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THE BOOKS YOU SHOULD READ BEFORE VISIT TO MONGOLIA

Blog | published: 2021-01-28

Year by year the ultimate list of books about Mongolia is getting longer and recommended by Blue Mongolia team for their clients- travelers. The travelers, who read some books about Mongolia and Mongols before they landed at Chinggis Khan airport, have very interesting and prepared questions for their guide. It is obviously and easily felt by a tour guide and this condition encourages our tour guides very well and keeps them to learn more and look at ourselves on the other angles. We agree that one of the best ways to prepare for a trip is to dive into a stack of books and magazines about that country, where you are going to travel. Those books will open eyes of travelers and prepare them for another oriental, nomadic, independent and unique culture of Mongolia. Travelers will have a brief idea about history, culture, wildlife, dinosaurs, cuisines and people and so on.. Below we will mention the books, which might fascinate you or might take you indulge into somewhere of Mongolia without leaving your comfortable seating in your home.

• Books about history and biography of Mongolian famous people

The Secret History of the Mongols

The Secret History of the Mongols was written by unknown writer in 13 century and translated by Onon, Urgunge 2001. It is the chronicle contemporaneous with Chinggis Khaan. There are other translations out there, but we like Onon's as offering the best combination of readability and accuracy of all the ones I've read so far. The work begins with a semi-mythical genealogy of Genggis Khan. According to legend a blue-grey wolf and a fallow doe begat the first Mongol, named Batachiqan. It covers Chinggis Khan’s early life following his birth around 1160; the difficult times after the murder of his father; and the many conflicts against him, wars, and plots before he gains the title of Chinggis Khan (Universal Ruler) in 1206. The latter parts of the work deal with the campaigns of conquest of Genghis and his third son Ogoodei throughout Eurasia; the text ends with Ögedei's reflections on what he did well and what he did wrong. It relates how the Mongol Empire was created.

The Travels of Marco Polo the Venetian

The classic tells about Marco Polo's journey to Mongolian Empire in present Mongolian and chine territory from Venice, and his discoveries as an emissary to the great Kublai Khan. Polo explores everywhere from Baghdad, Armenia and Russia to the Caspian Sea, the Gobi Desert and the small fishing villages of China, describing the geography, architecture and customs of these exotic places. He tells stories of assassins, cannibals, fantastical animals, feasts and battles, and gives a fascinating account of the multicultural empire of Kublai Khan, who was the grandson of Chinggis Khan. Marco Polo lived in Mongolian empire for 20 years and sent back to Rome as messenger of Mongolian King Kublai Khan. He told about his travel to eastern countries and but unfortunately, nobody believed him and but everybody laughed at him. Finally he was sent to jail and there he dictated his stories to a cellmate and he wrote it on his clothes. Lately, his travel information was published as a book by 1580 and translated into French and English.

The Journey of William Rubruck to the Eastern parts of the world

William of Rubruck (1220 – 1293) was a Flemish Franciscan missionary and explorer, who traveled from France to Mongolian Empire. A Flemish Franciscan monk, William had participated in the crusade of King Louis IX of France to Palestine and there heard about the Mongols from friar Andrew of Longjumeau, a Dominican who had been involved in papal diplomacy aimed at trying to enlist the Mongols in the Christian crusade against the Muslims. Rubruck then decided to undertake his own mission to the Mongols in the hope of promoting their conversion to Christianity. His roundtrip journey lasted the better part of three years. William had the distinction of being the first European diplomat to visit the Mongol capital of Karakorum on the Orhon River and return to write about it. His main duty to travel to Mongol Empire was to hand the official letter of Roman Pop to Munkh Khan of Mongol Empire. The letter meaning in brief was to stop the conquer of Mongol cavalries, to show the mercyness and kindness to European nations and be united with western people under the Christianity. The reply letter from Mongolian Munkh Khan King signified that Mongols will not stop their conquer, Mongols live under the order of blue sky, so they will not be united with western people under Christianity.  William monk handed the letter of Munkh Khan together with his report of the travel. In his report to King Louis IX titled "Itinerarium fratris Willielmi de Rubruquis de ordine fratrum Minorum, Galli, Anno gratia 1253 ad partes Orientales." (The Journey Of William Of Rubruck To The Eastern Parts Of The World) he provides a unique description of the Khan's palace and detail about the individuals of various ethnicities and religions whom he encountered.

