Both the near east and the rise and fall of the mighty Mongol Empire have fascinated people for centuries but the medieval Levant and the formidable steppe empire at first, seem worlds apart but this is not the case. The rapid expansion of the Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan and his successors spared almost no one, forever changing the cultural, religious and economic landscape of the world.
In his latest book, The Mongol Storm: Making and Breaking Empires in the Medieval Near East (Basic Books, 2022), Dr Nicholas Morton doesn’t provide a retelling of the ‘same old story’, we receive instead much-needed added context to an already exciting and enthralling tale. Centred around the Mongol Empire and its unstoppable push to the west, Morton describes the effects of such a dominating force. Rather than simply explaining how the Mongol Empire was able to push into the near east, Morton explains that push from the different perspectives including the Seljuk Turks, the Mamluks of Egypt, the Frankish Crusaders States, the Byzantine Empire, Cilician Armenia and even the distant shores of England, all interacting, fighting and fearing the Mongol horde in different ways. The different ways that cultures interpreted the Mongol Empire to provide us with a completely new way to view Mongol expansion, from the legend of Prester John to the travels of Marco Polo, this book goes into great detail about the second-largest empire in human history without overwhelming the reader. Themes such as religion, warfare and trade bring this fantastic book back to the familiar whilst remaining fresh and entertaining. What makes this book so engaging is the author's ability to tell a narrative story whilst also providing deep global-level context which makes what should have been a difficult and stuffy book, a digestible and enjoyable read.
Mongol Storm is an easy-to-read but hard-to-put-down book filled with well-researched stories from our medieval past showing just how much of an impact the Mongol Empire had on not just China and Mongolia but modern-day Poland, Hungary, Syria, Palestine and much of the known world. This is an absolute must for anyone with even a passing interest in the Crusades, the Mongol Empire or the medieval near east.