Genghis Khan & False Economy
As part of TiECON Chennai 2016 this year they had a book review event where R.Gopu gave a brilliant walkthrough about two books.
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
by Jack Weatherford
This book “Genghis Khan” provides a complete picture of the Mongol tribal leader who we had learned in school as a barbaric invader. After the fall of Soviet Union under whose control Mongolia was for decades, much of their ancient history started surfacing to light. The author Jack Weatherford spent nearly 5 years staying in Mongolia and painstakingly collecting information from written records hidden and safeguarded for centuries by local monks.
Starting from his mother being abandoned by his father when an enemy tribe attacked the couple, Gopu eloquently described the entire life of Temüjin (his original name of Genghis Khan 1162-1227). In his growing years, Temüjin had to work hard as a captive labourer for an opposing tribe which had won over his. Temüjin valued his friendship especially the one he had with childhood friend Jamukha. From his original tribe, Temüjin wins over the richer Tatars tribe and takes over their name and wealth. The Eternal Blue sky was the spiritual religion of Temüjin tribe. How he had to fight tough battles to win his wife Börte.
How by winning over and uniting other nomadic tribes of Mongolia, he became the great emperor (Genghis Khan). Gopu on why described Jack says that Modern World owes Genghis Khan lot more than he has been given credit. Genghis Khan had built a security cover to almost the entire Silk Road making it safe for traders to travel far and flourish in their trades. Though he was illiterate Genghis Khan had appointed scholars to write down administrative and financial laws. Genghis Khan won the battle against the much powerful city of Bukhara by using clever tactics.
False Economy: A Surprising Economic History of the World by Alan Beattie
The second book reviewed by Gopu was False Economy. Written in 2009 Alan the book was about the decisions taken by countries that shaped the world profoundly.
We learn about that it took 6 hours of hard labour to get 15 minutes of indoor lighting in the night through candles; in the early 1900s it came to 15 minutes of labour to get 1 hour of indoor lighting through electrical bulbs. How the English-French swap after their 7-year war swapped Madras (India) and Quebec (Canada) which changed history in later centuries. We have explained the concept of embedded water, water that is used to produce materials, raise animals and so on.
The book raises and explains questions like why did Argentina fail and the United States succeed, though at the 1800s they were more or less at same economic prosperity levels. The author had talked in the book about Effective vs Corrosive Corruption. We see why Egypt turned from being the wheat basket of Africa to a net importer of food – a Tamil review by Gopu on this is here. We are explained why due to US Congress’ policies Peru has a stranglehold on the global export of asparagus.
Gopu wondered why with India being a textile exporter to the world the Indian mechanical engineers never managed to invent the simple spinning shuttle and had to wait for Englisher’s to do it in the 1700s. It’s not that complex to design.
Now I need to buy and read both the books, which will happen once I am done reading my current reading list.