Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Get Your Genghis On

Genghis Khan – His Conquests, His Empire, His Legacy – Frank McLynn (DaCapo Press)

By the shear scope of the undertaking at hand, author Frank McLynn started out with a task that even an army of researchers and writers could not have powered through writing a definitive biography of a man who has been labeled everything from the greatest conqueror in history to the worst, most evil murderer of all-time, with some crediting him with tens of millions of deaths.

The hundred pages of endnotes clearly illustrates the efforts that McLynn put forth in penning Genghis Khan – His Conquests, His Empire, His Legacy. Practically right from birth, Genghis Khan was surrounded by a level of violence that he carried into adulthood as he led a band of nomadic warriors into a blood soaked, brutal and merciless rein over a huge geographic territory.

McLynn tries mightily to synthesize what amount to four decades of research and scholarly opinion on how Khan overcame his lack of masterful intellect by blunt force to rule with an iron fist. While certainly a yeoman’s effort, the voluminous nature of the subject is hard to encapsulate in one book.

On the Trail of Genghis Khan – An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads – Tim Cope (Bloomsbury)

What would motivate a seemingly level-headed, intelligent, then 24 year old man to put his basically normal life, whatever that might be these days, and drop himself headlong into what can only be described as a foolhardy adventure across treacherous and life-threatening terrain on his own?

Just to further make the case; we are talking about a self-admitted novice horseman, and novice may give him too much credit, who want to set off on a self-guided trek across 6000 miles of the most inhospitable trails, through some of the most brutal weather extremes on what he labeled the Trail of Genghis Khan.

It is that adventure tail that Tim Cope not only undertook, but he details in On the Trail of Genghis Khan – An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads. It is nearly impossible to comprehend the distance and the extremes that Cope subjected himself to during this under-funded, flying by the seat of his pants journey that took up three years of his young life to complete.

Cope focuses not so much on the extremis nature of the trek, but more so on the kindness of strangers he encountered; more than one of who may have saved his life. With the nearly insurmountable odds stacked against him, this is a tale of high adventure, survival and triumph and isn’t that reason enough to undertake the journey?


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