Tamerlane

Tamerlane

Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World

Book - 2006 | 1st Da Capo Press ed.
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Tamerlane, aka Temur-the Mongol successor to Genghis Khan-ranks with Alexander the Great as one of the world's great conquerors, yet the details of his life are scarcely known in the West. Born in obscurity and poverty, he rose to become a fierce tribal leader, and with that his dominion and power grew with astonishing speed. He blazed through Asia, razing cities to the ground. He tortured conquered inhabitants without mercy, sometimes ordering them buried alive, at other times decapitating them. Over the ruins of conquered Baghdad, Tamerlane had his soldiers erect a pyramid of 90,000 enemy heads. As he and his armies swept through Central Asia, sacking, and then rebuilding cities, Tamerlane gradually imposed an iron rule and a refined culture over a vast territory-from the steppes of Asia to the Syrian coastline. Justin Marozzi traveled in the footsteps of this fearsome emperor of Samarkand (modern-day Uzbekistan) to write this book, which is part history, part travelogue. He carefully follows the path of this infamous and enigmatic conqueror, recounting the history and the story of this cruel, cultivated, and indomitable warrior.
Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : Da Capo Press, 2006.
Edition: 1st Da Capo Press ed.
ISBN: 9780306814655
030681465X
Branch Call Number: 950.2092 T586m
Characteristics: xxiv, 449 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., geneal. tables, maps ; 24 cm.

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ReidCooper
Aug 28, 2013

Marozzi in no way plays down the shocking brutality of Tamerlane's tactics; what he does is explain Temur's underlying reasoning behind such coldly calculated, horrifying mass killings. Marozzi writes well, and he draws on a lot of reputable sources to paint his picture of Temur, both current and ancient, including Arab historians. Marozzi is good at looking at the historic sources of Tamerlane's reputation, which has its own history quite apart from Timur's actual biography. This is part travel book, though, not an academic history — for both the good and bad that brings. The modern snapshots are often helpful in trying to place the general reader into the context of Timur's world, to contrast what Central Asia is today (or, was in the late-90s/early 2000s) with what it was in 1400. But the modern travel asides, as informative as they can sometimes be, sometimes disrupt the flow. In fact, the overall flow of the book is disjointed at times by how Marozzi has organized it. All that said, the book is well worth reading — it's only just over 400 pages minus bibliography, including some very useful maps and photos.

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shelleysf
Aug 18, 2012

This book appears to be one British author's (Justin Morozzi) attempt to do for Timur the Lame's reputation what Jack Weatherford did for Genghis Khan. The problem, however, is that Timur was a murderous, fickle tyrant, whose paths of conquest resulted in no empire or global political or social change. Even worse, Marozzi splices his own travelogue into the chapters on the history of Timur. This lengthens an already long book to obnoxious length (I was skimming his travel sections of each chapter by the end). Not worth reading, except by those with particular interest in Tamerlane.

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