by Jack Weatherford
Okay, I'm obsessed with the Mongol Empire. Otherwise, why would I write a novel about a princess who lived in that era? But this book really captured my imagination.
Most of us think of "barbarians" and "plunder" when we hear the words "Mongol" or "Genghis Khan." But did you know that Genghis Khan gave power to his daughters? While he and his sons were off with the army, conquering lands far more advanced than Mongolia, he left the already-conquered lands under the control of his wives and daughters. Yes, he married off his daughters to allied kings and princes; but once he did, he stripped the husbands of their titles and gave the real authority to his daughters. He gave them the title of "Princess Who Runs the State." One of these daughters, says Jack Weatherford, a Macalaster College anthropology professor, governed so well that she even "invented the cultural and organization model that grew into the Mongol Empire."
Wow! After all the research I did for Daughter of Xanadu, I knew that Mongolian women were strong, learned archery from a young age, and sometimes rode off to battle with their husbands. The Secret History of the Mongols tells of many female ancestors who showed great fortitude. But governing? I never knew that.
This book of history - not fiction! - tells some fascinating tales. I wonder if Emmajin knew all these stories?
You can find out more at the Random House website.