SROM - v 1.1


Christopher Kaplonski

in collaboration with

Kathy Petrie


Guy Seay

This list is by no means intended to be an exhaustive bibliography. Rather, I have compiled it with the aim of providing a fairly short, but comprehensive reading list. Bibliographies in the works cited here should provide most other references. Unfortunately, a lot of the more interesting stuff now being done is coming out as articles and/or chapters in books. Such references are not cited here.

The bibliography is divided into sections, and the books are arranged aphabetically by author within the sections. Comments have been added to some of the books. Unless otherwise noted, the comments are mine (Chris K's). [KP] denotes comments provided by Kathie Petrie (who also provided some of the references). [GS] denotes comments provided by Guy Seay, who also provided references. Thanks to both for their assistance.

Unless otherwise noted, most of these should be available at larger libraries, (especially University ones) and can probably be ordered, or sometimes found, at larger bookstores.

* For this revision, Guy Seay has provided some more information, including a video. My two new comments (Nicolle and Severin) are basically stop- gap -- I've thumbed through both books, but haven't had time to read them fully. As the list expands (if it does) it may be broken up into two: one more scholarly, and one with more popular readings.

For a fuller bibliography


Comments, as well as recommendations for inclusion into the list should be addressed to:


  • Allsen, Thomas: Mongol Imperialism: the Policies of the Grand Qan Möngke in China, Russia and the Islamic Lands, 1251-1259. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987. Based on his doctoral dissertation, Allsen evaluates the reign of Khubilai's elder brother & immediate predecessor, Möngke. The focus is on how Möngke mobilized the resources of the enormous empire in a coherent, sustainable way, while keeping the many local khanates (like the Golden Horde) under his personal control. [KP]
  • Barfield, Thomas: The perilous frontier. Oxford: Blackwell, 1987. This book doesn't deal with exclusively with the Mongols, but is worth a mention. Rather than dealing with just individual groups (the Khitans, Mongols, etc.), he places them in the larger context of cycles of power, and repeated nomadic-sedentary interactions.
  • Bawden, Charles: The modern history of Mongolia. Kegan Paul, London, 1989. A standard reference work for Mongolian history from 1691 to the 1960s. It is usually the first place I look when trying to track down information about this time period. A must have if you're serious about learning about Mongolian history of the period.
  • Grousset, Rene: The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia. New Brunswick: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1991. A vast book that covers the Central Asian steppe from pre-historic times to the 17th century. Although somewhat dated in aspects, still worth a look, especially since it is the first book that springs to mind that deals with the earlier periods.
  • Marshall, Robert: Storm from the East: From Genghis Khan to Khubilai Khan. Berkely, University of California Press, 1993. Highly readable history of the Mongols rise and fall during the 12th and 13th century. Many photographs taken from the accompanying TV series as well as pictures of artwork chronicling the Mongol khans and battles. [KP]
  • Morgan, David O.: The Mongols. Oxford: Blackwell, 1986 A good general introduction to Mongolian history. He deals mostly with the Chinggisid conquests, and the Empire. Probably my first recommendation for a non-specialist who wants to know about Chinggis, Ogedei, Khubilai, etc. This one is relatively easy to find. Also has a good bibliography.
  • Nicolle, David: The Mongol Warlords. Firebird Books, 1991. I've only skimmed this one. Nice illustrations. It covers four Mongol "warlords" -- Chinggis, Khubilai, Hulegu, and Tamerlane. It was nice to see something on Hulegu. Tamerlane was an interesting addition, although for the record, he wasn't a direct descendant of Chinggis, as the book suggests. Not bad as a general audience type of book. ISBN: 1-85314-104-6
  • Onon, Urgunge:
  • Ratchnevsky, Paul: Genghis Khan. Oxford: Blackwell, 1991 Translated from the German. An excellent introduction to Chinggis Khan. Has some useful appendices. Also a good bibliography, if you read German.
  • Rossabi, Morris: Khubilai Khan: his life and times. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1988. The only English book-length treatment of Khubilai and his times. Well done, and accessible. Is also useful for information on 'Phags-pa Lama, and Buddhism in the Yu:an dynasty. Also has a good bibliography.

    Rossabi is a history professor at Columbia. This biography is a bit more scholarly in tone than Storm from the East but enjoyable reading. He covers the rise of the Mongol empire in the early chapters. Khubilai is presented as a man caught between two cultures, trying to juggle two opposed power bases. [KP]

