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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.

6 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

4 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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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

2 people found this helpful

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Good Followup to Jack Weatherford

I've been interested in the Mongol Empire since listening to the Jack Weatherford 'trilogy'. While those books are obviously still my favorites on the topic this is the best followup I've listened to on here so far (out of like 3 other Mongol Empire books). I think it's better to listen to or read Jack Weatherford's books first not only because they're the best (some of my favorite history books in general) but because they make the names of characters more approachable in a mostly linear telling of the story. You'll get to know the characters more in those books, but in this you'll hear more about a lot of the same individuals. These Great Courses lectures are the perfect followup because they give you more names and add more detail to a lot of events in the Jack Weatherford books, even citing parts of Weatherford's books in some of the lectures.

And also something I liked about these Great Courses lectures was a lot of the Timur the Lame portions near the end which aren't really in the Jack Weatherford books. I had been looking for more books about Timur the Lame but a lot of the books in English are ancient themselves. Definitely listen to this series if you enjoyed the Weatherford books.

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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    3 out of 5 stars

Too much jumping around

While I have no doubt Prof. Benjamin is very knowledgeable, he jumps around in time periods too much for it to be easy to follow. If I were taking a course, with notes I’d look back over later, that might not bother me, and might even make more sense, but I’m this venue, it’s just distracting and a bit confusing. He’ll say things like “this person did that, and we’ll discuss that in more detail later, but the important point is that X.” By the time he discussed it later, I remember that there is an important point, but I’ve forgotten exactly what it was.

His phrasing is also somewhat odd. He tends to speak quickly for 20-30 seconds, then take a breath or two, often in the middle of a sentence, after having almost run two sentences together. If I were sitting in his class, I might not even have noticed it. But since I am only listening, it’s a bit off-putting.

Definitely a worthwhile course, but not the most pleasant experience I’ve had with the Great Courses.

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lecturer lies

the lecturer lies. he knows he lies. I don't understand why he wants to prop up a brutal slave trading society as an egalitarian society (his words) but he does. thus, he lies. enjoy wasting your time with this modernist revisionist lies.

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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

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-20-22

To many names

The information was to rapid to be able to follow easily . Some information re Gengis missing

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  • Emad Malik
  • 09-15-22

An amazing tale of the Mongol Empire

Beautifully narrated history of the great Khan. one of the best audiobooks, I've listened. I binged on the audiobook and finished it in 3 days as the stories were fascinating and insightful.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-04-22

Interesting!

So very interesting. I too shared the presenters enthusiasm! Well worth listening to at any age!

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  • alex
  • 07-18-22

The Mongol empire

Excellent listening really enjoyed this tittle Will listen to it again to take in all the information

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