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21. The Mongol Art of War
22. The Mongol Invasions of Japan
23. The Mongols (Peoples of Asia)
24. The Story of the Mongols Whom
25. Muslims, Mongols and Crusaders
26. Empire's Twilight: Northeast Asia
27. The Powers of Prophecy: The Cedar
28. Prester John: The Mongols and
29. Early Mongol Rule in Thirteenth-Century
30. Muslim Fortresses in the Levant:

21. The Mongol Art of War
by Mr. Timothy May
Hardcover: 232 Pages (2007-05-31)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$17.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1594160465
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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"They razed cities to the ground, burnt woods, pulled down castles, tore up the vine trees, destroyed gardens, and massacred the citizens and husbandmen; if by chance they did spare any who begged their lives, they compelled them, as slaves of the lowest condition, to fight in front of them against their own kindred."--Matthew Paris recounting the devastation of Poland and Hungary in 1240

During the thirteenth century, Mongol armies under Chinggis Khan and his successors established the largest contiguous land empire in history, stretching across Asia and into eastern Europe. Contemporary descriptions of their conquests have led to a popular misconception that the Mongols were an undisciplined horde of terrifying horsemen who swept over opponents by sheer force of numbers. The Mongol army actually used highly trained regiments led by brilliant tacticians, such as Subutai, that carried out planned and practiced maneuvers. It was the strength, quality, and versatility of the Mongol military organization, not unchecked ferocity, that made them the pre-eminent warriors of their time.

In The Mongol Art of War, historian Timothy May overturns myths and misunderstandings that distort our understanding of Mongol warfare, and demonstrates that the armies of Chinggis Khan had more in common with modern ones than with the armies of ancient Rome and those of the medieval kingdoms they confronted. Describing the make-up of the Mongol army from its inception to the demise of the Mongol Empire, the author examines the recruitment, weaponry, and training of the Mongol warrior. He also analyzes the organization, tactics, and strategies the Mongols used, how they adapted to fighting in different conditions and terrain--such as using harsh winter weather to their advantage--and overcame a variety of opponents by steadily changing and adopting new tactics and modes of combat. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book
This is a great book that covers topics not widely known about. Specifically, the author discusses Temujin's rise to power, the changes instituted by him, and how the Mongols had to adapt to their enemies tactics.Additionally, he gives detailed comparisons of the Mongols armies to their enemies.A bit more detail about the the Mongol's campaign invasion of Viet Nam, and the attempted invasion of Japan would have been nice.Also, more information about Subetai and Jebe ( Temujin's top generals ) would have been nice as well.Overall it is a great book that doesn't glamorize the Mongols nor does it demonize them.

3-0 out of 5 stars Little Typos Here and There
I only skimmed through this book at the bookstore...seems a fairly standard chronicle of rather common knowledge to my fifteen minutes' impression...what struck me immediately was how little typos were littered here and there, starting from the back dust jacket, and even in the very first few introductory paragraphs!Silly things like confusing "you're" with "your," "there" with "their"...that kind of stuff.I'm sure the book is an otherwise fine introduction to the subject, but it's really weird how even a purportedly scholarly work can be subject to linguistic carelessness these days, in the age of internet culture....

5-0 out of 5 stars Detailed Descriptions of Mongol Tactics and Practices
This is a great title written at a very lively pace. Anyone interested in military or world history will appreciate all the details and lesser-known facts, as well as the more traditional narrative passages and descriptions of individual Mongol leaders like Hulegu Khan and Subudai. The description of the infamous sacking of Baghdad in the 1250s is also very well done.

There is a lot to like about The Mongol Art of War. It is written, for the most part, from the ground up and gives great detail as to what individual Mongol soldiers carried with them, the weapons they used, the mounts they traveled on, and their daily tasks. The text is never dry or dull and the pace keeps the reader interested throughout. Great book.

4-0 out of 5 stars First in war, for a while
It is a long stretch to link up the Mongol military apparatus of the 13th century with General Heinz Guderian's blitzkrieg tactics of 1941, but young historian Timothy May makes it-- although it might have been more cogent to have drawn the line from Genghis Khan to the combined arms tactics used by the Red Army (and, less impressively by the Americans and British) to defeat the Germans.

The book's publishers seem to have aimed it at readers who have never learned anything about the Mongols. From the dust jacket: "Contemporary descriptions of their conquests have led to a popular misconception that the Mongols were an undisciplined horde of terrifying horsemen who swept over opponents by sheer force of number." In other words, a furor Mongoliensis to match the furor Teutonicus that overwhelmed the western Romans.

Modern scholars have held no such misconceptions. The discipline and flexibility of stratagem of the Mongols was well understood long before young May began his dissertation at Madison. But by mastering several of the many languages that records of the Mongols have come down in, May has usefully expanded and refined our view.

Genghis (or as May irritatingly spells it Chinggis) was not an innovator but an organizer. He inherited steppe warfare methods, taking advantage of hardy ponies and powerful bows to range far and quickly against opponents who were, usually, slower footed. But Genghis usually (not always) beat other steppe formations.

