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Publisher's Summary

The Mongol Empire was the largest empire the world has ever seen, forged by conquests across Eurasia in the 13th and 14th centuries. Yet despite the unparalleled brutality of the Mongols, they played a key role in launching civilization’s evolution into the modern world. In 24 half-hour lectures delivered by award-winning teacher and historian Craig Benjamin of Grand Valley State University, explore the paradox of the Mongols’ extreme barbarity combined with their enlightened religious attitudes and respect for high civilization, in The Mongol Empire.  

Professor Benjamin recounts the life of the most notorious Mongol of all, Chinggis Khan (also spelled Genghis Khan). He details the careers of other Great Khans, including Qubilai, Ogedai, Batu, and Hulagu, plus the saga of the last of the celebrated Mongol conquerors, Timur, also known as Tamerlane. You learn about the prehistoric origins of the Mongol nomads, the secret of Mongol military prowess, the Mongols’ remote capital of Karakorum, and the many great cities and empires they sacked in a virtually unbroken string of victories stretching from Hungary to China.  

Even today, the Mongol conquerors are almost as shrouded in mystery as they were for the victims of their sudden raids. Yet their empire was crucial to the fate of the religions of Islam and Orthodox Christianity and to the civilization of China. Plus, the long period of stability they brought to Central Asia opened the door to dependable commercial and cultural ties between Europe and East Asia. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2020 The Great Courses (P)2020 The Teaching Company, LLC

What listeners say about The Mongol Empire

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  • Calvin M.
  • 2020-10-01

Well Summarized but lacking human touch

A great summary of Mongolian emperial history, but I was hoping to learn more about the day to day life of Mongolians. How they lived, what they ate, maybe more about the life off the battlefield and away from politics.

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  • K. Cullen
  • 2020-10-12

Good Info, Terrible Chinese Pronunciation

The lecturer is engaging and knows his material, however his pronunciation of Chinese cities, places, and people is horrible. I would have thought that having studied the Mongols as extensively as he has, he would have learned how to read Pinyin or at least learned the proper way to say these names.

To call the deliberate rape and holding of concubines as political hostages as one man (Chinggis Khan) being very sexually active seems incredibly disingenuous and takes away from the Mongol story and historical impact.

The further I get in this history, the more disappointed I am with the narrator and the information presented. The same points are presented many times over in slightly different words. The impacts of Mongol policy on the folks living under them is almost ignored and seems to take a lot of liberty looking at the motivations and thoughts of the Mongols. The author says very little in many words.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-09-22

Well Done.

An excellent study of the history and the impact of the Mongols. It is a good narrative, and thought provoking. This study also provides different points of views from modern historians, and people who lived at the time. I found the course lively, entertaining, and mind expanding. Well done!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2021-01-13

Well worth the time

This is one of the longer courses I have listened too and I got to say I loved it. Very in-depth and good information I didn’t know. A through summary of the people. I particularly liked how he broke up the empire into each section and gave it a good analysis. Also the follow up at the end was very good. Benjamin is a good lecturer and thus easy to listen too. Would get another course from him.

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  • mowry4875
  • 2021-01-09

Great Intro to Mongol history, energetic lecturer

This was my first detailed exposure to the Mongol Empire over the many centuries, and its profound impact, both incredibly destructive and also liberating for trade and cultural intermingling in the long term. I felt like Professor Craig Benjamin was a very enthusiastic and energetic speaker. I'm so used to voice actors narrating audiobooks - its refreshing to hear the actual content creator also deliver the material himself.

Incredibly educational, with a balanced perspective of the many different ramifications of the spread of the Mongol nomads from their steppes into China, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and India. It's truly breathtaking how fierce and dominant their horsemanship and warfare skills were, allowing them to crush rivals and then ruthlessly put entire cities to the sword without mercy, men, women, children, even pets, if the cities did not surrender. It's hard to imagine in our modern world such ferocity and bloodlust that we fortunately do not witness on a such a large scale in the modern world. And yet their conquered territories paved the way for a surge in trade, cultural exchange, and tolerance for different religions before Islam came to dominate the later khanates.

And of the course the centuries-long ties with the various Chinese dynasties are also described in great deal. It is again hard to imagine that nomadic warriors once dominated much of China for centuries, but then assimilated to a large degree, changing both cultures in the process.

If anything, this course whetted my appetite for more of these Great Courses on history. Well done!