Genghis Khan: Emperor of All Men
By Harold Lamb
Published in 1927
Thibault’s Score: 2/5
This book is a narrative history of Genghis Khan. In a style typical of historians of his time, Lamb imagines what life for Genghis Khan must have been like, and writes in a descriptive style. This reads like a fiction book - which is where the problems come from. When Lamb is unsure what happened, then he substitutes facts for imagination.
I’ve read many books by Harold Lamb, so roughly knew what to expect. I was hoping that there would be more discussion of sources, historiography, and archeology. However, as with many early 20th century history books, that is perhaps too much to expect.
Genghis Khan: Emperor of All Men constantly referenced World War I. Unlike early 21st century readers, who are completely unfamiliar with war, this book was written by someone with an intimate first person impression of World War I. As a result, this biography does a good job at recalling the genocide, war crimes, and attrocities commited by the Mongols. Many of the more modern history of Mongols are written by Mongolophiles, and tend to gloss over the more unsavory parts of Mongol history.
The most interesting historical detail that Harold Lamb continuously recalls is the sheer consistency of Mongol law. Despite the brutality of the conquerors, their laws were strictly enforced and always consistent.
I do not recommend this book, even to Mongolophiles.
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