  • Rupen, Robert: Mongols of the twentieth century. Bloomington: Indiana University, 1964. Out of print. Has a lot of detail, and good for the data. However, his analysis of some of the material leaves something to be desired, even given the time in which it was written. Volume Two of this work is a bibliography. However, it is quite dated by now, and many of the references are in Russian.
  • Saunders, J.J.: The history of the Mongol conquests. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1971. I'm afraid I don't remember much about this one. It does have a section discussing whether or not the Mongols used firearms.Judith Norby gives it fairly good reviews. Recently translated into Mongolian.
  • Turnball, S.R. and Angus McBridge (illustrations): The Mongols. London: Osprey Publishing, 1980. From the Osprey 'Men-at-Arms' series. Believe it or not, it's actually not bad. It's fairly short and written in easy language. Obviously, only talks about military matters, but does so fairly well. The author makes reference to Juvaini, Rubruck, and even quotes the Secret History. Lavishly illustrated -- has reproductions from medieval manuscripts, as well as original illustrations.
  • Religion

  • Eliade, Mircea: Shamanism. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1964. A general book on shamanism. There is much information on Mongolian, and Inner Asian shamanism more generally. Eliade sees North/Central Asian shamanism as the _ur_ form. His approach is somewhat dated, but it's a classic work. Shamanism was the main religious system of the Mongols during Genghis Khan's era, and is experiencing a resurgence in many areas after the official atheism of communism has been thrown off. Eliade is one of the recognized experts in the field. Chapter Six deals particularly with shamanism in Central & North Asia. [KP]
  • Heissig, Walther: The religions of Mongolia. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1980. I don't think this is still in print. A dense book, but a useful reference. About half the book deals with "the Mongolian folk religion and its pantheon". It also has a section on the Lamaist repression of shamanism.
  • Primary Sources

    This is a list of some of the accounts written during (pimarily) the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. There are of course, many more from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. For a good review and critique of some of them, see Barthold's Turkestan down to the Mongol invasion.
  • Dawson, Christopher: 1980 Mission to Asia. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Exists in various editions, sometimes called "The Mongol Missions". Includes the accounts of William of Rubruck and John of Plano Carpini. Carpini travelled in 1245 at the behest of Pope Innocent IV, and Rubruck went in 1253. Rubruck especially was an accute observer. Probably a little hard to find. I've found "The Contemporaries of Marco Polo", a similar collection, in a bookstore.
  • Huc, Evariste-Regis and Joseph Gabet: Travels in Tartary, Thibet and China, 1844-1846. New York:, New York, 1987. These French Catholic missionaries traveled from China through South/Inner Mongolia to Tibet and back to the China coast, dressed as Buddhist lamas and accompanied by a Mongol convert, Samdadchiemba. The introduction suggests that the authors never let facts get in the way of a good story, but there are plenty of good stories along the way. [KP]
  • Juvaini (Boyle, John A., trans.): History of the world conqueror. Manchester: Univ. of Manchester Press, 1958. Juavaini, one-time governor of Baghdad is an important contemporary source. Juvaini is something of an apologist for Mongol rule in Central Asia. Nonetheless, important for being contemporary. Juvaini also travelled extensively in Central Asia during the reign of Mönkh Khaan. Barthold rates him as much superior to Rashid ad-Din. A standard reference. Out of print.
  • Marco Polo: The travels. New York: Penguin Books, 1958. Various editions of this classic work exist. Penguin's is probably the most common. I have also seen, however, a reprint of the Yule/Cordier edition put out by Dover. That particular edition is considered by some to be the definitive edition, because of the annotations provided. Others prefer the translation by Moule and Pelliot. (Not to be missed: Polo's accounts of unicorns.)
  • Rashid ad-Din (Boyle, John A. trans): The successors of Genghis Khan. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1971. Another Persian source, and generally viewed as more important than Juvaini. Much of his information is apparently based (second-hand) on a now-lost Mongolian chronicle, the Altan Däwtär. Unfortunately, the section of Rashid ad-Din's work that deals with Chinggis has never been translated into English. His complete writings do exist in Russian, however. Out of print.
  • The Secret History - See Onon in the history section.
  • Altan Towq (Charles Bawden, trans.) Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1955. A 17th century work, translated by Charles Bawden. One of two Mongolian works with the same title. The other has never been translated into English (although last I heard, de Rachewiltz was working on a trans.) For the section on Chinggis, it basically recounts the Secret History. It takes the history of the Mongols up to Lighdan Khan (d. 1636). It very clearly displays the influence of Buddhism, especially in the portrayal of Chinggis.
  • Ethnographies/Culture

  • Humphrey, Caroline: Karl Marx Collective: economy, society and religion in a Siberian collective farm. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1983 Out of print, unfortunately. It deals with the Buriat Mongols, rather than Mongolia or Inner Mongolia. As far as I am aware, it is the only ethnography of a collective farm in ethnic Mongolian territories. It looks at (among other things) the interaction of ethnicity and Soviet political economy, as well as ways in which people deal with the Soviet system - use of kinship for meeting work requirements, etc.
  • Jagchid, Sechen and Paul Hyer: Mongolia's culture and society. Boulder: Westview Press, 1979. As far as I can think of, the only attempt at a comprehensive ethnography. The title is self-explanatory. Written based on Inner Mongolia -- so not necessarily accurate for contemporary Mongolia. Also, tends to focus on 'traditional' culture and society. But given all that, it has information you won't find in too many other places -- taboos, etc.
  • Jankowiak, William: Sex, death and hierarchy in a Chinese city. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993. An ethnography of Hohhot, the capital of the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region. Has some information on Mongolians -- his account of Mongolian concepts of identity and ethnicity is interesting.
  • Other

