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The Wrath of the Khans

September 30, 2012

“The Wrath of the Khans” is a series of episodes about the Mongol Empire and its conquests on Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast. Three have been completed so far, covering the the life Genghis Khan. Much mayhem remains. This is a history that I  knew very little about before. It turns out to be fascinating, mostly for the sheer “Holy Shit!” effect. The Mongols were just extremely good at utterly devastating murderous destruction across vast expanses of space and for many years. It is both very impressive and very horrifying (Carlin makes a point of emphasizing the horror, questioning revisionist histories that put a positive spin on the conquests of Genghis & Sons.) In lesser hands the story of Mongols might get monotonous, since they just kept on destroying every army they met and then, often as not, slaughtering all the civilians. But Carlin is a very gifted storyteller who keeps the drama alive. He is style is essentially that of a talk radio host (which is what he used to be) doing his monologue, only about history. It works. Anyone who might be interested in this sort of thing should check it out.

Even today, when Mongols kill a sheep for a feast they will have it held down while they cut a slit below the rib cage, then stick a hand up into the body cavity and puncture the aorta with their finger. They do this to keep the blood within the body, but also, no doubt, just because they are terrifyingly badass.

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