Genghis Khan and the Making the Modern World by Jack Weatherford

There are several books about Mongolian Kings and 13 centuries, which were written by Jack Weatherford, an esteemed professor and historian. If you are in short of timing and are able to read only one book, we will recommend you to read this book. It is a landmark biography of Genghis Khan by the New York Times bestselling author and this book reveals how Genghis harnessed the power of each religion to rule the largest empire the world had ever known. Vastly more progressive than his European or Asian counterparts, Genghis Khan abolished torture, granted universal religious freedom, and smashed feudal systems of aristocratic privilege. From the story of his rise through the tribal culture to the explosion of civilization that the Mongol Empire unleashed, this brilliant work of revisionist history is nothing less than the epic story of how the modern world was made. This insightful book shares more about the lesser-known history of this visionary leader, who was born in steppe. Finally, the conclusion is that if Chinggis Khan were not born, if he didn’t conquered the world, modern world could not be as the same as today.

Genghis Khan and the Quest for God by Jack Weatherford

Throughout history the world's greatest conquerors have made their mark not just on the battlefield, but in the societies they have transformed. Genghis Khan conquered by arms and bravery, but he ruled by commerce and religion. He created the world's greatest trading network and drastically lowered taxes for merchants and he respected the believes of people from different nations, so gave his subjects freedom of religion. Genghis lived in the 13th century, but he struggled with many of the same problems we face today: How should one balance religious freedom with the need to reign in fanatics? Can one compel rival religions - driven by deep seated hatred--to live together in peace?  Genghis Khan is often associated with a bloodthirsty quest to rule the world, but this book clarifies his wisdom and kindness of appreciation of every nation’s mentality and belief.

The Secret History of Mongol Queens by Jack Weatherford

With The Secret History of the Mongol Queens, a groundbreaking and magnificently researched narrative, Jack Weatherford restores the queens’ missing chapter to the annals of history. This is a fascinating story of the women who ruled alongside the famous Khans of the Mongol Empire and their role in developing the Pax Mongolia (Peace of Mongolia) that led to the prospering of trade and education after the initial conquests. Chinggis Khan’s daughters, royal princesses, royal daughter-in-laws turned their father’s conquests into the world’s first truly international empire, fostering trade, education, and religion throughout their territories and creating an economic system that stretched from the Pacific to the Mediterranean. This is also a story of the struggles for powerful rule between the royal daughters that eventually led them to be written out of the official history, yet the only live on legends and stories.

Genggis Khan: Life, Death and Resurrection by John Man

It's a book, basically recounting the history of Chinggis Khaan along with John Man's travels following the trail of Chinggis Khan in Mongolia, China and Central Asian countries. This is more than just a gripping account of Genghis' rise and conquests. He spotlights the tension between Mongols and Chinese, who both claim Genghis' spirit. This stunning narrative paints a vivid picture of the man himself, the places where he lived and fought, and the passions that surround him still. Genghis Khan is one of history's immortals, alive in memory as a scourge, hero, military genius and demi-god. To Muslims, Russians and westerners, he is a murderer of millions, a brutal oppressor. Yet in his homeland of Mongolia he is the revered father of the nation, and the Chinese honor him as the founder of a dynasty. In a supreme paradox, the world's “most ruthless” conqueror has become an only one peace and reconciliation builder in the history of mankind.

The Mongols by David Morgan

An excellent introduction to the Mongol Empire – providing an overview of the government, religion and politics of the Mongolian Empire. David Morgan explains how the vast Mongolian Empire was organized and governed, examing the religious and policital character of the steppe nomadic society. The book is Well-illustrated by maps and photographs throughout.

• Books related to Travel and Expeditions

On the Trail of Ancient Man by Roy Chapman Andrews

On the Trail of Ancient Man" is primarily a narrative by Roy Chapman Andrews on his fieldwork as leader of the Central Asiatic Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History. In response to many requests for a collected account of his experiences during the expedition, Andrews recounts his adventures throughout Mongolia in the 1920s. The expedition main mission was the search of the origins of Ancient Man, as well as the Central Asian archaeological past. But the expedition faced an unexpected discovery in paleontology. Andrews's analyses took an anthropological perspective in its exploration of the Mongolian landscape and culture, as well as a paleontologist's point of view when discussing the fossils uncovered, from the world’s first dinosaur eggs to a Protoceratop's skull. This work is a fascinating scientific and cultural analysis on the expedition and ancient history of the Mongolian area, captured in anecdote, photographs, and charming words. This is a must for anyone interested in dinosaurs, ancient man, or early twentieth-century expeditions in the name of archaeology.

