Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford
These are my general notes and lessons learned more than a full summary like I normally write. The book is well written and easy to follow, it kept me interested the entire time. If you are interested in learning about Genghis Khan I definitely recommend this book.
For additional reading on Genghis Khan and his leadership, I found this PDF document by Alan Culler informative.
My Favorite Quotes
- It will be easy to forget your vision and purpose once you have fine clothes, fast horses and beautiful women. In that case you will be no better than a slave and you will surely lose everything.
- Conquering an army is not the same as conquering a nation. You may conquer an army with superior tactics and men; but you can conquer a nation only by conquering the hearts of the people.
The time period covered in the book is: 1162-1962.
Sections of the Book
- Part I: The Reign of Terror on The Steppe: 1162-1206
- Part II: The Mongol World War: 1211-1261
- Part III: The Global Awakening: 1262-1962
Notes and Lessons Learned
Genghis Khan’s objective in conquering: frighten the enemy into surrendering before an actual battle begins.
Genghis Khan’s army combined traditional fierceness and speed with the highest technological sophistication of Chinese civilization.
His army diverted rivers into cities as a tactic. The first time, they had problems flooding their own camp but they got better with each use of the tactic.
Victory did not come to the one who played by the rules; it came to the one who made the rules and imposed them on his enemy.
Genghis Khan had an unbridled use of terror and surprise.
Genghis Khan had a genius for warfare, ability to inspire the loyalty of his followers, and an unprecedented skill for organizing on a global scale. This was acquired by a persistent cycle of pragmatic learning, experimental adaptation, and constant revision driven by his disciplined mind and focused will.
In every battle he learned something new. In every skirmish he acquired more followers and additional fighting techniques. In each struggle he combined the new ideas into a constantly changing set of military tactics, strategies and weapons. He never fought the same war twice.
Each caravan of goods brought back after a successful battle created an appetite for more goods.
A leader should demonstrate his thoughts and opinions through his actions, not through his words.
Printing, gunpowder, and the compass were widely spread technologies during the Mongol empire.
Everything he did was preceded by thought and preparation.
He conquered two times more than anyone else in history.
Developments of Genghis Khan
- Developed a postal system
- Developed the first cannon
- Paper currency
- Established hospitals and medical training centers
Teachings to his Children
Warned them against the pursuit of a colorful life with material frivolities and wasteful pleasures.
“It will be easy to forget your vision and purpose once you have fine clothes, fast horses and beautiful women. In that case you will be no better than a slave and you will surely lose everything.”
“Conquering an army is not the same as conquering a nation. You may conquer an army with superior tactics and men; but you can conquer a nation only by conquering the hearts of the people.”
By 1235 his son had squandered most of his wealth.
Organization of the Army
See the Wikipedia page on Mongol military tactics and organization for more detailed explanation.
His military unit sizes were based on factors of 10:
- Arban (10 people)
- Zuun (100)
- Mingghan (1000)
- Tumen (10,000)
- The arban [unit of ten warriors] is its own council
- The ten noyat [officers] of the arban form the council of the zuun [unit of one hundred warriors]
- The ten noyat of the zuun form the council of the mingghan [unit of one thousand warriors]
- The ten noyat of the mingghan form the council of the tumen [unit of ten thousand warriors]
- The noyan [generals, princes, commanders of ten thousand warriors] form the council of the Khan
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