The best books about the Mongol conquest of Western Eurasia

Who am I?

I am an associate professor at Nottingham Trent University and my interest in the Mongols first began many years ago during my MA at Royal Holloway University. I had always been interested in the historic relationships between nomadic and agricultural societies, but what I found fascinating about the Mongols was the sheer speed and range of their expansion—how could they have conquered the greater part of the Asia within only a few decades? Exploring how the Mongols grappled with the realities of ruling such a vast imperium remains a very thought-provoking issue, so too is the question of how the peoples they overthrew accommodated themselves to Mongol rule. 


I wrote...

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

By Nicholas Morton,

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

What is my book about?

The Mongol invasions brought sweeping change to the Near East. Their advancing armies fundamentally reconfigured the region’s political ecosystem. Their soldiers, merchants, and intellectuals brought new ideas and trade goods. Their super-wealthy elites rewired the area’s trade routes, establishing their vast wagon cities as centre points for Eurasian trade. 

The Mongol Storm follows the history of the Mongol conquests from the first whispered rumours of a new power rising far to the northeast, through to the ensuing waves of refugees, marching armies, and finally the imposition of Mongol dominion. It tells this dramatic history from multiple perspectives, exploring how individuals and societies from across the Near East, including the Byzantines, Crusaders, Armenians, Ayyubids, and Seljuk Turks reacted to the tumultuous events of this period.  

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Mongol Empire

Nicholas Morton Why did I love this book?

In this book Timothy May provides an impressive overview of the history of the Mongol Empire. Covering its history from the time of Chinggis Khan through to its decline and including discussion on matters ranging from the Mongols’ warcraft through to their internal politics and economic activities, The Mongol Empire offers a deeply authoritative and accessible overview of research in this field. This is the book I would recommend to anyone seeking a scholarly introduction to this subject. 

By Timothy May,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mongol Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book explores the rise and establishment of the Mongol Empire under Chinggis Khan, as well as its expansion and evolution under his successors. It also examines the successor states (Ilkhanate, Chaghatayid Khanate, the Jochid Ulus (Golden Horde), and the Yuan Empire) from the dissolution of the empire in 1260 to the end of each state.


Book cover of The Horde: How the Mongols Changed the World

Nicholas Morton Why did I love this book?

During the thirteenth century the Mongols advanced on many frontiers, their forces conquering China, much of the Near East, and even crossing the Indus River. One of their most substantial wars of conquest however was in north-western Eurasia where their armies covered enormous distances, ultimately reaching lands as distant as Poland and Hungary. In time, as the Mongol Empire broke apart, this region became a powerful empire in its own right, often referred to by historians as the “Golden Horde,” or in this case “The Horde”. In this book Marie Favereau provides a compelling history of this empire covering its origins, its development and its later history. This account is all the more significant because the Horde has actually received far less attention from scholars than the Mongols’ other territories. 

By Marie Favereau,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Horde as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2021 Cundill History Prize Finalist
A Financial Times Best Book of the Year
A Spectator Best Book of the Year
A Five Books Best Book of the Year

"Outstanding, original, and revolutionary. Favereau subjects the Mongols to a much-needed re-evaluation, showing how they were able not only to conquer but to control a vast empire. A remarkable book."
-Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads

The Mongols are widely known for one thing: conquest. In the first comprehensive history of the Horde, the western portion of the Mongol empire that arose after the death of Chinggis Khan, Marie Favereau shows…


Book cover of Nomads in the Middle East

Nicholas Morton Why did I love this book?

The Mongols only form one part of Nomads in the Middle East which paints on a far broader canvas, looking at the long-term history of relations between nomads and agricultural societies in the Middle East.  Spanning from the seventh century all the way up to the modern era, and discussing peoples as diverse as the Bedouin, the Seljuk Turks, and of course the Mongols, Beatrice Forbes Manz provides an incredible overview of the role played by nomadic societies in shaping this region. For those interested in the Mongols, this book helps us to take a step back and a take panoramic view of their actions within a much longer timeline. 

By Beatrice Forbes Manz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nomads in the Middle East as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A history of pastoral nomads in the Islamic Middle East from the rise of Islam, through the middle periods when Mongols and Turks ruled most of the region, to the decline of nomadism in the twentieth century. Offering a vivid insight into the impact of nomads on the politics, culture, and ideology of the region, Beatrice Forbes Manz examines and challenges existing perceptions of these nomads, including the popular cyclical model of nomad-settled interaction developed by Ibn Khaldun. Looking at both the Arab Bedouin and the nomads from the Eurasian steppe, Manz demonstrates the significance of Bedouin and Turco-Mongolian contributions…


Book cover of The Mongols and the Islamic World: From Conquest to Conversion

Nicholas Morton Why did I love this book?