May emphasizes the discipline Genghis imposed -- ruthlessly -- which allowed him to divide his forces and send out generals who were given specific strategic objectives (like, conquer Baghdad) but left alone to figure out how to do it.

With any other medieval army, an independent general would soon set up as an independent political force, but this did not happen as long as Genghis lived. Later, what on paper should have been an admirably democratic and flexible method of choosing successors failed completely. The empire was left in the hands of women regents and soon split up, like Alexander's and many another.

Genghis not only tamed his warrior aristocrats, he allowed for commoners to rise;and he provided a regular organization (by tens, a borrowed idea) and intense and uniform training.

This allowed him to divide his forces, which May uncritically admires, for "keeping his enemies off balance."

There is not a word about the universal maxim of concentration of forces. Genghis' method could work, so long as he had a clear advantage in mobility, which he always did, and better intelligence so that he could concentrate his forces at need, which he did not always have.

Isolated Mongol armies were sometimes defeated in detail, notably by the Mamelukes, who May considers the only warriors of the age who were individually better fighters than the Mongols. But he notes that the Mamelukes never had to face the entire Mongol army.

The Mongols were not, unlike European feudal knights, scornful of alien technique. They adopted siege engines, explosives and even learned how to run a navy, mostly from the Chinese.

What they never did was develop a theory of statecraft apart from warcraft. Originally just bandits, success went to their heads and they decided they had been ordained to rule the world. For what purpose, other than loot, was never explained.

Thus, the Mongols formed the biggest but one of the briefest empires history has ever known.

In modern terms, May describes them as like the German army of 1940-41, with a hard-hitting striking force that penetrated an enemy zone, leaving less mobile forces to mop up. This was spectacularly unsuccessful in Russia in 1941, as the Germans never had enough infantry to do the mopping up and managed to lose nearly a million casualties without capturing any important objective.

What May says the Mongols did is rather different from what he describes them as doing. The Red Army used a combined, balanced force of infantry, tanks and artillery to methodically reduce entire nations, and this is closer to what the Mongols did (despite not having any equivalent of field artillery), especially in China.

The illustrations show today's Mongol army in 13th c. armor and arms, duplicating the formations of tens of their ancestors, amusingly like Civil War re-enactors in the United States.

5-0 out of 5 stars Rekindles Interest - The Art of War Mongolian Style
This is a readable and well-researched book. It moves fast and is rich with facts. I even enjoyed reading the chapter notes in the back.

"The Mongol Art of War" covers the years 1185-1265 and the leaders Chinggis (Genghis) Kahn through Khubilai (Kubla) Kahn. In all it took the empire only 80 years to conquer a vast range from Mongolia and China in the East to Russia and Persia in the West. Along the way the Mongols mastered the art of Steppe warfare including discipline and logistics, and showed a willingness to adapt and learn from their enemies including how to conduct siege warfare. The book includes a thought provoking discussion of similarity of Mongolian war tactics with war tactics in World War II especially Blitzkrieg.

Timothy May's passion for the Mongol war machine makes the book factual and fast-paced. He tells the 'bottom line' of Mongol rise and expansion in the first chapter, then explains the details of how they did it in the remaining eight.

This history is a surprising illustration that turns the tables on thinking of Mongols as uneducated barbarians. They had the ability to master themselves and logistics, and then to further learn and adapt from their campaign experiences. They were masters of communication, espionage and (where needed) deceit. These were some of the real reasons behind their empire's success.

I find it thought provoking to wonder at the end of the book: What would it have taken for Chinggis to assure continuity of his empire through time (past his lineage's death) in the same manner that he mastered its continuity in space (breadth). May's book rekindles interest and awareness of the contribution of the Mongol empire to the history and growth of Asia and East Europe culture.
... Read more

22. The Mongol Invasions of Japan 1274 and 1281 (Campaign)
by Stephen Turnbull
Paperback: 96 Pages (2010-01-26)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$12.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1846034566
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
The two attempts by Khubilai Khan, the Mongol Emperor of China, to invade Japan in 1274 and 1281 represent unique events in the history of both countries. It pitted the samurai of Japan against the fierce warriors of the steppes who had conquered half the known world.

The Mongol conquest of Korea left them with a considerable quantity of maritime resources, which enabled them to thin seriously for the first time about crossing the Tsushima strait between Korea and Japan with an army of invasion.The first invasion, which began with savage raiding on the islands of Tsushima and Iki, made a landfall at Hakata Bay and forced the samurai defenders back inland. Luckily for the Japanese defenders, a storm scattered the Mongol invasion fleet, leading them to abandon this attempt.

