Dan Carlin's Hardcore History: Show 43 - Wrath of the Khans I
January 12, 2015 12:42 PM - Subscribe

In one of the most violent outbursts in history a little-known tribe of Eurasian nomads breaks upon the great societies of the Old World like a human tsunami. It may have ushered in the modern era, but at what cost?
posted by the man of twists and turns (4 comments total)
I really enjoyed this recently. I'm halfway through Part II just now so look forward to the next post.

Anyone have any views on the information/slant Carlin gives to the info? I'm not well read on the Mongols so appreciate if anyone wants to take issue/expand on any stuff in the podcast.
posted by Gratishades at 3:55 AM on January 13, 2015

I have been wanting to get into this podcast, but I've always been a little intimidated by the length of the episodes. Between watching the first few episodes of Marco Polo on Netflix recently and the posting of this Fanfare, I guess I have enough reason to care about the Mongols to finally jump in.

One thing that people have always said about this podcast (even as they praise it) is that Carlin can be rambly. And, at only 20 minutes in, I can absolutely see where that comes from. I think he's maybe mentioned actual Mongols maybe once or twice so far.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:36 AM on January 13, 2015

Anyone have any views on the information/slant Carlin gives to the info?

Yes - I felt like Carlin bought into the mythologies of the Mongols as uniquely brutal/bad etc that are widely promulgated. My own personal feeling is that yes, while the Mongols were indeed bad ass motherfuckers, let's not lose context here: This was a time when warring European forces would catapult prisoners against the walls of a besieged town, torturing children etc was a regular occurence.

Carlin - and many others - calls out the widespread "marriages" (ie rapes and sexual bondage) of subjugated women, but again, I think the Mongols were primarily unique in that they actually took the prisoners as wives, whereas as other forces at the time would not.

I think partly the rap that the Mongols get was their pretty set practice of immediately rounding up and killing all the elite in a conquered territory - this is something that was really different, as most invaders of the time would knock off royalty, maybe, but largely co-opt the local power structures etc. I think because of this, almost revolutionary aspect of their fighting, they created a special brand of fear in the Europeans and Chinese rulers. And they wrote the history books.

I can't help feeling that for the majority of the population - ie the peasants - life under Mongols vs other random dictator would have been mostly unchanged.
posted by smoke at 3:24 PM on January 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here's a nice blog post showing some of the difficulty in accepting things at face value.

I've read Weatherford's book - and whilst not without it's problems (he's an anthropologist, not an historian, and it shows at points) - I found it a useful corrective to the uncritically swallowed claims about the Mongols we often see.
posted by smoke at 3:37 PM on January 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

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