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The History of the Mongol Conquests Paperback – March 1, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0812217667 ISBN-10: 0812217667
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"By far the best modern narrative account of the most extensive land empire in the history of the world. It is the ideal introduction to the field."—David Morgan, author of The Mongols

About the Author

J. J. Saunders was Reader in History at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. He is author of A History of Medieval Islam.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press (March 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812217667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812217667
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Ann Stewart on December 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
How could I have lived for so long without the knowledge that's in this book? It's essential for understanding our (and "their") history. I had no idea of the permanent impact the Mongol infiltration of western Asia & eastern Europe had on the development of societies not only there but in Europe (and probably China, but most of the book is spent in Asia). They were only in control for about 100 years, but they weren't just mean tourists or hit-and-run snipers. And I had no idea that Turks (who, as a people, did a dry run of the Mongol invasion 5 or 600 years earlier) were originally from north of the Gobi desert. I had no idea of the degree of commercial and intellectual communication between China and the west that far back. And if you want to understand the rise of Islam, you must read this book. If you want to understand the nature of Russia, you must read this book. There's so much more. The book seems well researched, and the author seems to let us know when he's hypothesizing. This is a book to buy & keep.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Stage 3 on April 19, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book written by J.J. Saunders was originally published in 1971 and its continued production speaks volumes for the interest in the subject matter that he is writing about. The Mongol conquests were a fascinating period of history, although for the people of the times looking out from their villages as the Mongol warriors charged in on their steppe ponies, terror was probably more apt. Saunders covers a significant amount of time and territory across his pages in a roughly chronological approach. He starts with a very thorough coverage of Chingis Khan (Ghengis Khan as it is often spelt) from his birth, through the ostracism of his family, then on to his bloody climb to power in not just Mongolia but across a lot of the Eurasian land mass. This coverage is excellent with much detail. There are family trees at the start of the book to assist the reader in understanding the linkages. Saunders analyses the military side of the Mongols and also discusses the religious aspect, especially as they change from their paganism to Islam.

His discussion about the Mongols being confused with the legend of the Kingdom of Prester John is an interesting aside. The Crusade era of the West coincided with the time of the Mongol conquests. Travellers brought back confusing tails of what religion the Mongols were and some Christians in the West believed that the Mongols were the lost Christian Kingdom under Prester John. They hoped that the Christian West and the Mongols could squeeze the Muslims that were between their two spheres of influence. While they were encouraged by the Mongolian attacks of the Muslim lands they were disabused of their theory of co-coreligionists when the Mongols proved equally happy to sack Christian lands.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Michael B Bond on February 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is not for the lighthearted reader, but it is a fairly thorough review of the subject, and the author seems to have done rigorous analysis before asserting anything that may not be true. In that sense, you can accept this book with confidence. One annoyance is that the amount of notes is considerable, and they are all at the end of the book instead of the bottom of pages. So you find yourself flipping to the notes to get background information that probably could and should have been included in the text to allow for more fluid reading. It reads a little more slowly than your typical nonfiction book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bob Newman VINE VOICE on May 31, 2009
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The eruption of nomadic warriors across Asia into Europe and the Middle East in the 1200s was only the greatest of many previous waves. Under Genghis Khan (Chingis, Jengiz, etc) and his immediate successors, the Mongols reached Germany and Croatia, Korea, Japan, Java, Burma, and Egypt. They built the greatest contiguous empire the world has ever known. It all collapsed within a century. The Mongols had some military geniuses as leaders in the beginning and were known for religious tolerance once things settled down, but for administration, they had to rely on others---Chinese, Persians, Turks, and even Europeans. The problems of succession did them in, as they have done so many other empires in history.
In this very informative work, Saunders acknowledges that he is trying the impossible. How to summarize and explain the vast panorama of events occuring over half the globe during 150 years or more ? He starts with Turkish precursors to the Mongols, then takes readers through the standard history of the Great Khans, Genghis, Ogedei, Mongke, and Kubilai. The Mongol Empire having broken up into four sections, we then get a history of each of the four, as far as is known---the separate khanates of Persia, Central Asia, Russia, and China. The older, more sophisticated societies of Persia and China soon shook off the Mongol yoke, absorbing their conquerors, while in Central Asia, the regime gave rise to Tamerlane, another bloody conqueror who left towers of heads in his wake. His death brought his sudden empire to a speedy end. Only in Russia, where disunity and confusion reigned, did the Mongol rule last 250 years.
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