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The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire Hardcover – February 16, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 115 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Though the prolific Genghis Khan fathered numerous sons and daughters, historians have dutifully recorded the foibles and follies of his male heirs while virtually ignoring the accomplishments of his female offspring. Weatherford seeks to remedy this glaring omission by providing a fascinating romp through the feminine side of the infamous Khan clan. Surprisingly, old Genghis himself seems to have been impressed enough by the leadership abilities of his womenfolk to want to reward some of them with pieces of his vast empire. At least four of his daughters became queens of their own countries, exercising power over their courts, their armies, and, of course, their families. Important linchpins in the Mongol Empire, these women supplied the balance of power necessary to appease fractious tribes and territories. Unfortunately, soon after Genghis Khan’s death, the female rulers were challenged by their male relatives, and the fragile bonds that held the Mongol Empire together quickly disintegrated. Ironically, it wasn’t until the emergence of a new queen, two centuries later, that the once-mighty Mongol nation was reunited. Let’s hear it for the girls. --Margaret Flanagan

About the Author

JACK WEATHERFORD holds the DeWitt Wallace Chair of Anthropology at Macalester College in Minnesota and an honorary position at Chinggis Khaan University in Mongolia. In 2007 he received the Order of the Polar Star, the highest award for service to the Mongol Nation for writing Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World., He is also the author of Indian Givers, Native Roots, Savages and Civilizations, and The History of Money.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 317 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Publishers; 1st edition (February 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307407152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307407153
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #327,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Deborah V VINE VOICE on February 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Jack Weatherford's Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World was a fascinating look at the man who conquered Asia and commanded an empire unlike any that had gone before. Weatherford continues his analysis in The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire.

When hearing the name of the 13th century conqueror, Genghis Khan, one doesn't normally think of his daughters as the reason his empire continued and expanded. Khan's four sons were basically worthless preferring to drink, fight and engage in other dissolute behavior. Khan's daughters are the ones that saved his legacy. History is unclear on much of their lives and even then number of daughters he had.

Khan, with exquisite strategy, married his daughters off to rulers along the Silk Road. He then sent their husbands off to war leaving the daughter to rule. With their power, they were able to strengthen his empire through education, religion, and trade; making the Silk Road and the surrounding territories a cohesive unit. The daughters were strong warriors and from their female descendants the Mongolian empire flourished.

If you have a liking or passion for Khan and his strategy, the history of the Mongolian Empire or women who changed history, this book will be at the top of your to-be-read pile. I would say I have a "middling" knowledge of Mongolia past and present, and the book could be a little confusing with the wealth of information, strange names and places etc.
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Ordinarily, I would put a reaction to another reviewer in a comment after his/her post. But I think that the point I am making is important enough to have its own post. The information I am putting here was taken from Weatherford's Acknowledgments at the end of the book. When younger, I usually ignored introductions, forewords, prefaces, and acknowledgements. It is a severe mistake to do so. Surprisingly important information is often contained within these sections of the book.
I have to say that my first reaction to the pen and brush drawings was delight. I was impressed with the apparent simplicity, the grace, and the essence and skill of the drawings--so much so, that I have thought about taking them from the book and putting them in simple frames to hang side by side. I have never felt this way before about an illustration.
Afer reading the acknowledgments, I am even more impressed! They are 'name-drawings!' That is, the brushstrokes not only capture the essence of the queen, but her name is also included, coded, into the drawing. Now that is remarkable! And it makes the illustration even more important and impressive. The cover is, to me, appropriate, and well done. Since the book is about the Mongol Queens, it depicts perhaps the greatest/most powerful/effective of them. She has abandoned her headdress and put on a warrior's helmet. She is horseback, as a warrior had to be, and she is in the act of firing her arrow. It says so many important things about her.
I don't want to insult the reviewer who was disappointed in the drawings, but I surely think that these are superb and support the book beautifully. I liked the drawings anyway a lot!) but reading the acknowledgements gave me great appreciation of them.
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After reading Jack Weatherford's "Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World" I went and pre-ordered this book - and I wasn't disappointed.

The author tells a gripping story of lost history and the role the female heirs of Genghis Khan played in his Empire. While the Great Kahn was out conquering the world, his wives and daughters managed his empire, created bureaucracies, public projects and kept trade relationships alive. In a stroke of genius, Genghis Kahn married his daughters to men who ruled strategic points along the famous Silk Road which not only lent him eyes and ears in those important locations, but also established his presence even though he wasn't physically there.

These daughters weren't the timid kind; they were strong, independent women who inherited their father's political cunningness and warrior spirit. However, after Genghis Khan's death these strong women, daughters, sisters and sisters-in-law began a power struggle which lasted for centuries and eventually almost destroyed the Empire their father has built.

The book tells an astonishing tale of a once world wide Empire being torn apart by inept rulers, sibling rivalry and incompetent leaders (something I'm sure most of us can relate to) pitting mothers against sons and brothers against sisters.

The book ends with the astonishing tale of Queen Mandhuhai the Wise who reunited the Mongols while fighting the Chinese Ming dynasty and the Muslim warlords. Her successful campaigns, which she waged even when pregnant, promoted China to erect the Great Wall and preserved peace for her children and the nation.

Jack Weatherford writes in a style which transcends dry facts and dates, he brings the stories to life while drawing lines between events and people.
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