Justin Marozzi

Genghis Khan was tolerant, kind to women – and a record-breaking mass-murderer

A review of The Mongol Empire: Genghis Khan, His Heirs and the Founding of Modern China, by John Man. The Mongols made China, argues this book, which means it’s unlikely to get a Chinese translation any time soon

Close-up of Genghis towering 40 metres over his home pastures near the Mongol capital, Ulaanbaatar – the world’s biggest equestrian statue [Getty Images/Shutterstock/iStock/Alamy]

Genghis Khan, unlike most Mongols in history, is a household name, regularly misappropriated as a right-wing totem. If we recall the genocidal killing sprees of, say, Stalin and Mao, perhaps it would be more historically accurate to say ‘to the left of Genghis Khan’. In the popular imagination he is the despot’s despot, a one-man killing machine who led his army of mounted archers to triumph after triumph, terrorising and slaughtering by the million to carve out an empire that stretched from the Caspian to the Pacific.

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