Dragon Hunter by Charles Gallenkamp

Roy Chapman Andrews led the most celebrated fossil-hunting expedition in the twentieth century, which is financed by Morgan, Rockefeller, and a host of other Wall Street titans. Under the auspices of New York's American Museum of Natural History, Andrews conducted five expeditions to the last unchartered corner of the world: the Gobi Desert of Outer and Inner Mongolia. In this book vividly recounts these tremendous discoveries and the unforgettable adventures that attended them. Filled with astonishing tales of Andrews and his team braving raging sandstorms and murderous bandits, enduring political intrigue and civil wars, and reveling in the fascinating world of Peking's foreign colony. Gallenkamp tells Andrews's incredible life story, from his beginnings as a floor sweeper at the American Museum of Natural History to his international fame as one of the century's most acclaimed explorers. The result is a thrilling page-turner-an epic search for dinosaurs and extinct mammals and creatures cloaked in a sweeping historical narrative.

Walking Home From Mongolia by Rob Lilwall 

In 2012, Rob Lilwall and Leon McCarron walked over 5,000 km from the Gobi Desert down into China – following the Great Wall, trekking through the mountains of central China and finishing in Hong Kong. More focused on China this is nevertheless a good read and insight into the lands that border Mongolia. It is also a classic adventures story of hardship and exploration of areas that foreigners have rarely travelled in. Although quite recent it provides a fascinating snapshot in time of a fast changing China.

Walking The Gobi by Helen Thayer 

The book shares the inspiring story of an aging couple who took on the challenge of a lifetime—to cross the Gobi desert. At the age of 63, Helen Thayer fulfilled her lifelong dream of crossing the Mongolian Gobi desert. She was accompanied by her 74-year-old husband Bill and two camels, Tom and Jerry, and their team walked 1600 miles in Gobi desert. This peppered beautiful stories about the kindness of strangers is really depicts the resilience of the human spirit.

On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads by Tim Cope

Inspired by a desire to understand the nomadic way of life, Australian adventurer Tim Cope embarked on a remarkable journey: 6,000 miles on horseback across the Eurasian steppe from Mongolia, through Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine, to Hungary retracing the trail of Genghis Khan. From horse-riding novice to spending months in the saddle, he learnt to fend off wolves and would-be horse-thieves, and grapple with the haunting extremes of the steppe as he crossed sub-zero plateaux, the scorching deserts of Kazakhstan and the high-mountain passes of the Carpathians. As he travelled he formed a close bond with his horses and especially his dog Tigon, and encountered essential hospitality--the linchpin of human survival on the steppe--from those he met along the way. A journey of adventure, endurance and eventual triumph are narrated here in details.

Mongolia- Travels in the Untamed Land by Jasper Becker

At the beginning of 1990 Jasper Becker ventured deep into the heart of Mongolia, witnessing the birth of one of the world’s youngest democracies as well as the deep and tragic impact of the rules of Mao and Stalin on the Mongolian people. He examined the shattering, divisive years of communist rule and explores present-day Mongolia, where poverty and the encroachments of westernization cause as much damage. He goes in search of the fragile remnants of Buddhism and shamanism; visits Tuva - the lost world of Central Asia - and searches for the tomb of Genghis Khan which has been guarded and hidden by the same family for generations.

The lost country –Mongolia revealed by Jasper Becker

Jasper Becker travels from Peking, across the centre of Asia to Leningrad, encountering a host of characters who enable him to piece together Mongolia's turbulent history. He uncovers the unique cultural heritage of a country hidden from the West until only recently. Along the way he uncovers Japanese attempts during World War II to place a descendant of Genghis Khan at the head of a new Mongolian state, recounts the horrors of Stalin's rule when 20 per cent of the population was liquidated and the monasteries were destroyed, discovers the real location of Shangri-La and visits the high mountains of the north where the last surviving shamans summon up the spirits of the dead.

