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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

Average Customer Ratings
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

5 people found this helpful

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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.

4 people found this helpful

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Quick paced but still worthwhile

This is structured worse than McInerney or Brier or many of the other Great Courses lecturers, and Craig Benjamin is fascinated but he still jumps topic to topic and skims over people very quickly. Whole course felt rushed, but if you want to learn about the Mongols, it's 100% still worth listening to. Quality is solid, and I learned a ton of history and empires in what felt like a brief period of time (roughly 1200-1400 for 75% of the class). Topic doesn't have a ton of choices, but this is a worthwhile first stop. Planning on reading Jack Weatherfords Genghis Khan and Making of the Modern World after listening

3 people found this helpful

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The Lecture on the Mongols I've been looking for

I've long had a fascination with the Mongols, and while I'm quite the fan of Professor Kenneth Harl's lectures, I found that his "Barbarian Empires of The Steppe" series (also from The Great Courses) just didn't scratch my itch on the matter. These lectures have now satisfied that issues. Professor Benjamin goes into great detail on the Mongols, in both peace and war, and speaks with enthusiasm and experience of their homeland. He gives a level headed perspective of the Mongol legacy, both as brutal conquerors and as tolerant overlords. Asides from two quite out of place non sequiturs (one on the history and significance of Baghdad, the contents of which he had already spoken practically verbatim in a previous lecture, and another on the culture and ethos of Japanese samurai, which was only tangential to the course matter), the narrative was compelling and quite easy to follow. Give these lectures a serious listen, and you'll walk away infinitely more knowledgeable of The Mongols, those destroyers of empires, those unitors of East and West

1 person found this helpful

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Nothing exciting here.

Mongols attack town; people surrender; Mongols cut their heads off anyway. different Mongol leaders. Results the same.

1 person found this helpful

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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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!

1 person found this helpful

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weird pronounciation, repetition of myths

Term "bushido" came to use in early 20th century for nationalistic purposes and the values it represent is an application of Western values to Japanese past. https://www.tofugu.com/japan/bushido/
This whole part was just a repetition of myths for purpose I cannot undestand as this was supposed to be lectures about the Mongols not the Japanese.

The pronounciation is indeed bad. I'm quite sceptical that it's only Australian accent in play when it comes how much "agressive" accent was put into every Japanese word (from Asian names mentioned I only speak Japanese so that's why I'm mentioning only this).

I get that these lectures are more about military history more than anything but personally I would love to hear more about Mongol women and in which ways they had it better than others. Because I'm only told that it was better for them and that Empresses ruled in their husbands absence but then other high born women could be sacrificed at funeral ceremonies? I'm not saying I don't belive women's condition was better but I would be glad for more arguments confirming this.

I have learned a lot about Mongols from this and have no issue regarding the order of information (though it does get confusing in later part due to how many political struggles were happening simulateously) but this course would do way better with a bit more effort on pronounciation and the bushido thing left a very bad aftertaste. It's something I expect anime weebs to repeat, not a scholar specialized in the area.

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Really wonderful experience

Overall, just a great course on Mongol Empire. Can easily see how much of Game of Thrones horsemen were based on Mongol customs including a killing that involved molten metal.

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wow

the great courses are just incredible!!! power packed info and makes you feel like attending class over and over again. the insight definitely makes you see the world differently.

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  • Dennis Sommers
  • 11-03-21

Superb work!

I have just read three audiobooks on aspects of theMongols and this course is the best, in that it deals with the material covered by the other three in a manner that makes me regret having wasted time on the others.
Uniquely of the four productions, we get the historical background into which the Mongols precipitated themselves and their common culture and society so that we understand that they didn’t just come from nowhere.
The lecturer is balanced in his evaluations of Mongol achievements , citing other expert opinions , and his mmaterial is detailed, comprehensive and crisplydelivered.
It is quite clear that the lecturer loves his subject and gives an up-to-date account of present-day Mongolia that inspires me to visit and see. Superb work!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Duncan Delaporte
  • 02-13-21

interesting expose ..

Excellent ,,a little repetitive in parts ..

Presenter could be a bit more unrushed..

overal conclusion iffy..on wolf impact ?

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-20-20

Pros and Khan's

I really enjoyed this course. The lecturer was informed and interesting, with good prose and emotion in his voice.

The content of the course was accessible and easy to understand.

The background to the Empires and the Mongol legacy was key to understanding how they became so effective, innovative, intelligent, strong and devastating.

If a little one sided it is still informative. A truly crucial piece of history that helps to contextualise how these great and terrifying people influenced how we love today.

It is clearly sad to see why the Uighars and other minorities in China are so persecuted.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-03-20

detailed narrative but extremely biased

Excellent account of Mongol imperial history, delivered with great passion. Benjamin is clearly a lover and expert of the material but this comes through on occasion in a negative light. Analysis of events is often tilted to favour Mongols and hence ignores other viewpoints, failing to give a balanced analysis. It sometimes feels as though Benjamin is trying to sell me a product.

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  • Mr D G Woodcock
  • 08-10-20

amazing

Really enjoyable throughout. Made my commute so much more enjoyable. The pace was excellent and engaging at all times.

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  • The hon Paul Randolph - Welsby
  • 08-01-20

Hum

I am one of the educationally deprived - having been shoved into a Comprehensive school of 2500 thugs - that is not to say I was a wilting flower - simply that my primary education was at a CofE shoebox with only 100 children and I knew all their names and enjoyed their company.

Now I am retired I want to understand all those things that fascinated me throughout my adult life - no better way for me fo do this than listening to the great courses lectures.

So why the low ratings ?

American accents make me cringe - especially that creepy Californian twang - but this is an Australian lecturer I hear you cry - I had to slow him down in order to make him a more acceptable Australian - I think he has spent to long in the good 'ol yippee ky Trumpland.

But what he has to say is grippimg

Good Luck

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  • paul south
  • 07-22-20

exellent , well presented . moves a little quick

exellent , well presented . moves a little quick
makes me want to travel the silk Road.

1 person found this helpful