In the intervening years the Japanese made defensive preparation, and the Mongol increased their fleet and army, so that the second invasion involved one of the largest seaborne expeditions in world history up to that time. This attempt was aimed at the same landing site, Hakata Bay, and met stiffer opposition form the new defences and the aggressive Japanese defenders. Forced buy a series of major Japanese raids to stay in their ships at anchor, the Mongol fleet was obliterated by a typhoon - the kami kaze (divine wind) - for the loss of as many as 90 per cent of the invaders. Although further preparations were made for an assault by the Mongols at the end of the 13ht and beginning of the 14th centuries, this proved to be the last realistic threat of an invasion of the home islands till 1945. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Samurai 2, Mongols 0
Samurai vs. Mongols...what could be better? If you appreciate the Samurai-centric writing of Dr. Stephen Turnbull, then Osprey Campaign No. 217, The Mongol Invasions of Japan 1274 and 1281, will be another great addition to his historical output on Samurai military history. I've been reading Turnbull now for thirty years, since he wrote Samurai: A Military History. All in all, this is a good volume, solidly written and with new research, although if you've read any of Turnbull's previous works, a good amount of the material is familiar. To his credit, the author provides new information here from recent underwater archaeology that provides insight into the construction and destruction of Mongol warships off Japan (some of which is very interesting) and it is also clear that he made the effort to visit out-of-the-way places like the islands of Iki, Tsushima and Takashima to gather information. While the defeat of the two Mongol invasions has long resided in popular mythology as a result of the divine Kamikaze (divine Wind, i.e. a typhoon), Turnbull takes a hard look at the available data to provide a military appraisal of the campaign. In short, he assesses the first Mongol operation as a two-day raid and the second as undermined by poor planning.Overall, a fine piece of historical research.

The author begins with an unusually long, 13-page introduction that outlines the reasons for the Mongol effort to invade Japan. He also puts it in strategic context that it was essentially a sideshow, while the Mongols' main effort was focused on the defeat of China. Mongol efforts to negotiate with the Japanese - to reduce them to a tributary status - were ignored, which led to preparations for a naval expedition. As the author points out several times, lacking their own naval forces or heritage, the Mongols were forced to employ recently subjugated Korean and Chinese naval forces to invade Japan. His 7-page section on opposing armies also notes a different tactical dynamic that readers accustomed to late-period Samurai armies expect; rather than tactics dominated by sword, the Samurai of the 13th Century preferred the bow and arrow, particularly fired from horseback. Samurai tactics at this point preferred small tactical groups, which were useless against huge blocks of Mongol/Korean infantry armed with spears. The Mongols also enjoyed a one-sided advantage in gunpowder, which they used in exploding bombs (presumably delivered by catapult) and an ability to direct their troops with audible commands delivered by drums. Although the author makes clear that the Japanese held an advantage in man-to-man combat, they were clearly up against an unfamiliar enemy who held important tactical `combat multipliers' that could tip a battle in their favor.

The first invasion, which the author labels as a raid, is covered in 18 pages. Although a lot of details about this operation are obscure due to the paucity of sources, it is clear that the Mongols landed at Hakata Bay in Kyushu, pushed the Japanese back in hard fighting, but then curiously withdrew after a senior Mongol commander was wounded. I'm not sure I agree with Dr. Turnbull's depiction of this operation as a raid, since amphibious raids typically land where the enemy is weak, not where they are waiting with an army. If it was a raiding force, dispersing to strike multiple coastal targets would have been more appropriate than all landing at one spot. Furthermore, the fact that the Mongols went to the effort to capture the off-shore islands of Tsushima and Iki - but then curiously did not garrison them - is odd (I wish the author had addressed this).Based on their actions, it looks more like the Mongols were trying to establish a foothold in Kyushu, to be followed by a larger expedition once they were done with the war in China. Hakata Bay would have given them a nice, fortified bay as a beachhead.Leaving precipitously as they did, one suspects that they took a fair drubbing at the hands of the Samurai.

The second invasion is covered in 35 pages. The author discusses Japan counter-invasion preparations (building defensive walls at Hakata Bay, coast watchers, Buddhist prayers) and the apparent difficulty that the Mongols had in coordinating two separate invasion fleets, one from Korea and one from China. He provides significant detail on the Mongol landing at Hakata Bay and their inability to break through the Japanese defensive wall, as well as the Japanese small boat raids on the Mongol fleet. This section is well done, but it is clear that the limited number of contemporary sources severely restricts what we know about this battle. In the end, the Mongol's can't get a firm foothold ashore and the typhoon wrecks enough of their fleet to force them to abandon the expedition.The Japanese took the typhoon as divine deliverance from their enemy, which eventually grew into a potent nationalistic mythology.

The maps in this volume are good and the 3-D BEV maps are quite attractive. There is no order of battle for either side and the names and backgrounds of most commanders is minimal. As usual, it is clear that the author knows his stuff, which is what makes this volume work - in the hands of a lesser authority it would probably devolve into a speculative mush.The three battle scenes by Richard Hook are decent, but lack the eye-grabbing detail that Peter Dennis provides.Although the author provides a very nice "The Battlefield Today" section, the post-Typhoon denouement is a bit tedious, with various samurai and Buddhist monks arguing about who should get credit for defeating the Mongol invasion.Overall, a good volume.

