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This article was prepared for the November 21, 2001 edition

of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Genghis Khan’s War Machine

In the illustrated companion book to "Modern


Reclaiming Genghis Khan," exhibit curator Paula L. W. Sabloff

presents theories of why the proclaimed Genghis Khan was so


successful as a political and military leader.

It could be that his nation of meat-eating warriors, whose diet was

then (and to a large extent still is) limited to meat and dairy


simply had more physical stamina that the protein-deprived armies

they overran. According to Sabloff, Mongols today have raging


but "beautiful teeth."

Mongol domination may equally have been due to their mastery of what

was then state-of-the-art military technology and transport, which,

in the 12th and 13th centuries, meant the bow and the horse. Both

the Mongols’ saddles and armor allowed for maximum movement on


while their composite bows — made of wood, sinew, and antler horn,

according to Sabloff — had a range superior to other bows being

used at the time.

And Genghis Khan possessed real political savvy. He slaughtered people

only when he met resistance. When he did not, he tolerated other


and included wise men from conquered cultures among his counselors.

While he united the Mongolian clans, he also organized them in


units of 10, 100, 1,000, and 10,000 men. That organization made a

more effective fighting machine and broke down the old tribal


that had caused centuries of strife.

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