Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World - Jack Weatherford This was quite interesting without being very interesting, unfortunately. Theres a lot of cool bits and pieces, but they're thrown off a bit off-hand. The Mongols, we're told, established a common currency and universities, but how did that currency actually function, and what did those universities look like? The book seems to lay out the theory, without giving any examples or going into the details. What was going on in practice? What was the shape of the gap?

Secondly, while I usually prefer history that's on the far ends of the scale of personal-social, I wish the middle hadn't been so neglected here. There's quite a lot of on society, technology and economics (if not nearly enough) and A LOT on the personal life of Genghis Khan, but the actual history of the empire is kind of brushed over. (Possibly because it's not very complementary.) Theres a few examples of clever Mongolian warmaking, and then something like "And then they conquered a whole bunch of other places also." (Defeats - like Ein Jalut - go amusingly undetailed.) Or "...and then the Ming were in power."

I suppose this is to go with the unabashed positive angle, but it kind of ends up being less a history of the Mongol empire and more "Mongolian stuff that was pretty cool," with big gaps. He blames the Mongol's bad rep entirely on Tamerlane. (Now eagerly awaiting the revisionist history of Tamerlane. "There was a great deal of architectural innovation in those piles of skulls. Which weren't that big.")

Also, I wish he had been more transparent about the sources. Theres notes at the end of the book, but no note-markers in the text itself, which makes it a pain to look up something specific while reading. He also almost always gives just a sort of final draft of conclusions, without revealing any arguments or inconsistencies that must be bouncing around there, and I suspect would have been fascinating.

Still, it's an interesting perspective and I learned a lot of new stuff, even if in a very broad outline sort of way. Things like the Black Death in Asia, the Khawarizmians, the origins of the Golden Horde and so on. Things that are always somehow out of the picture, so recommended for that while mostly frustratedly thinking that things are more complex here than the book encompasses.