The Scythians, Huns, and Mongols--some of history's fiercest fighters--get their due in this creative book by Erik Hildinger. Nobody has previously attempted to capture the military history of the various nomads who mounted their horses and wreaked constant havoc on both Asia and Europe for more than two millennia. Their remarkable archery skill and sturdy horses combined again and again to create an almost unstoppable force that well-organized but sedentary armies could not overcome. Only their inability to create political institutions in the wake of conquests prevented these people of the steppes from building empires. Finally, the advent of firearms made their highly successful methods of attack obsolete. Their legacy, however, is well rendered on the pages of Warriors of the Steppe.
Hildinger covers the mounted warriors of Central Asia and their impact on their neighbors during the period stretching from the encounters of the classical Greeks with the Scythians and Sarmatians to the era when seminomadic Manchurians became the last imperial dynasty of China, the Manchus. The most successful of these warriors were the Mongols, thanks largely to Genghis Khan, but at least a dozen other peoples made significant impacts on history. Hildinger summarizes what is known about the origins, travels, achievements, and influences of each of these warrior folk and adds useful material on horse archery, horse breeding, and the cavalry tactics of both the steppe riders and their usually unsuccessful opponents. Some general knowledge of world history will help readers put each nomadic incursion Hildinger treats in its proper context, and at the end, serious military history students will know considerably more about several centuries of warriors whose impact is usually underrated. Roland Green