Mongolia Books - Recommended Reading

Books about Mongolia & Mongolian History


     Mongolia, Chinggis Khan (Genghis Khan) and the history of the Mongolian people has held a deep fascination for numerous authors for centuries and continues to inspire writers today. There is a large amount of literature available about Chinggis Khan, the Mongol tribes, the Mongol Empire, and modern Mongolia.
   The roots of this fascination with the Mongol peoples lie with the founder of  the largest empire the world has ever known, Chinggis Khan. Chinggis Khan has been the inspiration for hundreds of books about himself and the Mongol Empire. For many authors and readers the fact that a minor chieftain from an obscure nomadic tribe called the Mongols could come to rule a vast world empire is astounding. Chinggis Khan's  ability to conquer his  numerous enemies and his success at incorporating those enemies into the ranks of Mongol armies and his growing empire is a riddle for which scholars and experts have yet to provide a cogent answer. The creation of the Mongol Empire has remained a powerfully compelling story and seemingly beyond comprehension for many. 
   Central Asian, Middle Eastern,  European, Russian, and Chinese kingdoms were systematically invaded and conquered by Chinggis Khan and his sons in the thirteenth century. This galvanized the world's attention and created the need for understanding of this revolutionary historical development.
  Some authors have said that the idea of a "world history" actually began with the Mongol conquests and their creation of the  world's largest empire because it established the first long term connection between the East and West. Most of the history about the Mongols was written by  authors that were natives of nations that were conquered and ruled by the Mongols. This has caused a notable bias against the Mongols in many historical texts including those written by Persian, Arab, Russian and Chinese historians.  The inherent prejudice of these learned historians whose countries and kings were subjegated by the "uncivilized" Mongols permitted them to include distorted views of the Mongols and their history.  One of the exceptions to this pattern is the famous Mongolian book titled "The Secret History of the Mongols" which contains elements of Mongol folk mythology and narratives of actual historical events.
  Others have argued that the rise of Chinggis Khan and the creation of the Mongol Empire was an aberration, a mere accident of history, a military "juggernaut" created without long term planning or vision. Their rationale for this conclusion  is based in the belief that an "uncivilized, non-intellectual barbarian" nomadic tribe could not possibly think in such powerfully complex  and prescient terms. 
  The fact remains that the Mongols not only conquered very powerful nations, administered them ably for hundreds of years, successfully negotiated alliances with European rulers,  and opened up long term East/West trade. They also created new schools of art, commissioned the writing of the first world history, and consolidated the Russian and Chinese kingdoms to help create the Russia and China of today; all of which when assessed objectively clearly contradicts the naive view of the "aberrationists". 
   Many others thought that God had sent the "pagan barbarian" Mongols as a punishment for their sins and sought understanding of these events through religous envoys sent to the courts of the Mongol Khans.  Some of the earliest works about Mongolia and the Mongol emperors were written by the envoys of the pope to the Mongol courts in the thirteenth century. Since these early books about the Mongols, many other books have been written about the Mongols and Mongolia by travelers, scholars including the most famous, which is "The Travels of Marco Polo".

Recommended Articles & Books about Mongolian History and Culture

"China as a Successor State to the Mongol Empire" by Hidehiro Okada 
Prof. Okada lays down the argument that the basis for Ming sovereignty was based on their claim of being legitimate successors to the Mongol Khans. 
"The Vicissitudes of Mongolian Historiography in the Twentieth Century"  by Thomas D. Haining  
Published in “The Mongol Empire and its Legacy,” Edited by Reuven Amitai-Preiss and David O. Morgan.
"Cassiodorus and Rashid al-Din on Barbarian Rule in Italy and Persia"  by David  O. Morgan
The treaties of the early Mamluk sultans with the Frankish state.
"History of the World Conqueror"  by 'Ala ad-Din 'Ata-Malik Juvaini –
Considered to be one of the masterpieces of Persian prose literature, this work delves into the career of Genghis Khan, founder of the Mongol Empire.
"The Influence of Chingiz Khan's Yasa Upon the General Organization of the Mamluk State"  by A.N. Poliak 
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 10 (1940-42).
"The Journey of William Rubruk"  by W.W. Rockhill 
The Journey of William Rubruck to the eastern parts of the world, 1253-55, as narrated by himself, ... Translated from the Latin and ed. with an introductory notice, by William Woodville, Rockhill.
The Secret History of the Mongols by Igor de Rachewiltz  
Translation of the thirteenth century epic Mongolian chronicle on the origins of the Mongols, Genghis Khan and his family. 

Genghis Khan, His Life and Legacy by Paul Ratchnevsky
The history of Genghis Khan's difficult formative period, his struggle for survival and eventual rise to power.

The Mongols by David Morgan
History of the Mongols and their invasions with detailed descriptions of European views at the time of this dreaded onslaught.

The Devil's Horsemen by James Chambers
Military historian's examination of the Mongol army, its campaigns, famous battles, armies, innovative tactics and weaponry.

Khubilai Khan, His Life and Times by Morris Rossabi
The story of one of the most enlightened Mongol emperors and his innovative administration's rule over China.

Storm from the East by Robert Marshall
Overview of the Mongol Empire with photographs and illustrations of the Mongol Empire's historical sites, relics and artworks.

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford
Reappraisal highlighting the positive contributions and legacy of Genghis Khan and his brilliant far-reaching vision.

Modern Mongolia, Reclaiming Genghis Khan by Paula Sabloff
Genghis Khan, the founding father of Mongolia as seen by Mongolians today in the context of Mongolian society and culture.
The Modern History of Mongolia by C.R. Bawden – Published by Kegan Paul International, 1968
Very useful history of Mongolia from the seventeenth century till the mid 1950’s. Examination of Soviet    era political history and regional relations.
Taiga by Ulrike Ottinger – Published by Verlag, Dirk Nishen GmbH & Co KG, 1993
The reindeer herding tribal peoples of northern Mongolia documented in striking photographs by Ulrike Ottinger, also made an epic film about the reindeer herders with the same title. Photographs in color and black & white.
Studies in Mongolian History, Culture and Historiography by Sh. Bira, Edited by Ts. Ishdorj & Kh. Purevtogtokh – Published by International Association of Mongol Studies, 2001
Collection of articles in Mongolian and English about a range of topics by Sh. Bira the preeminent Mongolian historian. Including “Khubilai Khan and Phags-Pa Lama”, “The Secret History of the Mongols”, “Indo-Tibetan and Mongolian Historiographical Mutual Contacts”, “The Mongolian Language, Lexicography and Historiography” and several other  important articles which include a Mongolian perspective on history.
Flexibility & Limitation in Steppe Formations – The Kerait Khanate and  Chinggis Khan by Isenbike Togan – Brill, 1998
Isenbike Togan explores the complicated tribal politics in great detail during the period of Chinggis Khan’s rise to power. The Kerait tribe and its alliances and conflicts with other powerful tribes is the central focus of this important study. 


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