‘The Secret History of the Mongol Queens’ by Jack Weatherford

The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire by [Weatherford, Jack]

You have to persevere a bit with this. At the outset I thought the book was left-over research looking for a purpose, but it is not so. Weatherford’s first (very interesting) premise is that Genghis Khan married his daughters into various existing small khanates all over Mongolia (utilising the Mongolian custom of exogamy). As his empire grew he continued the practice over a lot of what is now China. The daughters were put in charge while the husbands were serving with Genghis Khan’s armies. Their administrative talents (learned from their dad) and the family connection meant not only that they administered ably, but also actively supported Genghis Khan and each other. After the great khan’s death his sons took to fighting among themselves, marginalising and murdering their sisters, and the empire collapsed.

Weatherford next looks into various other powerful women in the area, in the tradition of those early daughters of Genghis Khan. Finally he explores the life, rule and legacy of Manduhai Khatun – whom I had not come across before – but who proves to be a very clever woman indeed.

En passant he deals with how the later Mongol empire related to its neighbours and Europe.

He has had access to many more documents than the ‘Secret History of the Mongols’ (to which his title pays homage) and has chased his Mongolian queens through many primary sources. These sources become more plentiful as the centuries roll on, writing becomes more common and documents proliferate.

The brushwork illustrations of Mongol queens in all their finery at the beginning of each section are a real delight (and quite different from the rather androgynous archer on the front cover)

There is a good bibliography and serviceable index.

First published 2010.

**** rating.

Published by Judi Moore

Hi there, I hope you find something to interest you here. In December 2017 I published my fourth book – ‘Wonders will never cease’. It’s a satirical campus novel set in the fictional Ariel University in 1985. If you enjoyed Tom Sharpe’s Porterhouse novels, Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’, David Lodge’s campus novels or Malcolm Bradbury’s ‘The History Man’ back in the day, you may enjoy revisiting the ivory towers of 1980s’ academe thirty years on. See what you think. “It is December, 1985. The year is winding gently towards its close until Fergus Girvan, a Classicist at Ariel University, finds his research has been stolen by the man who is also seeking to steal his daughter. But which man is, actually, the more unscrupulous of the two? And is there hope for either of them?” In the autumn of 2015 I published a volume of short fiction: 'Ice Cold Passion and other stories'. I am also the author of novella 'Little Mouse', a shortish piece of historical fiction which I published in 2014 and, a sequel to it, 'Is death really necessary?', my eco thriller set in the near future and which, confusingly, I published in 2009. All the books are available from all good online bookshops and FeedARead on paper, and as e-books on Kindle. On a semi-regular basis, and about a month after the event, I post here reviews which I do for Big Al & Pals, the premier reviewer of indie books, based in the States. My interests tend to thrillers, SF, magic realism and other quirky stuff. On this blog are also posted the reviews I did for Leighton Buzzard Music Club over some five years up to the end of 2015. LBMC present annual seasons of eight monthly chamber music concerts at the Library Theatre in Leighton Buzzard, Bucks. They select young musicians just beginning to make their name - and the concerts are usually magnificent. I was very proud to be associated with them. I review other music, books, theatre and exhibitions which I've particularly enjoyed.

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