4-0 out of 5 stars David versus Goliath in the Far East
Stephen Turnbull continues to write excellent books on Japanese military history regarding the samurai period. This book deals with the two Mongolian invasion attempts of Japan during the Kamakura Period. The book is laid out in your typical Osprey Campaign series format but it is amazing how much information is packed into this short book. It is interesting to note the difference style of the two armies and how they fought. Unit formations for the Mongols and individualism of the samurai warriors. The effects of kami kaze storms that scattered the first invasion fleet and destroyed the second invasion fleet is well told here. The maps and illustrations provided in this book proves to be quite helpful and very interesting. They definitely helped with the narrative account written by Stephen Turnbull. The book also went into the aftermath of the invasions that definitely led to the fall of the Japan's Kamakura Regency 52 years later.

Only part I thought was bit lacking was some more background history on behind the Japanese defense plan. From what I read, Kamakura leadership realized that if the invasion was not defeated at the beachhead, their nation would be lost as they may realized that once the Mongol army got a firm beachhead, Japan would not be able to win the land war. Interesting that many German generals in Normandy must have felt the same. It is interesting that the Mongols attacked the same place twice, Hakata instead of finding a more suitable invasion spot. After all, samurai warriors cannot be everywhere. Why the Mongols choose to land right into the tiger's jaw the second time is not explained all that clearly.

But overall, this is a pretty good book on a subject matter rarely bestowing its own book in the English language. Stephen Turnbull has once again written a superlative account that should be a mandatory reading for anyone interested in Japanese military history of the samurai period. ... Read more

23. The Mongols (Peoples of Asia)
by David Morgan
Paperback: 238 Pages (1991-01-15)
list price: US$36.95 -- used & new: US$7.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0631175636
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
This up-to-date chronicle benefits from new discoveries and a broad range of source material. David Morgan explains how the vast Mongolian Empire was organized and governed, examing the religious and policital character of the steppe nomadic society. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

3-0 out of 5 stars competent and interesting, but a dull reading experience
This is a very academic introduction to the Mongol people and more particularly, the empire founded by Genghis Khan.Written at the undergraduate level, it provides the basics as well as a sense of the state of the field, i.e. what is known, what is not, and what needs to be done.It is workmanlike in tone, but to put it mildly, very dry.

The beginning seemed designed to turn off all but the most determined reader.It is a scholarly overview of the original sources on the Mongols.While this is very interesting - to read them in the original it would require knowledge of Chinese, Persian, Turkish and Arabic at a minimum - the place for it is an afterward, or even footnotes, not 30 pages of turgid prose, that is, if you want to spark interest in a lay reader rather than count on academic obligation to get through it.

The same is true of the conclusion, which is an overview of scholarship since 1985, i.e. when the first edition was published.There you get served the dullest array of academic controversies, many of which are choices of emphasizing one interpretation over the others, e.g. were the Mongols really as brutal as their reputation or did they bring good to those they governed?An essential question, but the way that it is presented in unspeakably boring and reeks of intellectuals taking a stand in order to develop interpretations (however silly or unrealistic) in order to advance their careers.Indeed, that this is tacked on as a final chapter rather than integrated into the text is a sign of laziness if you ask me.There is no wrapup, but instead this stilted and rambling discussion of who is saying what at the moment.

That leaves a scant 150 pages for all of the historical information on the Mongols.As such, it is very thin gruel, stripped of any storytelling or feeling for how things were in the 13th and 14th century.It is threadbare and flavorless, if essential, reading.

Genghis Khan arose from the nomadic steppe peoples North of China.He raised a great army with a core of ur-loyalistshe kept as his bodyguard, otherwise he mixed the people of various tribes.The Mongol warriors' principal strength was their cavalry, which was capable of great coordination and flexibility on the field.Each knight had approximately 5 hourses in tow, in keeping with their nomadic lifestyles on the plains.This was also a limitation, of course, in that they had to find food for them.The difference, it seems, is that Genghis was not only after plunder, but was interested in tax revenues from conquered peoples (in particular the Chinese in the North) and even allowed local elites most of the power to administer in their stead, paying tribute while keeping their prestige, etc.This kind of cooptation is similar to the Romans (without the cultural assimilation component).Upon his death in 1227, he left a vast empire to be divided by his sons, who ruled more or less separately to 100 years, either ejected by collapse or absorbed into local elites.

The legacy of the Mongols remains controversial.Like conquerors of that time, they were extremely brutal, killing entire cities if they refused to capitulate without fighting.While they were impressed with both Persia and China, where they copied their civilizations, they destroyed or melted down many artifacts and irreplacable libraries such as those in Bagdad.They tolerated local religions, eventually adopting the Muslim religion to replace native shamanism, nestorian christianity, and buddhism.Their organizational genius may also have been copied by the Ottoman Turks.Like all empires, their collapse was quick when it occurred - disunited, warring between khanates, and far from supply lines and their cultural sources.

I am glad I read this book, but continually felt disappointed at its mediocre writing and airing of obscure academic controversies.Recommended tepidly.

