Author: Sam Djang

Publisher: ­­­ New Horizon Books

ISBN: 978 0 984 6187

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According to the fact sheet of this book, its author, Sam Djang, took eight years to research and to write it. Although the biography is written in the form of a historical novel, “ and yet 90% of its content are based on the sensible, true history.” Furthermore, this book “covers many facts which the majority of past historians had failed to see due to their lack of understanding of the unique cultural, social, political, historical and geometrical background of the people of Genghis Khan.”

I cannot understand why the author refuses to make the effort to fill in the remaining 10% so as to write a historical biography instead of a historical novel about Genghis Khan. In order not to confuse the readers, I must add right away that there is another spelling of the name of the Khan: Chinggis, and Khan is of course the title of the ruler of the Mongols.

At any rate, the author succeeds in presenting a readable novel, if not a bit tedious, too long. More than 800 pages of accounts of battles, of attacks and counterattacks, of marriage alliances and betrayals, of battlefields and massacres, of submission and rebellion cannot help but elicit in the readers a certain taste of dreariness. Fortunately the author from time to time enlivened his text with short explanations of all the foreign words, mostly Mongolian ones, or of social, economic, and political institutions particular to the steppes of Mongolia or of neighboring countries. These explanations probably constitute the answers to what the author considers as the misunderstanding of foreign scholars writing about Mongolian issues.

The narration starts with Yesugei. “They called him Yesugei Bagatur, which meant Yesugei the Brave. Bagatur was a title only for the aristocrats.” (p.3) Then around the year 1167 to Yesugei was born a son.

The Mongols used to give the name of an enemy, captive or someone they had killed in battle to their newborn baby or descendants, to celebrate the victory and keep it long in their memory. The victorious Yesugei brought two Tatar prisoners on that day, and one of their names was Temujin, which means “Iron Man.” (page 53)

And so it was the name of the one who died as Genghis Khan, on August 18th, 1227. The sixty years of his life were chronicled in the 800 pages of this book, distributed into 80 chapters most of which relate to his military campaigns.

“It was after the opening of the main gate of Chunghing that the Mongol soldiers learned of the death of Genghis Khan. The Mongol soldiers killed every living thing in that city. Genghis Khan’s last battle was flooded with blood. The whole population of the Shi sha kingdom, presumed to be about seven million, was slaughtered and a nation with 200 years of history, with ten kings in each generation, disappeared from the earth for ever.” page 820.

This last battle of the Khan was not the only one flooded with blood. In fact, practically all of them –too many to count—ended up the same way, and it is the reason why there existed the following reputation : “ When the Mongols troops passed, the mountains became flat and the rivers changed their direction.” (p. 623.) Names of submitted tribes, conquered countries, and shattered dynasties strewed along paths and roads which are drawn on maps of the known world of the time; altogether, they made Genghis Khan worthy of the title conferred upon him by history, that of “world conqueror”, despite the fact that such a vast empire was not realized until the time of his successors.

The author seems to be faithful to his promise of making this book ninety per cent history and only ten per cent novel. To me, that is where lies his shortcoming for what is the point of writing a historical novel which is almost entirely historical? In effect, it is in the nature of historical chronicles to record only deeds of kings or rulers, and events pertaining to armed conflicts instead of details concerning the common people or subtle sentiments of the characters. With such sources material, a historical book would not be able to revive the past of other people than royalties, and other events that those related to wars. And that is precisely what Sam Djang is doing in this book: he wrote everything about Genghis Khan, his parents, his wives, his children, his siblings, adopted siblings, the chiefs he dealt with, the enemy he destroyed, his numerous bloody victories, his strategies, etc…etc…because he wanted his book to be at least 90% “historical.” Had he followed the subtitle of the book and written a “historical novel”, then he would have been entitled to curtail the information about the battles and members of the governing elite, and concentrate rather on the characters’ feelings and emotions, or on the ways and customs, the daily activities, the beliefs and ideas of the common people.

As it is, this book is neither a historical biography of Genghis Khan nor a historical novel about the conqueror of the world.

Click Here To Purchase Genghis Khan Vol 1: The World Conqueror