10/06/2009 Making of the Modern World
The Mongol army led by Genghis Khan subjugated more lands and people in twenty-five years than the Romans did in four hundred. Jack Weatherford is the author of Genghis Khan, and the making of the modern world did not want to write a autobiography of Khan or a book about the Mongols. He rather wanted to describe and analyse the impact of the Mongols on the world.
Many reviews and articles have been written since the book was published in 2004 and even Wikipedia consists of an article on the book.
I just want to point out some paragraphs that stroke me while reading the book.
– Genghis Khan together with his sons and grandsons, conquered the most densely populated civilizations of the thirteenth century. (..) The majority of the people today live in countries conquered by the Mongols; on the modern map Genghis Kahn’s conquests include thirty countries with well over 3 billion people. The most astonishing aspect of this achievement is that the entire Mongol tribe under him numbered around a million, smaller than a workforce of some modern corporations. From this million he recruited his army which was comprised of no more than one hundred thousand warriors – a group that could comfortable fit into a larger sports stadium. (..) As Genghis Kahn’s cavalry charged across the thirteenth century, he redrew boundaries of the world. His architecture was not in stone but in nations. (xviii)
– Genghis Khan’s empire connected and amalgamated the many civilizations around him into a new world order. (..) He smashed the feudal system of aristocratic privilege and birth, he built a new and unique system based on individual merit, loyalty and achievement. He took the disjointed and languorous trading towns along the Silk Route and organized them into history’s largest free-trade zone. he lowered taxes for everyone and abolished them altogether for doctors, teachers, priests and educational institutions. he established a regular census and created the first international postal system. His was not an empire that hoarded wealth and treasure; insisted he widely distributed the goods acquired in combat so that they could make their way back into commercial circulation. He created a international law and recognized the ultimate supreme law of the Eternal Blue Sky over all people. At a time when most rulers consider themselves to be above the law, Genghis Kahn insisted on laws holding rulers as equally accountable as the lowest herder. (xix)
The next episode will tell about warring queens, the origin of the word assassin, paper money and other inventions. To be continued…