally going to war with Kiev."

IdR, p194 #262: "Further, he sent Sube'etei Ba'atur northwards to campaign as far as the countries and peoples of these 11 tribes: Qanglin, Kibca'ut, Bajigit, Orusut, Majarat, Asut, Sasut, Serkesut, Kesimir, Bolar, and Kerel; and, making him cross the rivers Idil and Jayaq rich in waters, he sent Sube'etei Ba'atur to campaign as far as the city of Kiwa Menkermen.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By So many books....so little time... on August 12, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you want historical fiction, please pick up Conn Iggulden's Conqueror series-- which is outstanding. This is a translation of Chingis Khan's own story. The really cool thing about the book is that it was originally a private work commissioned by the descendants of Chingis Khan. A little rambling, old world, sort of a lengthy poem similar to Beowulf but easier reading. Loved it. It's like a behind the scenes tour of Chingis Kahn's mind and times.
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