• Books related to Wildlife and Nature

Into Wild Mongolia by George Schaller

Biologist George Schaller initially visited the country in 1989 and was one of the first Western scientists allowed to study and assess the conservation status of Mongolia’s many unique, native wildlife species. Schaller made a number of trips from 1989 to 2018 in collaboration with Mongolian and American scientists and biologists to study and spearhead conservation efforts for some of the region’s most fascinating species, including snow leopards, wild Bactrian camels- khavtgai, the Gobi desert bear- mazaalai and Mongolian gazelle. Featuring magnificent photographs from his travels, the book offers a critical, at times inspiring contribution for those who treasure wildlife, as well as a fresh perspective on the natural beauty of the region, which encompasses steppes, mountains, and the Gobi Desert.

Birds of Mongolia by Gombobaatar Sundev and Christopher Leahy

Mongolia is a huge, landlocked central Asian country encompassing a wide range of habitats, including forests, vast treeless plains, the Altai Mountains, and, of course, the Gobi Desert. With an avian population that reflects this diverse landscapes and ecosystems, the country is rapidly becoming a “paradise” destination for bird watchers. This beautiful volume provides in-depth details for 502 species, including all residents, migrants, and vagrants. Birds of Mongolia is an indispensable guide for birders, adventurers, and all those interested in this central Asian nation.

Saving the Ghost of the Mountain: An Expedition Among Snow Leopards in Mongolia

With a dazzling as-it-happens narrative and spectacular photographs, all readers will be fascinated as they discover why these mysterious big cats are called ghosts of the mountain. Readers will also be stunned by how much perseverance it takes to research and protect this endangered, little-understood species in Altai Mountains in Mongolia.

The Birds of Heaven by Peter Matthiesen

Worldwide, there are 15 species of cranes, but Mongolia is home to 6 of the species until 2018 and in last 2 years some population of Japan white crane is migrating to eastern part of Mongolia. Cranes are ubiquitous in the earliest legends of the world's peoples, where they often figure as harbingers of heaven and omens of longevity and good fortune. The well-known naturalist and author Peter Matthiesen lures nature lover and bird lover readers with this beautiful tribute to cranes, chronicling his travels around the world, including Mongolia.

Wild Horses of Mongolia: The Przewalski Horse in Hustai National Park 

Mongols has been brought back the wild horse Takhi- The Przewalski Horse  to its homeland by 1990 and now more than 600 wild horses are galloping across the meadow steppes of Mongolia. Half of them are now protected and acclimatized in Khustain Nuruu national park. The dramatic comeback of this magnificent horse is an inspirational success story as told by the author. The horse lover readers or equestrian travelers will learn about these beautiful wild horses, the lands where they roam, and find out about visiting the park to see them running free in this incredible hidden part of the world.

• Books related to Mongolian Culture

The Green Eyed Lama by Oyungerel Tsedevdamba and Jeffrey Falt

This novel tells the tragedy about a Mongolia nation-wide purge in 1938.  A young nomadic herds-woman named Sendmaa falls in love with Baasan, a talented and handsome Buddhist lama called Baasan. Baasan resolves to leave the priesthood and marry Sendmaa, but her scheming neighbor persuades Baasan’s brother, Bold, to ask for Sendmaa's hand in marriage first. Their love triangle is engulfed by tragedy when Mongolia’s Stalin moves to crush the Buddhist faith. It has been a bestseller in Mongolia for 10 years.

The Blue Sky by Galsan Tschinag

Galsan Tschinag a beautiful and heart-wrenching account of the struggles of daily life of Tuva people in Altai Mountain ranges. The main role is a young shepherd boy comes of age, tending his family’s flocks on the mountain steppes. Knowing little of the world beyond the surrounding peaks, his nomadic way of life is disrupted by modernity. Tuva people’s soul and mentality, specially the character of ingenuity, resilience, and respect for their tradition lead the scenes.