As the Mongol Empire expanded it seized control over many different regions, peoples, and religious communities. Among these were many Islamic societies, especially in the Near East. In this remarkable piece of scholarship Peter Jackson examines the nature of Mongol rule in the Near East providing analysis on topics such as: how the onset of Mongol rule influenced the region’s trade, how the Mongols treated the Muslim peoples under their control, and also why the Mongols in the Near East themselves ultimately converted to Islam. 

By Peter Jackson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mongols and the Islamic World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An epic historical consideration of the Mongol conquest of Western Asia and the spread of Islam during the years of non-Muslim rule

The Mongol conquest of the Islamic world began in the early thirteenth century when Genghis Khan and his warriors overran Central Asia and devastated much of Iran. Distinguished historian Peter Jackson offers a fresh and fascinating consideration of the years of infidel Mongol rule in Western Asia, drawing from an impressive array of primary sources as well as modern studies to demonstrate how Islam not only survived the savagery of the conquest, but spread throughout the empire.

This…


Book cover of Women and the Making of the Mongol Empire

Nicholas Morton Why did I love this book?

The governance and administration of the Mongol Empire was an unimaginably complex exercise. Faced with endless factional rivalries as well as the need to erect and enforce the empire’s authority over a vast span of territory, the challenge of ruling the empire was truly formidable. In Women and the Making of the Mongol Empire, Anne Broadbridge examines the central role played by leading women in shaping Mongol society and its armies, thereby drawing out the sinews of power driving this vast imperium.    

By Anne F. Broadbridge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Women and the Making of the Mongol Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How did women contribute to the rise of the Mongol Empire while Mongol men were conquering Eurasia? This book positions women in their rightful place in the otherwise well-known story of Chinggis Khan (commonly known as Genghis Khan) and his conquests and empire. Examining the best known women of Mongol society, such as Chinggis Khan's mother, Hoe'elun, and senior wife, Boerte, as well as those who were less famous but equally influential, including his daughters and his conquered wives, we see the systematic and essential participation of women in empire, politics and war. Anne F. Broadbridge also proposes a new…


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Holy Food: How Cults, Communes, and Religious Movements Influenced What We Eat - An American History

By Christina Ward,

Book cover of Holy Food: How Cults, Communes, and Religious Movements Influenced What We Eat - An American History

Christina Ward Author Of Holy Food: How Cults, Communes, and Religious Movements Influenced What We Eat - An American History

New book alert!

Who am I?

For me, history is always about individuals; what they think and believe and how those ideas motivate their actions. By relegating our past to official histories or staid academic tellings we deprive ourselves of the humanity of our shared experiences. As a “popular historian” I use food to tell all the many ways we attempt to “be” American. History is for everyone, and my self-appointed mission is to bring more stories to readers! These recommendations are a few stand-out titles from the hundreds of books that inform my current work on how food and religion converge in America. You’ll have to wait for Holy Food to find out what I’ve discovered.

Christina's book list on the hidden history of America

What is my book about?

Does God have a recipe? Independent food historian Christina Ward’s highly anticipated Holy Food explores the influence of mainstream to fringe religious beliefs on modern American food culture.

Author Christina Ward unravels how religious beliefs intersect with politics, economics, and, of course, food to tell a different story of America. It's the story of true believers and charlatans, of idealists and visionaries, and of the everyday people who followed them—often at their peril.

Holy Food explains how faith pioneers used societal woes and cultural trends to create new pathways of belief and reveals the interconnectivity between sects and their leaders.

Holy Food: How Cults, Communes, and Religious Movements Influenced What We Eat - An American History

By Christina Ward,

What is this book about?

Does God have a recipe?

"Holy Food is a titanic feat of research and a fascinating exploration of American faith and culinary rites. Christina Ward is the perfect guide – generous, wise, and ecumenical." — Adam Chandler, author of Drive-Thru Dreams

"Holy Food doesn't just trace the influence that preachers, gurus, and cult leaders have had on American cuisine. It offers a unique look at the ways spirituality—whether in the form of fringe cults or major religions—has shaped our culture. Christina Ward has gone spelunking into some very odd corners of American history to unearth this fascinating collection of stories…


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