Genghis Khan was the founder of the Mongol Empire, the largest continuous land empire ever. On his death in 1227, this extended from the Near East to the Yellow Sea, and was expanded by his successors to include what is now Iran, Iraq and southern Russia. By 1206, Genghis Khan had completed the unification by conquest of all the tribes of Mongolia, and was acclaimed as universal Khan. He then launched his assault on Northern China. Peking was captured in 1215, and the Chin were finally subjugated by Genghis's successors in 1234. This is the definitive biography.
The 13th century was the Mongol century in world history, when pastoral horsemen from the deserts of Central Asia established an empire that extended from the Danube to the Yellow Sea. Ratchnevsky, one of the foremost living Mongol historians, draws upon Mongol, Chinese, Persian, and English sources to produce what may well be the definitive biography of Genghis Khan, the man responsible for unifying the scattered Mongol tribes into an empire-building nation. Originally published in German as Cinggis-Khan: Sein Leben und Wirken in 1983, the book was longer and weighed down with documentation of interest to the most specialized readers only. The present English version is still heavy reading, but Haining, former U.K. Ambassador to Mongolia, has done much to extend its appeal with skillful translation, reorganization, and abridging. While this book is quite similar in scope and style to Leo Hartog's Genghis Khan: Conqueror of the World ( LJ 1/90), I would give a nod to the Ratchnevsky volume for its readability.-- John H. Boyle, California State Univ., Chico