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The Secret History of The Mongol Queens: How The Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire by Jack Weatherford: A Book Review

The Secret History of The Mongol Queens: How The Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire
Author: Jack Weatherford
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, History
Publisher: Broadway Books
Release Date: 2011
Pages: 336
Source: My State Public Library
Synopsis: The Mongol queens of the thirteenth century ruled the largest empire the world has ever known. Yet sometime near the end of the century, censors cut a section from The Secret History of the Mongols, leaving a single tantalizing quote from Genghis Khan: “Let us reward our female offspring.” Only this hint of a father’s legacy for his daughters remained of a much larger story. 

     The queens of the Silk Route turned their father’s conquests into the world’s first truly international empire, fostering trade, education, and religion throughout their territories and creating an economic system that stretched from the Pacific to the Mediterranean. Outlandish stories of these powerful queens trickled out of the Empire, shocking the citizens of Europe and and the Islamic world.

     After Genghis Khan’s death in 1227, conflicts erupted between his daughters and his daughters-in-law; what began as a war between powerful women soon became a war against women in power as brother turned against sister, son against mother. At the end of this epic struggle, the dynasty of the Mongol queens had seemingly been extinguished forever, as even their names were erased from the historical record.. 
           
     One of the most unusual and important warrior queens of history arose to avenge the wrongs, rescue the tattered shreds of the Mongol Empire, and restore order to a shattered world. Putting on her quiver and picking up her bow, Queen Mandhuhai led her soldiers through victory after victory. In her thirties she married a seventeen-year-old prince, and she bore eight children in the midst of a career spent fighting the Ming Dynasty of China on one side and a series of Muslim warlords on the other. Her unprecedented success on the battlefield provoked the Chinese into the most frantic and expensive phase of wall building in history. Charging into battle even while pregnant, she fought to reassemble the Mongol Nation of Genghis Khan and to preserve it for her own children to rule in peace.
           
     At the conclusion of his magnificently researched and ground-breaking narrative, Weatherford notes that, despite their mystery and the efforts to erase them from our collective memory, the deeds of these Mongol queens inspired great artists from Chaucer and Milton to Goethe and Puccini, and so their stories live on today. With The Secret History of the Mongol Queens, Jack Weatherford restores the queens’ missing chapter to the annals of history. 

     My Review: Genghis Khan’s fascinating tale of his rise to founding the Mongolian empire is well-known. What many people did not know was that it was the Mongolian queens (his wives, daughters, and female descendants) that helped restore the dying empire. Their contributions have been erased or altered throughout history as their censors have been trying to rewrite history and to undermine their influence. Yet, the author, Jack Weatherford, brings these remarkable women into the spotlight and shows us how they were the support that helped protect Genghis Khan’s massive empire.

    Genghis Khan acknowledged how it was the women who helped found his empire. He believed that women were important to ruling his empire as much as his men. He knew that his sons were incompetent at ruling his empire, so he made his wives and daughters rulers of strategically important territories within his empire. Yet, because these women were given so much power that had never been exercised by women before, the women turned on each other and that weakened the empire.

     However, these women eventually restored the dynasty. Jack Weatherford tells us many stories about these fascinating queens. Each of the queens were strong and were the rock of the empire. Some of these women were Khutulun and Queen Manduhai. Khutulun was a wrestler, She challenged her suitors that she would marry them if they beat her in a wrestling match, and none of them ever beat her.  Queen Manduhai helped restore the empire and created a strong government that helped their nation to live on for centuries.

     Overall, The Secret History of The Mongol Queens shows the accomplishments of how the women helped build the Mongolian nation. While the men were building monuments that did nothing to help their nation, it was the queens who protected it. The message of this book is that even though people have tried to erase or alter history, the truth will always be revealed if we are willing to seek it. These women’s stories have tried to be erased in documents, but they have never been forgotten in people’s minds. The Secret History of The Mongol Queens is scholarly, meticulously researched and a comprehensive read for the general reader. The writing is engaging and their stories will leave you breathless and fascinated at how strong and intelligent these women were. This book is a great tribute to the accomplishments of these captivating Mongol queens.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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