    This, as the section title suggests, is where I've put things I'm not sure where else they would go.
  • Akiner, Shiren (ed.): Mongolia Today. London: Kegan Paul, 1991. Unfortunately, the title is outdated by the swift change of events in Mongolia. Still, this collection of papers contains some useful information. In addition to articles on religion, the collection also addresses issues like legal reform, restructuring, education & trade.Probably not easy to find, however.
  • Brill, Marlene: Enchantment of the World: Mongolia. Chicago: Children's Press of Chicago. Recommended in the Mongolia Society newsletter -- a school book on Mongolia. $20.55, ISBN: 0-516-02605-4 ($2.05 for shipping, $25.00 minimum for credit card orders-they must do mostly business with libraries) order phone no. 800-621-1115. [GS]
  • Demi: Chingis Khan, New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1991 I came across a really nice story book at a bookstore recently about Chinggis Khan and is beautifully illustrated. Though a children's book, the illustrations really make the book. I don't know where you would order it, but your local book store would know. $19.95, ISBN: 0-8050-1708-9 [GS]
  • Hansen, Henny Harald: Mongol Costumes. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1994. An exhaustive inventory of Mongol clothing brought back from expeditions made by Henning Haslund-Christensen of Denmark in the late 1930s. The author, trained in clothing design and tailoring, describes garment construction and evolution. *Lots* of pictures and pattern layouts. [KP]. $50.00, ISBN: 0-500-01585-6
  • Sanders, Alan: Mongolia: politics, economics and society. London: Frances Pinter, 1987. Although now dated by the democratic changes, a handy reference guide to Mongolia in the 1960s and 1970s. Also has some information on the earlier parts of the twentieth century. It's a difficult read, better for consulting. On the political structure and who was who, Sanders is probably the best.
  • Severin, Tim: In search of Genghis Khan. New York: Atheneum, 1992. Still haven't read all of this one, either. Basically, Severin's expedition by horse across Mongolia in the early 1990s. Fairly well done, and a good "atmosphere" piece. (More comments when I fully read it.) ISBN: 0-689-12134-2
  • Worden, Robert L. and Andrea Matles Savada, ed.: Mongolia: A Country Study. Washington, D.C.: US Department of the Army, Washington, D.C., 1991. This is a general overview of the modern Republic of Mongolia. Written at the moment when the Peoples' Republic of Mongolia was emerging from communism, it includes a brief history of the Mongols, as well as demographic, economic and cultural information about the country today. A little out of date, but a good way to get a quick "snapshot" of recent history. [KP].
  • Language

  • Gronbech, Kaare and John Krueger: An introduction to classical (literary) Mongolia. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1976. An introduction to script Mongolian. The texts in the first part of the book are romanized. Later, bichig is also used. It's well done, and can allegedly be used to teach yourself.
  • Hangin, John: Basic course in Mongolian. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1987 I think this is the only introductory course to contemporary Mongolian that is still available. It can be had with tapes to accompany it. Unfortunately, it contains a lot of 'Inner Mongolianisms'. My first (Khalkha) Mongolian language teacher gave up trying to use this because he spent so much time correcting what he thought were inaccuracies. It can be had from the Mongolia Society.
  • Poppe, Nicholas: A grammar of written Mongolian. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1974. The standard reference book for script Mongolian. It tends to be a bit confusing if you don't have a linguistic background as the terminology is somewhat dense. Nonetheless, a useful book.
  • Video

    Another something I came across on PBS is: The title is "Great Railway Journeys: Hong Kong to Ulaanbaatar" The following is the summary from the back of the tape:

    "With influenza and a Chinese phrase book, Clive Anderson makes a somewhat apologetic start of his journey, but he is quickly into his stride, cracking English jokes to bemused fellow travelers. Crossing China, Clive is surprised to find it just as commercially minded as Hong Kong. At Mao's birthplace he talks to a former Red Guard and creates a stir in Shanghai's People's Park, where Chinese locals serenade him with hits from The Sound of Music. Later, Clive joins the Trans-Siberian Express, where he encounters the Queen's Messengers carrying their diplomatic bags to Ulaanbaatar. Here in Mongolia, as a matter of economic policy, nomadic tribesmen are being encouraged to play the stock market!"

    Clive Anderson is very positive on the Mongols which was nice to see-some beautiful (or maybe just nostalgic) shots of Ulaanbaatar. [GS]

    Order info:

    WNET/Educational Broadcasting
    19 Gregory Drive
    South Burlington, VT  05403
    Item No. WX204, Hong Kong to Ulaanbaatar
    $19.95, $4.50 shipping (57 minutes long)