IMPERIAL NOMADS: A History of Central Asia, 500-1500 A.D. by Luc Kwanten

IMPERIAL NOMADS: A History of Central Asia, 500-1500 A.D.

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A comprehensive history of Central Ash has not been attempted for some decades, not since the late R. Grousset gave us his now classic, but somewhat dated, Empire of the Steppes. The magnitude of such an undertaking may be indicated by the fact that the primary sources are to be found in virtually every language written throughout the Eurasian land-mass during the millenium concerned: Byzantine Greek is no less relevant than Tibetan, Arabic no less relevant than Chinese. Consequently, no one--not even so gifted a linguist as Kwanten--can work in this area without some reliance on secondary materials, with the result that specialists will always have something to gripe about. This, however, should not blind us to the overall excellence of Imperial Nomads. The amount of material Kwanten has gathered together is extraordinary, and no less extraordinary is the skill with which he has woven it into a single whole. The text covers all the major incursions of Turkic and Mongol peoples into Europa, the Middle East, and China, with particular attention to the cataclysmic history of Genghis Khan and his successors. Kwanten's analyses of economic and political conditions constitute a real advance over previous efforts. Nonetheless, the general reader without some background in the area may be overwhelmed by the mass of detail. To supply that background there is still nothing better than the dated, but marvelously readable, works of R. Grousset.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press