THE TURKIC SAGA OF GENGIZ KHAN & THE KZ FACTOR by Kairat Zakiryanov
An in-depth study of Genghis Khan from a Kazakh perspective, The Turkic Saga of Genghis Khan presupposes that the great Mongol leader and his tribal setting had more in common with the ancestors of the Kazakhs than with the people who today identify as Mongols. This idea is growing in currency in both western and eastern scholarship and is challenging both old Western assumptions and the long-obsolete Soviet perspective. This is an academic work that draws on many Central Asian and Russian sources and often has a Eurasianist bias – while also paying attention to new accounts by Western authors such as Jack Weatherford and John Man. It bears the mark of an independent, unorthodox and passionate scholar.
The book begins with a summary of the impact of the Eurasian nomads on world history and a sketch of how the dynamics of the steppe cultures interacted and came to rule, in many cases, the sedentary cultures that they conquered, creating characteristic two-tiered societies (Zakiryanov’s ‘KZ factor’). It then quickly goes on to examine the genealogy of Genghis Khan, the ethnicity of the various tribes close to him and the language they would have spoken. Drawing also on historical currents in China and Russia, and illustrated by the author’s own present-day travels in Mongolia and throughout the Turkic world, Zakiryanov examines the origins and relationships of both the Kazakhs and the Mongols with each other and their neighbours.
Kairat Zakiryanov is a professor of mathematics and currently rector of the Kazakh Academy of Sport and Tourism in Almaty. He is active in various cultural and civic spheres – all this in addition to a life-long devotion to history, to understanding his own roots and ancestry. This he regards both as part of the project of reviving Kazakh historical studies and identity in the post-Soviet era and as a means for anybody to better understand his or her specifics of origin and through that, our common humanity.
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