4-0 out of 5 stars An interesting read...
David Morgan has written a fascinating book on the history of the Mongols and Genghis Khan. The book provides an overview of the government, religion, and politics of the Mongolian Empire and provides a very good start to understanding the Mongols. This is an excellent source to learn about one of the greatest military and social leaders in history, and is recommended for anyone who seeks a greater understanding of role of the Mongols in world history.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Rise and Fall of the Mongol Empire
Morgan writes an academic book of 13th century Mongolian history, culture and building of their societal infrastructure in 1986. Avoiding the titillating slash, burn, rape and pillage aspects of their conquests, a popular depiction of the Mongolian Yellow Horde, his scholarly topics give an insider's view of Medieval Mongolian society, politics, warfare, taxation, communications, laws, and adoption of conquered peoples' technology, culture and religion.

The first illustration is a 2-page spread, Map 1 (of 3 maps) of The Mongol Empire (pxii-xiii) providing an eye-catching beginning, which stretches from Korea to Italy, and emphasizes a central grayed patch of the subjugated Middle East south of the Black to the Aral Seas. The book includes 33 b&w illustrations about 1/2-1 page each, 12 pgs of references, and a 12 pg index in the original 1986 edition (reviewed). The second edition appears to be a briefly re-edited original and adding a final Chapter 9, "The Mongol Empire since 1985," about 20+ pages, unread.

It is amazing that they did this all on horseback, an indigenous part of 13th century Mongolian culture. Siberian and Mongolian peoples have a non-materialistic culture reflecting the resource-limited landlocked region. It is amazing that this was a family-owned enterprise and its Fall was exacerbated by not building a firmer and broader governmental base of infrastructural strength and succession. For example this period included a new adoption of a written formalization of the Mongolian language (p10) (like Arabic) and conversion from a Shamanistic religion towards Islam (p44). Included is the dispersal of Mongolian bloodlines (Chap6) begetting the Cossack, Tatar and Turkic peoples and expansion of the Islamic and Moslem religions adopted from Persia in modern-day Iran.

Morgan's book is a very good read that will broaden and deepen one's understanding on how the Asiatic Mongols created a vast empire, which enslaved more than half of the world's population, during a fundamentally important century in world history. His book's admitted limitation (p6) is his lack of fluency in Eurasian and Middle Eastern languages, so he is inherently limited to English translations and their biases.

Thus his book is limited to compiling previously published works, unfortunately not really getting inside the heads of the Mongolian leadership and uncovering and interpreting the whys and wherefores of their culture and motivation. Even after perusing the 6th Century BC Chinese Sun Tzu, "The Art of War," one is still left with an unsatisfied curiosity and understanding. Perhaps a more intimate multicultural, multidisciplinary anthology on this topic will be researched and written in the future.

The Rest of the Story

The 13th century was an exciting Renaissance era of the High Middle Ages in Medieval Europe. Innovative examples were the start of non-secular universities of higher learning and adoption of the magnetic compass, gunpowder, and printing on paper technologies. Surgical medicine and mechanical clocks was invented at the time and engineers started harnessing super-human/animal power using windmills, belts and gears with machinery. Gothic art and architecture was started at this time with building fortified castles for protection and roads for trade, not war (Roman).

Later in the 14th Century, Eurasia's Black Plague killed off half of its population, a wasting systemic immune disease caused by bacterium in fleas spread by rodent hosts, originally carried by the Mongolians (p133). The spread of this disease was exacerbated by long periods of war, climatic change, crop failures and subsequent famine in conquered China and Europe. This self-limiting event effectively ended the Mongolian empire.

Even with fast horses and a nomadic society with armies of half million (p88) and their supply lines, it is hard to imagine crossing the formidable cold, high deserts of current Central Asia. Serious consideration of recent work in Palaeo-Climatology is needed to believe a century of successful Mongolian conquest. Unbeknownst to the author, a much more favorable lush grass steppes existed 700-800 years ago. Now referred as the Medieval Warm Period, the geologic record in Northern Europe coincides with a peak in solar activity named the Medieval Maximum (1100-1250). Also there is a fundamental Milankovitch theory on cyclic climatic change due to the earth's eccentric orbit and tilt wobble.

The climatological Jet Stream across Central Asia follows a southeasterly direction from the Eurasian Arctic towards the Mongolia and Tibetan plateaus, bringing much more rain to the Middle East and Central Asia, further enhancing the nomadic life style and encouraging imperialism. Palaeoclimatolgists have shown that Central Asia, the Caspian Sea region and Altai Mountain range had "a milder, less continental climate with more precipitation approximately from the 9th to 12th centuries" by analyzing sediment cores in Lake Baikal, the deepest and largest lake in Eurasia, just north of the Old Silk Road in Siberian Russia.

Additionally, NE China was wetter during the Medieval Warm Period upon analyzing pollen cores in the Maili Bog in NE China's (Manchuria) Jilin mountainous province, indicating more monsoon rains during that 200-year period. Thus conclusively palaeoclimatogists have shown that a warmer and wetter climate existed in 13th Century Eurasia thus facilitating a great surge in a hungry, mobile Mongolian population and resulted in conquest, imperialism and world domination.

And the palaeoclimatological Little Ice Age starting in the 14th Century effectively ended the Mongolian Empire precipiated by Europe's Great Famine of 1315-1317.