The Interrelationship of Humans and the Mongol Landscape in G. Mend-Ooyo's Altan Ovoo: A Study of the Nomadic Culture of Mongolia by Simon Wickham-Smith

When Mongolia is bordered by those two superpowers China and Russia, Mongolia has to play an important negotiating role at the location. Therefore, it is necessary for the western and oriental worlds to understand the nomadic culture and the people of Mongolia, and for such an understanding, a literary perspective is invaluable. The book highlights nomadic culture in Mongolia through its literary, religious, and socio-historical contexts by studying the contemporary poetry of Mend-Ooyo. Mongolian religion and spirituality, history, prose, narrative, poetry, the natural world, and autobiography are analyzed in this book.   

Hearing Birds Fly by Louisa Waugh

This travelogue describes the year of the author Louisa Waugh, who spent living in Tsengel village, a Kazakh village in western part of Mongolia. Her account of living with local people describes the stark landscapes and local stories and as well as it shares a unique perspective on traditions and customs of Kazakh people.

Hunting with Eagles: In the Realm of Mongolian Kazakhs by Palani Mohan

Award-winning photographer Palani Mohan has spent time with Kazakh man and their families, documenting a culture under threat. The special bond between a hunter and his eagle begins when the hunter takes an eagle pup from a nest high on the rock face. Mohan explains how eagle hunters are slowing dying out. Rather than endure the brutal winters, their children choose to move to the capital Ulaanbaatar for a better way of life.

Eagle Dreams: Searching for Legends in Wild Mongolia by Stephen J Bodio 

This is a perfect read for you if you’re considering visiting western Mongolia as it gives a good account of the life of the Kazakh eagle hunters as he spends time living among them and their birds, learning their traditions. This method of hunting has changed little over the centuries and he spends months with the hunters learning the rituals and delicate relationship they have with their birds.

Reindeer Herders in My Heart by Sas Carey

Sas Carey visited to Darkhad depression in northern part of Mongolia. She follows her calling to a remote community of nomadic reindeer herders called Tsaatan. They live in tents with open fire inside it during the harsh winter of -45C degrees in taiga. She tells her experiences and the encountering with the spirit world, truth, ancient ways of healing…and how she felt a strong heart connection with nature and this Tsaatan people.

Moving with the Seasons: Portrait of a Mongolian Family  by Liza F. Carter

It is portrait of a unique portrait of a Mongolian nomadic family. Still today Mongol family blends ancient ways of living that have survived many thousands years ago and less influenced with elements of the modern world. The book draws on the author's experience with a single family to reveal the unique culture of Mongolian nomads and their remarkable capacity to thrive in one of the world's harshest environments. The family's willingness to share with the rest of the world the annual cycle of nomadic life on the Mongolian steppe makes for an unusually intimate portrait. Liza Carter paints a portrait of a traditional nomad family as they struggle to survive the harsh landscape and unforgiving climate in a land once considered the greatest empire on earth.

Horse Song: The Naadam of Mongolia by Ted Lewin and Betsy Lewin   

Ted and Betsy Lewin describe the landscapes, people, and activities they encounter during a trip to Mongolia for Naadam, the annual summer festival where child jockeys ride half-wild horses for miles across the Mongolian steppe.

Sky Shamans of Mongolia: Meetings with Remarkable Healers by Kevin Turner

Kevin Turner describes about his visit to authentic shamans in the steppes and urban centers of modern-day Mongolia. Spontaneous medical diagnoses, all-night shamanic ceremonies, and miraculous healings, all welling from a rich culture in which divination, soul-retrieval, and spirit depossession are a part of Mongol shaman’s everyday life. Shaman is a helper and a rescuer for the people, who have sorrowful fate and unhealed deceases. His insights into a universal shamanism and it’s principles tells the authentic stories.

• Books for kids

Unbelievable Pictures and Facts About Mongolia for kids

This book is recommended for the family travelers, who are preparing for the Mongolia trip with their children. Kids will find some information about Mongolian family and kids and they will be easy to dive into the view of nomadic life: how Mongolian kids look like and what kinds of pet animals they have and so on..

The Reindeer Lady of Mongolia by Betty Hutchens

In this book, Betty Ann brings  the view of the northern part of the country where beautiful lake Khovsgol is located in hopes of meeting the little known reindeer people. During her visit in Darkhad depression she was introduced to the reindeer lady - the spiritual leader of the tribe. This inspired her to write this story for children so that this race, threatened with extinction, will not be lost or forgotten.

                                     Narrated by Blue Mongolia Team 

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