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Mongolia Book List

    This bibliography is divided into four sections: The Mongol Khans and the Mongol Empire, General Mongolian History (including socio-cultural topics), Modern Mongolia, and well researched Historical Fiction set in or relating to Mongolia:

The Mongol Khans and their Empire

The Adventures of Ibn Battuta: A Muslim Traveller of the 14th Century by Ross E. Dunn
        University of California Press, 1990; ISBN: 0520067436
This is not a translation of the writings of Ibn Battuta (an important primary source) but rather a good and highly readable synthesis of his 24 years of travel.  While predominantly a vision of the many cultures of the Islamic world of the fourteenth century, Dunn also details Battuta's travels in the steppe lands of southern Russia and in Yuan dynasty China.

Daily Life in China, on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion, 1250-1276 by Jacques Gernet
        1962; ISBN: 0804707200
A well-detailed and extensively footnoted account of the thirteenth century Chinese, including sections on city life, social class, housing, cooking, personal grooming, as well as births, marriage, and death rituals, and yearly social and religious festivals.

The Devil's Horsemen  by James Chambers
        Cassell, 1988; ISBN: 0304321885
Chambers writes about the Mongolian invasion of Eastern Europe telling the story from the Mongol perspective with rich details of Mongolian cavalry tactics and battle strategies.  I wonderfully concise and detailed military history of a fascinating people who conquered Asia and the Middle East and very nearly conquered the West as well.

Genghis Khan by R. P. Lister
        Cooper Square Press, 2000; ISBN: 0815410522
This book based on the Secret History of the Mongols, the one early primary source for Mongolian history, is an easily readable account of the early life and rise to power of Genghis Khan who forged the largest empire the world has ever seen.

Genghis Khan: Emperor of All Men by Harold Lamb
        International Collectors Library, Doubleday Books, Garden City, N.Y., 1927;  OCLC #2974015
Although it reads like pop history or historical fiction, Lamb's biography of the Great Khan is informative and contains an good (if somewhat outdated) bibliography.

Kublai Khan: His Life and Times by Morris Rossabi
        University of California Press, 1990; ISBN: 0520067401
Rossabi is one of the foremost Mongolian scholars today and this is a wonderfully readable, yet highly referenced, biography of Kublai Khan.  Rossabi has complied impressive references and numerous otherwise un-reported details from English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, and Mongol sources.  A valuable reference for the scholar and layman alike.

Mongols (Osprey Men-At-Arms Series, 105) by Stephen Turnbull
        Osprey Pub Co., 1986; ISBN: 0850453720
Written for wargamers this volume, although frustratingly limited and a tertiary source, is based in excellent research and has wonderful illustrations and beautiful illustrative plates.   A good starting place for research on the Mongol empire despite no useful bibliography.

The Mongols (Peoples of Europe Series)by David Morgan
        Blackwell Pub., 1990; ISBN: 0631175636
An extensive account not only of the events of the Mongol conquests, but also of the development of the study of Mongolian history and culture.  Morgan is one of the foremost Mongol scholars today and this title is a necessary read for anyone interested in understanding the military career of Chingis (Genghis) Khan.

Russia and the Golden Horde: The Mongol Impact on Medieval Russian History by Charles J. Halperin
        Indiana University Press, 1987; ISBN: 0253204453
A detailed and scholarly text, Halperin's book is not a quick read.  He covers his subject thoroughly, even to analysis of word etymology, documents, and institutions showing the extent of Mongol influence in Russia.

Secret History of the Mongols: The Origin of Chingis Khan by Paul Kahn, Francis Woodman Cleaves
        Cheng & Tsui Company, 1999; ISBN: 0887272991
This new edition contains the complete text of The Secret History, the 14th century Mongolian account of the life of Chingis Khan and the formation of the Mongol Empire. The book originally appeared in 1984, written in modern American English  for a general audience. In addition to the introductory essay, maps, and genealogy charts of the original, this new edition includes "The Death of Chingis Khan," an elegy passage from the 17th century Mongolian history by Sagang Sechen.

The Secret History of the Mongols: For the First Time Done into English Out of the Original Tongue and Provided With Exegetical Commentary by Francis W. Cleaves (Editor)
        Harvard University Press, 1982; ISBN: 0674796705
The Secret History is the most important primary source on the life and times of Chingis Khan.  This translation by Cleaves, although good from a scholarly point of view, is rendered in an archaic sounding English as an attempt to maintain the epic flavor of the original which, unfortunately, makes it difficult read.