From teaching in the UK, Morgan emigrated to the States and is now the senior member of a staff of three in Middle Eastern History. He has been Professor of History and Religious Studies (Islam), U Wisconsin, Madison since 1999. He was recruited to grow its Middle East studies program, the smallest part of the Dept of History, College of L&S. He was Director of Middle East Studies, 2002-6, with research interests in the history of Iran and Islamic Central Asia. With a Middle East History section having 1 TA and 5 grad students, even with the CIA's current emphasis on growing America's understanding of Middle East's language, ideology and culture, only a small dent is being prepared at U Wisconsin. BA 1966, Oxford; PhD 1977 U London, thesis: Mongols in Iran; on faculty of U London's African and Oriental Studies program for 24 yrs.

4-0 out of 5 stars Sober Evaluation of the Mongols
In the wake of Jack Weatherford's extremely popular "Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World," I'm guessing interest in Genghis Khan and his Mongolian Empire is reaching new heights. I must admit that I, too, was introduced into the fascinating world of the Mongolians through Weatherford's bestseller, so I owe him alot for introducing to me what I consider a new passion in life.

Weatherford's work, while being extremely well researched and well written, is extremely revisionist, and gives a very forgiving and optimistic account of Genghis Khan, his predecessors, and their abilities. Weatherford takes great pains to combat the traditional stereotypes of Genghis Khan and the Mongolians as barbaric, mass-murdering hordes. At the same time, I feel that since for many people Weatherford's book will be the very first people read about the Mongols, alot of people will get an impression of the Mongols that is a little too favorable and optimistic, and this is where David Morgan's "The Mongols" comes in.

"The Mongols" is, in a word, sober. On one hand, it definitely breaks away from the precedent set by medieval scholars in viewing Genghis Khan and the Mongols as purely forces of wanton destruction. Whenever Morgan evaluates a primary source, which he does often, he takes great pains to weed out any political motivations to skewer numbers and accounts that existed at the time, of which there were many. This means that Morgan never overestimates Mongol detruction, but he doesn't underestimate it either, which what Weatherford seems to have done, basing his book on select sources. I therefore recommend "The Mongols" as a good, middle-of-the-road source for establishing the historical events of the 12th to 13th century. When reading "The Mongols," one always gets a sense that Morgan is a level-headed, unbiased thinker, which is the perfect type of historian necessary for a period as tumultuous as the years of the Mongolian Empire. It's a good followup to "Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World," together the two books give an good picture.

Additionaly, since this book is part of "The Peoples of Europe" collection, this book includes a special focus on the Mongols interactions with Europe, including both direct interaction in the invasions of Russia, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe, and indirect interactions in the forms of the emmisaries, missionaries, merchants, and diplomats that were excanged between the East and the West. Much to my surprise, being a part of "The Peoples of Europe" series did not exclude a very thorough and extensive coverage of Mongol activity in Persia, Central Asia, and China, so when viewed as a whole, Morgan's work is still a very complete coverage.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to an obscure people
Morgan's book is easily the best introduction to one of the more interesting peoples of history.It's as much an account of the historiography of Mongol studies as it is a study of the Mongol people, as Morgan details the extant sources available to modern scholars for the subject.This is important, given the scope of the Mongol empire, which at its peak reached from China to Hungary, encompassing all that was in between.Such breadth of conquest places great demands on historians, limiting anybody who is not a polyglot of the languages of the era to base their study on the region in which they specialize and translations of the other languages.A student of Persian, Morgan makes an excellent case for the quality of the sources in that language.

Still, the lack of a written Mongolian language (not developed until the reign of Chingiz Khan) means that much of the history of the empire is lost to us, and that what does exist is produced by outsiders.Nevertheless, Morgan does a first-rate job of describing its expansion and operation.He explains that the Mongols owed their incredible success to their use of mounted warriors, a natural role for a nomadic people.This heavy use of horses both gave them and also limited their conquests: Morgan theorizes that inadequate pastureland may have been a critical factor in the withdrawal of Mongol invaders from both Hungary in 1242 and Syria in 1260.But the most revealing factor of the importance of the Mongol army in its historical achievements lay in the overthrow of Mongol rule; it was in the areas where the Mongols were able to maintain their nomadic lifestyles (and thus their military advantage) that Mongol control proved most enduring.In all, Morgan provides a good, concise overview of a fascinating subject. ... Read more

24. The Story of the Mongols Whom We Call the Tartars= Historia Mongalorum Quo s Nos Tartaros Appellamus: Friar Giovanni Di Plano Carpini's Account of His Embassy to the Court of the Mongol Khan
by Da Pian Del Carpine Giovanni
Paperback: 136 Pages (1996-04)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$10.00
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Asin: 0828320179
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (6)

3-0 out of 5 stars An incomplete document
If you are really interested in this subject, then you should get Mission to Asia edited by Christopher Dawson. Mission to Asia contains the Plano Carpini work, but also contains the account of William of Rubruck as well as the narrative of Brother Benedict the Pole, and other documents. For an excellent discussion of this work see the review of Mission to Asia by Mithridates VI of Pontus.

