The Mongol Storm: Making and Breaking Empires in the Medieval Near East

Basic. Nov. 2022. 448p. ISBN 9781541616301. $35. HIST
With powerful prose, Morton (history, Nottingham Trent Univ.; The Crusader States and Their Neighbors) leads readers through the complicated affairs of the medieval Near East (from the Caspian and Aral Seas to Constantinople and Hungary) in the 13th century as the Mongol Horde swept over its lands, destroying every army it met and disrupting existing power relations. It starts with Chinggis (Genghis) Khan in 1218 and ends half a century after the death of Qubilai (Kublai) Khan in 1353, with the breakup of the Mongol Empire into four khanates fighting among themselves. At its peak, it was the largest contiguous land empire known. Some of the names discussed may not be familiar to readers—Khwaramzians, Ayyubid Muslims, Mamluks, Anatolian Seljuks, Cilician Armenians, and Frankish Crusaders. But these were some of the power players in small to large states in the medieval Middle East, where Mongol pressure continuously overturned things. A virtue of Morton’s book is that it doesn’t simplify anything but makes the most complicated parts understandable.
VERDICT For anyone who loves history, especially with military and diplomatic focuses.
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