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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

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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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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.

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    3 out of 5 stars

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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amazing

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

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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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  • Calvin M.
  • 01-10-20

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.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Dylan Jones
  • 16-03-21

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

2 people found this helpful

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  • K. Cullen
  • 12-10-20

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.

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  • Will Meza
  • 13-01-21

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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  • Anonymous User
  • 22-09-20

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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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-06-21

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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  • Dr A
  • 25-04-21

Excellent history, 1st half great, 2nd less so

A great education of Mongol history, but the second half slides into those long lists of names and dates. And very little on Mongol lifestyle - how they lived, what they ate, their families, etc.

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  • J. Gunderssen
  • 01-04-21

Good Overview of the Mongols

This was a great way for me to learn about the Mongols beyond tales of their devastating pillages and violent conquests. As another reviewer said, it's unfortunate that it doesn't touch on the daily life of the average Mongol citizen very much. Still, it was packed full of good information that will help you understand the Mongol civilization as well as some of the neighboring groups that they interacted with.

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  • mowry4875
  • 09-01-21

Great Intro to Mongol history, energetic lecturer

This was my first detailed exposure to the Mongol Empire over the many centuries, and its profound impact, both incredibly destructive and also liberating for trade and cultural intermingling in the long term. I felt like Professor Craig Benjamin was a very enthusiastic and energetic speaker. I'm so used to voice actors narrating audiobooks - its refreshing to hear the actual content creator also deliver the material himself.

Incredibly educational, with a balanced perspective of the many different ramifications of the spread of the Mongol nomads from their steppes into China, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and India. It's truly breathtaking how fierce and dominant their horsemanship and warfare skills were, allowing them to crush rivals and then ruthlessly put entire cities to the sword without mercy, men, women, children, even pets, if the cities did not surrender. It's hard to imagine in our modern world such ferocity and bloodlust that we fortunately do not witness on a such a large scale in the modern world. And yet their conquered territories paved the way for a surge in trade, cultural exchange, and tolerance for different religions before Islam came to dominate the later khanates.

And of the course the centuries-long ties with the various Chinese dynasties are also described in great deal. It is again hard to imagine that nomadic warriors once dominated much of China for centuries, but then assimilated to a large degree, changing both cultures in the process.

If anything, this course whetted my appetite for more of these Great Courses on history. Well done!