5-0 out of 5 stars Just a must
This book is a must for schoolas and historians. One of few avaible sourses from European monk who traveled to Mongol Empire. Very interesting.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting and Colourful Read
Set in the wastes of central Asia, circa XIII c., our author is is an unlikely spy - an old and arthritic friar, but he does his job well.

His compiled work, presented to the pope upon his return to Italy, was the first real glimpse Europe had into the terrible threat on her eastern borders.It was widely reproduced and sent far and wide to the kings and princes of Europe, and became a kind of handbook for fighting the Mongols.

His occassional embelishments, held as sacred truths when first written, add unintentional comic relief, and help one understand the mysterious worldview the medieaval European held.

I picked this one up for a paper, and was planning to skim through it, but I ended up reading the whole thing.I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

5-0 out of 5 stars Romans in China?
A fascinating book! Of interest not only to the expert, but also to everyone seriously interested in history. The following article provides perspective. On August 24, 2000, The Los Angeles Times carried an article headlined "Digging for Romans in China." The article presented evidence for a Roman legion having been stationed in China sometime around the beginning of this era. The Romans apparently stayed a considerable while, and very likely intermarried with the local Chinese.

What? Romans in China? But wasn't Marco Polo the first? No, he was simply the most famous. Sporadic, but unrecorded, contacts quite possibly occurred since the domestication of the horse in prehistoric times.Nor was Marco Polo the first documented contact.Preceding him by some fifty year was Friar Giovanni di Plano Carpini.

In Giovanni's time, about 1250 AD, some 800 years had passed since the devastation caused by the Huns, but these events were by no means forgotten. Reports filtering in regarding the Mongols (also called Tartars) were even more frightening.Europe badly needed information on how to deal with this new threat. Friar Giovanni was sent by the Pope to convert the Mongols to Christianity -- if possible. But the main purpose of his mission was to spy.

Friar Giovanni seems like an unlikely emissary/spy - he was sixty years old and corpulent; but he executed his mission admirably. His slender book is not only an important historical source, but also a most fascinating record of his observations. Compared to other medieval travel accounts (e.g., Polo, Mandeville) Giovanni's is very measured and matter of fact; nor does he pepper his account with numerous fantastic assertions. Yet - and this is the fascinating part - he is not entirely free of these either. He mentions a race of people who have no knees; another race whose women are of human appearance, but whose men have the shape of a dog; another who have only one arm and leg, and who must work in pairs to shoot a bow; yet another have very small mouths and live off the fumes of their cooking; and several more. He also mentions a place where the sun makes such a terrible sound (yes, sound!) that people live underground. Now, he does not actually claim to have seen these wonders. So why does he seemingly cheapen his account by including these? My own explanation is this: the medieval worldview required that such creatures exist. It appears to have been the duty of every writer of travel accounts to confirm this worldview.

But then, have we really gotten very far away? What about recurrent reports of Bigfoot? And what about the strange menagerie populating Star Wars and Star Trek?

The cover of the book is a gem! Taken around 1900, it shows a Mongol warrior in full panoply -he could have stepped right out of the army of Jenghis Khan! Worth getting for the cover alone.

4-0 out of 5 stars A must read primary source!
Ifyou are in the process of reading about Mongolia and its domination of world afairs in the 13th century, then this book is a must read. Eric Hildiger's translation makes this work by the Friar flow in a smooth easyreadable manner. If you are a student of History then you know theinvaluable nature of primary sources. This account reflects the attitudesof Europeans at this time period toward the peoples from the steppe and yetit issurprisingly refreshing in pointing out characteristics that theEuropeans might emulate. The Friar's accounts of events has become the mainsource for many works written about this era . I highly recommend this bookas a starting off point for this subject area. ... Read more

25. Muslims, Mongols and Crusaders
Hardcover: 352 Pages (2005-05-24)
list price: US$190.00 -- used & new: US$170.37
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Asin: 070071393X
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The period from about 1100 to 1350 in the Middle East was marked by continued interaction between the local Muslim rulers and two groups of non-Muslim invaders: the Frankish crusaders from western Europe and the Mongols from northeastern Asia. This volume consists of reprints of some of the most interesting and important articles on this period of the crusades published by the School of Oriental and African Studies. The papers reprinted here include discussion of Arabic and other sources for the period (including the controversial "travels" of Marco Polo), innovative studies of military, diplomatic, and administrative issues, and historiography on the Mongol Empire. ... Read more

26. Empire's Twilight: Northeast Asia under the Mongols (Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series)
by David M. Robinson
Hardcover: 450 Pages (2009-12-31)
list price: US$49.50 -- used & new: US$39.45
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Asin: 0674036085
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The rise of the Mongol empire transformed world history. Its collapse in the mid-fourteenth century had equally profound consequences. Four themes dominate this study of the late Mongol empire in Northeast Asia during this chaotic era: the need for a regional perspective encompassing all states and ethnic groups in the area; the process and consequences of pan-Asian integration under the Mongols; the tendency for individual and family interests to trump those of dynasty, country, or linguistic affiliation; and finally, the need to see Koryo Korea as part of the wider Mongol empire.

