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The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia Paperback – January 1, 1970


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The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia + Palgrave Concise Historical Atlas of Central Asia + Central Asia in World History (The New Oxford World History)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 718 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press (January 1, 1970)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813513049
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813513041
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #501,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

A void exists in most world History texts.
Robert Guttman
A historical atlas, or several of them, would be of great assistance while you read, while this book would benefit immensely from many, many more maps.
doomsdayer520
Groussets book seems well researched and has no major flaws, that I have found.
Bent Anker Nielsen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey L. Guthery on January 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
I first read this book twelve years ago and have been fascinated with the history of the Central Asian steppes ever since. Rene Grousset was one of those rare writers who could infect the reader with the same enthusiasm and interest that he himself possessed. Naomi Walford did a fantastic job translating from the original French text and retaining the spirit of the work. The 600+ pages cover in chronological order the history of steppe tribes from the Scythians to the Dzungar realm in the late 18th century. Throughout the work Grousset conveys to the reader a detailed picture of the various Turkic, Mongol, and Manchu tribes (and to a lesser extent Indo-Eurpoean tribes), and how political and military control of the steppe regions shifted between these tribes over the centuries. There is also a great deal of coverage on the more well-known known conquerors (Genghis and Kublai Khan, Tamerlane) and their empires. The book contains a great number of quotes from passages recorded by many civilizations throughout history which had come in contact with these Central Asian peoples, and these coupled with Grousset's writing style portray the events and personalities of that distant age in a more intimate light. The fact that Indo-Europeans had co-existed in close proximity to Turkic-Mongol tribes and Chinese peoples long before recorded history was a fascinating revelation to me. In addition to documenting the geographic parameters of the more significant empires and their direct contact with cultures from Poland to Iraq to India to Japan, Grousset also shows how events in Central Asia have indirectly affected distant regions by causing a chain of population displacements that resulted in military conquests far away from Central Asia.Read more ›
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on February 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
A work of historical research is certainly a well-respected classic when it is used as a primary reference in just about every subsequent book on the subject. Rene Grousset's history is truly monumental, covering the vast steppe region from Korea to Hungary, and over the course of around 1500 years, and incorporates several different realms of knowledge that each would require a lifetime of work by most historians. Of course this book offers in-depth coverage of the famous conquerors of the era, such as Attila and Tamerlane, and obviously Jenghiz (Genghis) Khan and his many descendents, but there is also rewarding coverage of many more intriguing (if often bloodthirsty and genocidal) leaders and a great many enigmatic ethnic groups. Note that this book is an especially difficult read, as Grousset's prose often operates in the form of lists, crushed by voluminous references to obscure tribes and individuals, not to mention a continuous parade of geographic locations under names that usually are no longer current. A historical atlas, or several of them, would be of great assistance while you read, while this book would benefit immensely from many, many more maps. Meanwhile, the sheer vastness of the regions and periods covered by Grousset made it structurally impossible for him to cover his subjects in chronological order.

You often despair that it would help to have multiple PhD's in ancient history in order to be able to truly understand this immense tome. But in the end, all of the imposing detail remains truly fascinating, and Grousset offers much food for thought in his underlying themes of human geography.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Kung Kuo Chuan on September 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
Of the 50+ books I have read on Central Asia, this book is by far the most insightful. This is more than a history of Central Asia -- it is a whole treatise on the impact of the nomads on the sedentary peoples. The book also places a heavy emphasis on the origins of various peoples (Turks, Mongols, etc.) and their relationships. The displacement of the Indo-Europeans by the Turks in Central Asia (from western China to present-day Uzbekistan) also makes for facsinating reading. There is also detailed discussions about Genghis Khan and the Mongols -- frankly much better than most other books I've read that deal with only that topic.
On the negative side, the book focuses too much on Genghis Khan and generally has a pro-Mongol bias. Some of the maps are also quite unhelpful and do not correspond to the text too well.
Nonetheless, this old book is still the best around after all these years.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is truly a "work of historical art". It provides comprehensive text concerning many different groups residing in Central Asia, not only the Mongols. This book is a masterpiece and is a must-read for any history enthusiast. If you are looking for a book that tells you everything about Central Asian/Inner Asian/Mongol History, then you will strike oil with this one. It is the best thing close to an encyclopedia on Central Asian history and it has been a wonderful addition to my home library.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 31, 1998
Format: Paperback
A friend introduced this book to me. His opinion is you can't understand European history without understanding the history of the steppes. My opinion is that you can't understand the history of China without understanding the Steppes. This book covers both sides admiringly well despite its date (1939). From the time of dim prehistory to the last struggle of the once-great descendants of the Ghengis Khanate, Grousset described the greatest and mostly unknown saga of the peoples of the steppe. We find out the history of the Indo-European cultures in central Asia (Yes, this was decades before the discovery of the blonde mummies in China and Grousset could have predicted their discovery decades ago). We find out about the Kara-Kitai, the greatest enemy the Muslims of Asia ever faced (NOt the Crusaders). We were there when the Dzungars, last heir of Ghengis Khan was caught between the expanding Russian empire and the rising Manchu empire. Buy it, read it and world history will never be the same again.
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