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The untold story of the world’s greatest empire and the creation of modern China

Genghis Khan is one of history's immortals: a leader of genius, driven by an inspiring vision for peaceful world rule. Believing he was divinely protected, Genghis united warring clans to create a nation and then an empire that ran across much of Asia.

Under his grandson, Kublai Khan, the vision evolved into a more complex religious ideology, justifying further expansion. Kublai doubled the empire's size until, in the late 13th century, he and the rest of Genghis’s ‘Golden Family’ controlled one fifth of the inhabited world. Along the way, he conquered all China, gave the nation the borders it has today, and then, finally, discovered the limits to growth.

Genghis's dream of world rule turned out to be a fantasy. And yet, in terms of the sheer scale of the conquests, never has a vision and the character of one man had such an effect on the world.

Charting the evolution of this vision, John Man provides a unique account of the Mongol Empire, from young Genghis to old Kublai, from a rejected teenager to the world’s most powerful emperor.

Reviews

Wonderful... what sets it apart is the way the tale is told. Quirky digressions and fascinating anecdotes pepper a narrative of wonderful dramatic energy.

Gerard DeGroot, The Times

Excellent and profoundly committed ... Man provides a vivid, lucid and economical picture. A worthy addition to the burgeoning popular literature on the centaurs of the steppes.

Frank McLynn, Literary Review

[Man] does a splendid job of conveying the sheer opulence and grandeur... [and tells] a rollicking good story, his historical narrative interspersed with high-spirited travel-writerly digressions. Lively and engaging.

Justin Marozzi, The Spectator

A very lively and enjoyable book.

Peter Lewis, Daily Mail

One could not wish for a better storyteller or analyst than John Man.

Simon Sebag Montefiore

His ability to put us in the picture, to feel, smell and almost touch the surroundings he describes, is matched by his ability to tell a good story.

Michael Palin

Man, who has travelled widely in the region, focuses on the distinctive features of the empire which these unscrupulous conquerors founded, and the legacy that they left behind.

John Ure, Times Literary Supplement

John Man’s history shows that, while the Mongol hordes were bloodthirsty, Genghis also instituted an enlightened form of government based on religious toleration. He also shows how Genghis’s grandson, Kublai, succeeded in unifying China, laying the groundwork for the modern superpower. Man’s account is fast paced.

David Evans, Independent

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780552168809

    July 1, 2015

    Corgi

    400 pages

    RRP $22.99

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  • EBook

    9781448154647

    June 19, 2014

    Transworld Digital

    400 pages

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