IN SEARCH OF GENGHIS KHAN by Tim Severin

IN SEARCH OF GENGHIS KHAN

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Reflecting that peculiarly British enthusiasm for travel and adventure in distant and usually inclement climes, veteran writer and traveler Severin (Tracking Marco Polo, 1986, etc.) went to Mongolia ``to see how much of the traditional way of life survived.'' Having written a thesis at Oxford on the first Europeans to venture into Central Asia during the great Mongol Empires of the 13th and 14th centuries, Severin was delighted when asked in the late 1980's to visit Mongolia. Once closed to Westerners, the country was now, with the collapse of Communism, welcoming Occidental visitors. The authorities were particularly interested in Severin participating in a projected, but subsequently deferred, epic ride on Mongolian horses to mark the 800th birthday of Genghis Khan. This ride would replicate journeys that Mongolian couriers regularly made in the Middle Ages from Mongolia to France. On his two visits to Mongolia, Severin visited the remote birthplace of Genghis Khan; traveled with Mongolian nomads on horseback over part of the conqueror's route through the mountainous regions of this large but thinly populated country, where summer is brief and winter brutal; encountered a plague-ridden marmot in a region where bubonic plague is endemic, confirming his belief that the Mongols were responsible for introducing the devastating disease to Europe; and met an ancient shaman whose existence testified to the continuing legacy of Genghis Khan. Ultimately, Severin concluded that, despite nearly 70 years of Communist rule, much of the old ways still remain. Rich in information and insight: a vivid portrait of a little- known people who, once the scourge of Europe, rode--on the remarkable horses whose descendants they still ride today--in pursuit of empire as far as the outer gates of Vienna. Travel writing at its best. (Photographs--16 pages b&w, 8 pages color--not seen.)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-689-12134-2
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1992




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