The Story of the Mongols Whom We Call the Tartars: Friar Giovanni Di Plano Carpini's Account of His Embassy to the Court of the Mongol Khan by Da Pian Del Carpine Giovanni, Erik Hildinger (Translator)
        Branden Publishing Co., 1996; ISBN: 0828320179
Friar Carpini was sent by Pope Innocent IV on an embassy to to preach Christianity the Mongols as well as to spy on them.  This is his account of meeting Batu Khan in Russia and then journeying onward to the court of Guyuk Khan.  Hildiger's excellent translation of Carpini's account captures the European attitude toward the steppe nomads.  Carpini's account has become a main primary source for much scholarship on the Mongols and is a valuable resource for any study of the running of the Mongol empire.

Storm from the East: From Genghis Khan to Khublai Khan by Robert Marshall
        University of California Press, Berkley, 1993; ISBN 0-520-08300-8
Companion volume to a documentary television series by the same name, this is a good chronological history of the rise of the Mongol empire and the effect it had on both Asia and the Western world.

The Travels of Marco Poloby Marco Polo (translator unknown)
        Orion Press, New York, 1958;  LC CARD #58-7921
This Book of the Month Club edition is a fairly easy read and a reasonably good translation of Marco Polo's journeys through Asia and experiences at the court of Kublai Khan.

The Travels of Marco Polo the Venetiantranslated and edited by William Marsden, re-edited by Thomas Wright
         International Collectors Library, Doubleday Books, Garden City, N.Y., 1948; LC CARD #48001544
This is a very readable if somewhat dry translation of Polo's travels to and life in the court of Kublai Khan.



Modern Mongolia

The Changing World of Mongolia's Nomads by Melvyn Goldstein and Cynthia Beall
        University of California Press, Berkeley, 1994; ISBN: 0520085515
A fascinating anthropological look at the influences of Communism and twentieth century economics on the nomadic lifestyle of the Mongols by authors who've lived among them.

The Marvelous Mongolian by James Aldridge
        Little, Brown and Co., 1974; ISBN: 0-316-03120-8
Horses are intrinsic to Mongolian culture, and this is the story of one young wild Mongolian mountain stallion brought to Wales to mate with a gentle Shetland pony and their incredible journey back home as it is told in letters between a Welsh girl and a Mongol boy who both love horses.

Women of Mongolia by Martha Avery
        Avery Press, 1996; ISBN: 0937321052
A collection of photos, interviews, and anecdotes highlighting the changing roles of women in Mongolia today.



General Mongolian History and Culture

Attila and the Nomad Hordes : Warfare on the Eurasian Steppes 4th-12th Centuries (Osprey Elite Series, No. 30) by David Nicolle, Angus McBride (Illustrator)
        Osprey Pub Co., 1998; ISBN: 0850459966
Osprey books primarily written for at wargamers and packed with artwork, but limited in scope.  This one is well written and researched for a tertiary source.  The author includes some fascinating cultural details about the Huns.  A good starting place for research ideas, but sadly no useful bibliography.

The First Horsemen (Time-Life Emergence of Man Series) by Frank Trippett et al.
        Time-Life Books, 1974; ISBN:  705400646
Secondary source, but a good overview of the history of the horse in Central Asia from the Scythians through the present day Mongols.  Great illustrations, many of period manuscripts.

March of the Barbarians by Harold Lamb
        Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc., 1941;  LCCN 41006355
Although Lamb's scholarship is sometimes disputed, his work on Central Asian cultures was some of the first in English.  This text covers the Scythians through the Mongols in a very readable informative way discussing nomadic lifestyles and culture.

Nomads of Eurasia by Vladimir N. Basilov (Editor), Mary Fleming Zirin (Translator), et al
        University of Washington Press, 1989; ISBN: 0295968168, (pbk.) 029596815X (hdc.)
Catalog and text for the traveling exhibition: Nomads, which visited the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, California, February-April 1989, the Denver Museum of Natural History, Denver, Colorado, June-September 1989, and the U.S. National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., November 1989-February 1990.  Text covers the history ancient Scythia through modern Mongolia with pictures from the exhibit in a look at jewelry and decorative arts as well as domestic goods and housewares.

Mongol Costume

Chinese Textile Masterpieces of the Sung, Yuan and Ming Dynasties by Stephen McGuiness, Sae Ogasawara, and Mitsuru Urigami
        Plum Blossom Limited, Hong Kong, 1988.
This is the catalog for an exhibit of textiles belonging to McGuinness, shown in Hong Kong, fall 1988, which is particularly impressive for those interested in weaving and embroidery patterns for the daily wear of the upper classes during the Mongol ruled medieval China.

