Monday, January 12, 2015

Book Review - The Secret History of the Mongol Queens

In my opinion, the author deserves even more credit for this book than "Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World", simply because historians tend to play down women's contribution to shaping the world in official records. His mere efforts to glue together a chunk of Mongolian history related to women from bits and pieces he uncovered during research deserve commendation. By presenting such important historical facts, he gives readers better insight into Genghis Khan's philosophy about maintaining the correct balance between male and female in the organization of life based on the religion of Mother Earth and the Eternal Blue Sky.

The accounts of life events and political marriages of Genghis Khan's daughters like Alaqai, Al-Altun, Tolai and Tumelun are fascinating, as is the story related to Khutulun (the great great granddaughter of Genghis Khan), the All White Princess who fought like a man alongside her father and who never lost a single wrestling match. Even more gripping is the drama of the gritty circumstances that Queen Manduhai the Wise (a descendant from Genghis Khan's lineage) had to face when she tried to keep a Borijin male heir alive and healthy in order to put him on the throne in a desperate attempt to hold the crumbling Mongol Empire together, and of how she succeeded.

I was amazed to learn in the Epilogue that the Moghul emperor Shah Jahan who built the Taj Mahal was a distant heir of Genghis Khan and Borte, and that the Taj Mahal was designed to resemble a Mongolian "ger" (tent). Another surprise is that the story of the Mongolian princess Khutulun had inspired Francois Petis de la Croix to write a fable with the character "Turandot", which in turn inspired Giacomo Puccini's opera "Turandot" and Friedrich von Schiller's German play "Turandot, Prinzessin von China"!

Weatherford's dramatic narrative makes this book another engrossing read after "Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World".

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