Northeast Asia was an important part of the Mongol empire, and developments there are fundamental to understanding both the nature of the Mongol empire and the new post-empire world emerging in the 1350s and 1360s. In Northeast Asia, Jurchen, Mongol, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese interests intersected, and the collapse of the Great Yuan reshaped Northeast Asia dramatically. To understand this transition, or series of transitions, the author argues, one cannot examine states in isolation. The period witnessed intensified interactions among neighboring polities and new regional levels of economic, political, military, and social integration that explain the importance of personal and family interests and of Korea in the Mongol state.

... Read more

27. The Powers of Prophecy: The Cedar of Lebanon Vision from the Mongol Onslaught to the Dawn of the Enlightenment
by Robert E. Lerner
Paperback: 249 Pages (2009-08-15)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$23.89
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Asin: 0801475376
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The Powers of Prophecy is an original attempt to investigate the subject of medieval eschatological prophecies: how and in what circumstances they were written; how they circulated; what they told people about the future; and how they were received. Although scholars have studied the ideas of a few outstanding medieval prophetic thinkers or the role of prophecies in heretical movements and popular insurrections, up to now there has been no attempt to study the most commonplace medieval prophetic ideas as they were communicated in the most frequently copied and widely read anonymous prophetic texts.

Dedicated to pursuing the typical, Lerner's book traces the fortunes of an eschatological prophecy that was first written around 1240 and thereafter circulated throughout Western Europe for more than four centuries. Originally composed as a response to the Mongol onslaught, the prophecy was resurrected and reconceived to apply to other crises such as the fall of the Holy Land, the Black Death, and the Protestant Reformation. Although it was supposed to have descended form on high, allegedly being a message written by a disembodied moving hand over an altar during mass, countless scribes felt no qualms about recirculating the text with substantial changes. Among the many who took note of the prophecy in one or another of its numerous guises were the scholastic theological John of Paris; the Infante Peter, a prince of the house of Aragon; John Clyn, an Irish monk who entered it into his chronicle shortly before dying of the bubonic plague; and Martin Luther. ... Read more

28. Prester John: The Mongols and the Ten Lost Tribes
 Hardcover: 315 Pages (1996-08)
list price: US$140.00 -- used & new: US$140.00
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Asin: 086078553X
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This volume contains the principal sources relating to the Prester John legend, along with a number of modern articles on the topic. The legend is examined in the context of such themes as Mongol history, Russian literature, and the medieval Jewish accounts of the Ten Lost Tribes. ... Read more

29. Early Mongol Rule in Thirteenth-Century Iran: A Persian Renaissance
by George E. Lane
Hardcover: 344 Pages (2003-04-15)
list price: US$200.00 -- used & new: US$176.26
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Asin: 0415297508
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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An account of the re-emergence of Persia as a world player and the reassertion of its cultural, political and spiritual links with Turan, this book opposes the way in which, for too long, the whole period of Mongol domination of Iran has been viewed from a negative standpoint. Though arguably the initial irruption of the Mongols brought little comfort to those in its path, this is not the case with the second 'invasion' of the Chinggisids. This study demonstrates that Hülegü Khan came as a welcomed king rather than as a conqueror. It paints a picture of the early Il-Khanate as a cultural and spiritual renaissance and reveals both Hülegü and his son Abaqa as fathers of that legacy. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good book
Recommended for those who are interested in medieval Iranian history, in Mongol history, etc. Good to undertand impact of local high culture to Mongols; connections between diferent parts of Great Mongol Empire; also usefull for those who are interested in history of Golden Horde and Mamluq's Egypt. ... Read more

30. Muslim Fortresses in the Levant: Between Crusaders and Mongols (Culture and Civilization in the Middle East)
by Kate Raphael
 Hardcover: 288 Pages (2010-11-01)
list price: US$130.00 -- used & new: US$104.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0415569257
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During much of the twelfth century the Crusaders dominated the military scene in the Levant. The unification of Egypt and Syria by Saladin gradually changed the balance of power, which slowly begun to tilt in favour of the Muslims. This book examines the development and role of Muslim fortresses in the Levant at the time of the Crusaders and the Mongol invasion, situating the study within a broad historical, political and military context.

Exploring the unification of Egypt with a large part of Syria and its effect on the balance of power in the region, Raphael gives a historical overview of the resulting military strategies and construction of fortresses. A detailed architectural analysis is based on a survey of four Ayyubid and eight Mamluk fortresses situated in what are today the modern states of Jordan, Israel, Southern Turkey and Egypt (the Sinai Peninsula). The author then explores the connection between strongholds or military architecture, and the development of siege warfare and technology, and examines the influence of architecture and methods of rule on the concept of defence and the development of fortifications.

Drawing upon excavation reports, field surveys and contemporary Arabic sources, the book provides the Arabic architectural terminology and touches on the difficulties of reading the sources. Detailed maps of the fortresses in the region, the Mongol invasion routs, plans of sites and photographs assist the reader throughout the book, providing an important addition to existing literature in the areas of Medieval Archaeology, Medieval military history and Middle Eastern studies.

... Read more


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