Mongol Costume by Henny Harald Hanson
        The Carlsberg Foundation's Nomad Research Project, Thames & Hudson, 1993; ISBN: 0-500-01585-6
An anthropologic survey of Mongol costumes, mostly 20th century, but with nice examples of the elaborate padded shoulders and horseshoe cuffs showing the Manchu influences of the 17th century and later.

National Costumes of the Mongolian People's Republic edited by B. Sodnom
        State Publishing House Ulan Baator, 1967.
A collection of plates by the National Artist and State Prize winner, U. Yadamusuren, depicting the national dress and accessories of the various tribes, including the Khalka, Buryat, Torgut, Barga, Dorbet, Dariganga, Uzumchin, Uryankhaits, Khotan, Minghat, Sakhchin, Darkhat, Olot, and Khazakh.

When Silk was Gold: Central Asian and Chinese Textiles by James C. Watt and Anne E. Wardwell
        The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998; ISBN: 0-87099-827-7 (pbk), 0-87099-825-0 (hdc)
Catalog from an exhibit of textiles reflecting the trade along the Silk Road from Tang times through the Mongol empire.  Includes an informative essay Morris Rossabi on the development and impact of the silk industry in China and Central Asia.

Mongol Culture

Mongolian Folktales by Hilary Roe Metternich (Editor), Norovsambuugin Baatartsog (illustrator)
        Avery Press, 1996; ISBN: 0-93732-106-0
A wonderful collection of traditional folktales beautifully illustrated by intricate freehand cut, black paper silhouettes.

Riding Windhorses: A Journey into the Heart of Mongolian Shamanism by Sarangerel Odigan
        Destiny Books, 2000; ISBN: 0-892818085
There is very little written in English about Mongolian animistic religious practice, so although a bit "New Age" this is an important book which presents Mongol shamanism from a cultural and "hands-on" perspective.

Mongolian Language

Colloquial Mongolian: The Complete Course for Beginners by Alan J. Sanders and Jantsangiin Bat-Ireedui
        Routledge, 1999; ISBN: 0415167140
Beginning with pronunciation of Mongolian Cyrillic, this guide teaches Mongolian with dialog in increasing levels of difficulty that discusses aspects of Mongolian culture from the layout of a ger to bits from The Secret History of the Mongols.

Lonely Planet Mongolian Phrasebook by J. Bat-Ireediu, Jantsangiyn Bat-Ireedui, Alan J. Sanders
        Lonely Planet, 1995; ISBN: 086442308X
Not only does this offer a selection of useful phrases for the Mongolian traveler, it has, as do all Lonely Planet books a variety of tips on Mongolian culture.



Historical Fiction

The Earth Is the Lord's: A Tale of the Rise of Genghis Khan by Taylor Caldwell
        Scribner, New York, 1941; currently out of print
The book covers the early life of the great conqueror, focusing primarily on characters: his stern and indomitable mother, the cynical and outcast uncle who educates him, his manipulative wife Bortei, the boyhood friends who become his generals and paladins, and his blood brother Jamuga, who is both his dearest friend and bitterest enemy.

I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade by Diane Lee Wilson
        Harper Trophy, 1999; ISBN: 006440773X
Story of a young Mongolian girl and how she overcomes a crippling handicap by becoming a great horsewoman.  Written as juvenile fiction, but very enjoyable for adults as well.

Orlok by Don Dandrea
        currently out of print (paperback edition title: The Snow Warrior also OOP)
A fictionalized account of Subotai Bahadur, the greatest general of Chingis Khan, includes good historic details of the Mongol invasions of China and the West, as well as some greatly fictionalized versions of him traveling in India.

Marco Polo by Keith Miles and David Butler
        Dell Publishing Co., 1982; ISBN: 0-44015754-4
While a bit over dramatic in places and with far more romance than necessary, this text (which is based on the screenplay for the six-hour miniseries of the same name) is far more readable than many of the translations of Marco Polo's work and gives a good feel for the intricacies of the Mongol court.

Until the Sun Falls by Cecelia Holland
        Atheneum, 1969; currently out of print (trade paperback reprint, 2000, ISBN: 0595007996
Superbly researched, as are all Holland's books, this is the story of Psin Khan, a Merkit Mongol general, through his involvement in the military campaigns in Russia and Europe, and in his familial relations.  Wonderfully vivid images of life, and death, among the Mongol Hordes.


See other topical Bibliographies: the China Book list & the Japan Book list

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